News 24 Apr, 2007

Australia: Maritime Crew Visa

Members may recall that in June 2004 the Managers drew to their attention a new requirement of the Australian Government for foreign crewmembers of non-military vessels to obtain a Special Purpose Visa. This visa is now due to be replaced by the new Maritime Crew Visa which is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2008.

A notice from the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship dated 6 April 2007 explains that the new Maritime Crew Visa will largely follow the existing Special Purpose Visa for foreign crew of non-military ships. Non-military ships are deemed to be all commercial vessels temporarily in Australian waters during the course of an international voyage or Public/Government Scientific vessels which have been approved as such by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. A crewmember is deemed to include supernumerary crewmembers, provided they arrive in, or, depart Australia on the ship concerned. Please note that the Maritime Crew Visa will therefore not cover those personal who merely fly in or out of Australia to conduct temporary work on the vessels such as technicians, auditors etc. People in that category will be required to obtain another visa suitable for their visit.

The Maritime Crew Visa will only be applicable to foreign crew for the purposes of international voyages. Operators of those vessels seeking to remain in Australia and who will become subject to customs entry/import must ensure that their foreign crew apply for and be granted another visa with work rights to remain on the vessel such as, for example, the 457 Business Long Stay Visa against which the crew will be assessed.

Applications for the Maritime Crew Visa may be made from 1 July 2007 following which there will be a six month transitional period until 31 December 2007 designed to allow operators to comply with the new Maritime Crew Visa requirements. During this transitional period it will be envisaged that the Special Purpose Visa arrangement will still apply. But, as of 1 January 2008 the Maritime Crew Visa will become mandatory for the lawful arrival in Australia of foreign crew. From that date and to comply with the new regulations foreign crew should hold the following:-

1. valid national passport;

2. valid Maritime Crew Visa granted against that passport; and

3. a document that establishes the crewmember’s employment on board the vessel, e.g. Seaman’s book.

If a foreign crewmember fails to meet the above requirements they may be required to remain on board the vessel and the Owners/Operators/Charterers may be liable for a fine of up to a US5,000 for each person who fails to comply with the Maritime Crew Visa requirements.

Applications for a Maritime Crew Visa may be made over the Internet from 1 July 2007 through the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website at www.immi.gov.au/sea. Further details concerning the Maritime Crew Visa can also be found on this website.

If Members require any further assistance they should contact the Managers.