BSAFE stowaways


Despite international efforts, stowaways remain a significant problem for seafarers and shipowners, both in terms of the complex and costly repatriation measures and also because they can cause a threat to the seafarers when they are found on board

The presence of stowaways on board ships may have serious consequences for the ships and the subsequent repatriation of stowaways can be a very complex and costly procedure involving numerous different parties. Furthermore, when stowaways are discovered they may be desperate and pose a threat to the seafarers, and this situation can be made worse if the stowaways have to remain on board for a long time while the ship finds a port from where they can be repatriated. Given that the current COVID-19 outbreak is making disembarkation even more difficult, this has become ever more relevant.

In BSafe we look at all the issues relating to stowaways, from how they come on board and what can be done to prevent this and then what to do once they are found. We examine who bears the cost and responsibility for looking after them on board and set out how they must be treated. This will guide the shipowners and crew in their dealings with the stowaways. BSafe will be providing material to help support seafarers and help them to understand the complex issues involved when dealing with  stowaways.

If you have any questions or would like further advice on stowaways, then please feel free to contact us at:


This explains and why the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regard stowaways as a major threat to international shipping. This also provides valuable links to applicable international legislation on the matter. Read more…


This sets out guidelines on how to prevent stowaways gaining access to the ship.  It makes seafarers aware of  the allocation of responsibilities in order to successfully resolve stowaway cases. Read more…

The following articles have been developed by the Britannia Loss Prevention and People Risk departments providing guidance and advice on matters relating to “Stowaways”:

Published: 12 November 2020

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What to do if a stowaway is located on board? This short article provides useful advice to the master and other crewmembers on the required protocol and how the Club can assist

Published: 12 November 2020

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We highlight some recent cases where stowaways have been found on board which provide valuable lessons and stress the importance of having proper on board precautions. As part of BSafe, we will aim to publish regular reports on stowaway incidents in order to share the lessons learned

Published: 12 November 2020

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Due to its strict regulations, there may be even more severe consequences for the ship in cases involving stowaways embarking in South Africa. This article provides guidance on additional precautions to be taken when in South African waters.