July 29, 2021 | Circular No. 11305

Dear Member,

Transport Canada has issued a revised Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB 11/2021) on the mobility of crew members and other marine sector workers during the ongoing pandemic. The new bulletin, which replaces SSB 28/2020 issued last December, focuses mainly on shore leave and crew changes, as per below:

Shore Leave

Although Canada has permitted shore leave throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of restrictions that were imposed earlier in the pandemic have now been lifted.  More specifically, under the new SSB:   

  • The suggested maximum length of shore leave has been extended from four to six hours for asymptomatic, presumed non-COVID-19 carrying crew members
  • The previous bulletin’s reference to “controlled shore leave” has been removed, meaning that the movement of seafarers on shore leave is no longer restricted to specific locations

As always, crew members engaging in shore leave are expected to follow the advice of their employer, the Public Health Agency of Canada and local health authorities, and to:

  • Adhere to marine facility-specific COVID-19 protocols during shore leave
  • Follow PHAC recommendations regarding COVID-19 prevention (masking, hand hygiene, physical distancing, cough/sneeze etiquette)
  • Follow applicable public health restrictions from local health authorities
  • Minimize contact with local workers at a destination
  • Quarantine and contact the public health authority should they exhibit any COVID-19 signs or symptoms

Although not covered in the bulletin, we also take this opportunity to remind members that CBSA does not play any role in authorizing, restricting or otherwise managing the movement of crew members as relates to shore leave.  Although CBSA does require crew members to complete a health questionnaire upon entry into Canada, this is a PHAC requirement (enforced by CBSA) that is not related to shore leave. CBSA has agreed to issue additional guidance to its regional officers on this matter, with a view to ensuring a consistent approach to shore leave across the country.

Crew Changes

The new bulletin confirms the ongoing exemptions of incoming crew members and other marine workers from Canada’s border restrictions and quarantine requirements, all of which have remained relatively unchanged since the beginning of the pandemic (please see SSB 03/2021 issued on March 4th for the most recent guidance in this respect). The new bulletin does, however, contain links to the updated Orders-in-Council renewing the above-noted exemptions.

We have also updated the relevant sections of our COVID-19 Resource Centre to include the new Ship Safety Bulletin and the information contained therein.


Karen Kancens
Vice President