Transport Canada has issued an updated Ship Safety Bulletin to reflect more stringent vaccination requirements that came into effect on November 30, as well as new entry restrictions that were announced earlier this week in reaction to the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Key elements of the bulletin from an international shipping perspective are listed below:
Generally speaking, seafarers who arrive in Canada on board a vessel, or who travel to Canada by air in order to join a vessel, continue to be exempt from Canada’s entry, quarantine and vaccination requirements. Consequently, seafarers DO NOT need to be considered fully vaccinated in order enter Canada (although the government’s preference is for all travelers be fully vaccinated).
Notwithstanding the above, the government has issued a new Order in Council which prohibits foreign nationals, including seafarers, from entering Canada if they were in one of the countries listed below within a period of 14 days before the day on which they seek to enter Canada. It is important to note that this restriction applies to seafarers arriving not only by air, but also on board a vessel – unless the vessel departed the referenced country no later than the day on which the Order was made (November 28 to 30 depending on country) and had a scheduled destination of Canada upon its departure.
List of Restricted Countries (as of December 1, 2021):
- South Africa
Members should bear in mind that the list of countries to which the above prohibitions apply may be expanded on very short notice, based on new information regarding the locations and exposure risks linked to the Omicron variant.
Despite the enhanced vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound air travel that came into effect on November 30, unvaccinated seafarers can still board an outbound flight as long as they provide a negative Covid 19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of the their schedule departure from Canada (this requirement also extends to any domestic flight that the seafarer has to take in order to connect to an international flight). Please note that the testing requirement DOES NOT apply to departing seafarers who are fully vaccinated with a government approved vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca, J&J, Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN).
Notwithstanding the above, the new ship safety bulletin notes that seafarers who have been in one of the restricted countries listed above within the last 14 days should not depart outbound from Canada for crew change purposes.
Transport Canada has advised that shore leave will NOT be extended to seafarers who have been in one of the restricted countries listed above within the last 14 days. This being said, TC has offered to assist however it can in cases involving seafarers who need to go on shore leave for medical and other essential purposes.
We will continue to closely monitor all of the above and provide members with updates as warranted. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the undersigned should you need any additional information.
Note: We recommend that seafarers who are entering or departing Canada carry a copy of the new Ship Safety Bulletin with them, as this may be a useful reference for airline personnel who have any intitial confusion about ongoing seafarer exemptions related to entry and vaccination requirements.