Urgent action needed over EU Schengen visas for crew changes

27 May 2020

The European Commission and EU Member States must take urgent action to ensure seafarers are admitted into the EU Schengen territory for the purpose of joining their ships or to be repatriated, the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) and European Communities of Shipping Associations (ECSA) said.

Shipping must benefit from the re-establishment of transport links between Europe and other parts of the world and effect crew changes in European ports, they said in a joint letter to the Commission.

The health, safety and welfare of seafarers will suffer tremendously if crew changes do not happen as planned.

While there have been some positive developments in the EU member states and third countries in facilitating the movement of seafarers, these efforts are at risk of being nullified.

Third country seafarers are often unable to obtain the visa they require in order to temporarily enter the Schengen territory to join or leave a ship since most diplomatic missions are closed or not fully functional and visas on arrival are not widely available. Crew change arrangements, therefore, risk being stalled.

In the note accompanying the letter, the two social partners outline the issues seafarers are currently facing in crew changes and what steps need to be taken to solve them.

The letters are available here, and the note here.


More articles


Unions back ships' officers as governments drag feet over crew changes

An influential grouping of maritime trade unions has publicly raised concerns about unsafe ship operations due to the tiredness and mental health of seafarers caused by extended tours of duty during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • News
  • 27 May 2020

Nautilus Federation message to maritime professionals

Nautilus Federation message of support for maritime professionals

Health and safety

Nautilus FAQs on Covid-19 Coronavirus

  • Telegraph
  • 09 June 2020

Singapore seafarers' union helps provide relief during Covid-19 pandemic

Nautilus affiliate seafaring union the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) is helping provide a seafarer relief package (SRP) for members adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • News
  • 26 May 2020
Health and safety

Volunteers wanted for Covid-19 mental health study

University College London is asking Nautilus members to volunteer for its study into the psychological and social effects of coronavirus in the UK.

  • News
  • 15 May 2020

ITF message to seafarers: 'we will not give up until you are all safely home'

Seafarers have been honoured for their hard work and professionalism throughout the global pandemic by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

  • News
  • 12 May 2020
Members at work

Master Mariners speak out about Covid-19 concerns

  • Telegraph
  • 23 April 2020
Health and safety

Nautilus helps produce topical new guidance on seafarer wellbeing

  • Telegraph
  • 15 April 2020

Become a Nautilus member today