Covid-19 22 May, 2020

COVID-19: IMO Framework for Safe Crew Changes

Dean Crossley
Dean Crossley
Loss Prevention Manager

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has drawn up a recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The protocols for crew change and repatriation were drawn up in collaboration with ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, INTERTANKO, P&I Clubs, CLIA, INTERCARGO, InterManager, IPTA, IMCA, INTERFERRY, FONASBA, ITF, and WSC. They also take account of input from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The protocols contain recommendations to maritime administrations and other relevant national authorities: such as health, customs, immigration, border control, ports, and civil aviation.

The Circular Letter No 4204/Add. 14 describes how crew members can join a vessel, starting in their country of residence, how they can disembark, and how to safely return home.

IMO Secretary General Lim said that he supports these protocols and urges Member States and international organizations to fully implement them.

ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton said: “This is about governments recognising the critical role that seafarers play in global supply chains, recognising them as key workers, and providing immediate and consistent exceptions from Covid-19 restrictions to allow crew changeovers".

The IMO has previously urged governments and national authorities to designate all professional seafarers and marine personnel as “key workers” and grant them the necessary exemptions from local rules restricting movement.

For further information on the COVID-19 Pandemic (including FAQ's), visit our dedicated webpage.