HONG KONG: THE ’14-DAY RULE’ FOR SEAFARERS

Members may be aware of the ’14-day Rule’ in place in Hong Kong. Seafarers entering Hong Kong on a ship are permitted to remain on the ship for however long the ship is in Hong Kong. But seafarers joining a ship in Hong Kong, possibly as relief crew, have only been permitted to remain on board for 14 days, before having to leave Hong Kong. This has made the arrest of ships or repair of ships in Hong Kong extremely expensive.

The issue was taken to the Maritime and Port Board and in December last year, after extensive industry consultation, the Immigration Department issued ‘Guidance Notes – Immigration Arrangement for Non-Local Seamen to Work on Ocean-going Vessels Stranded in Hong Kong due to Unforeseeable Circumstances’. The covering letter contained the following information:

I write to inform you that with effect from 27 December 2017, an immigration arrangement for non-local seamen to work on ocean-going vessels stranded in Hong Kong due to certain specified unforeseeable circumstances will be implemented.

Under the new arrangement, for an ocean-going vessel which becomes stranded in Hong Kong due to (i) ship arrest by the court in Hong Kong; (ii) Port State Control detention by the Marine Department; or (iii) urgent ship repair, non-local seamen may apply for employment visa/entry permit for coming to Hong Kong to work on board the stranded vessel concerned under the sponsorship of the ship operator or the local agent and subsequently depart with it. Those who have already arrived in Hong Kong in order to join the vessel and were permitted to remain on “contract seaman” condition may also apply to remain in Hong Kong for the same purpose.

Members are advised to contact the Club office in Hong Kong or local agents for more detailed information.

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