Transport Canada has announced new procedures for entry visas to permit crew changes, according to the Maritime Executive.
As part of a two-step process, seafarers must apply online for a temporary resident visa (TRV) in order to enter Canada. Once they have applied, they are instructed to email Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) at a dedicated email address explaining they are members of a crew and asking to be exempt from Covid-19 travel restrictions.
According to Transport Canada, seafarers must indicate that their travel is essential (non-discretionary purpose). After applying for their visa on the website, crew members will receive a notification either via their IRCC Secure Account or email confirming that their application is approved, refused, or requesting more information so that IRCC can make a decision. A dedicated email address has been set up to respond to questions from seafarers.
Canada will not require mandatory quarantine for seafarers but has implemented temperature screening for all travellers into its airports, and travellers must wear non-medical facemasks.
On June 16 after weeks of calling on governments to allow safe crew changes an ddesignate seafarers as Key Workers, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said 'enough is enough'.
'The ITF and its affiliated seafarers' unions will now assist hundreds of thousands of seafarers to exercise their right to stop working, leave ships, and return home,' ITF said.
On June 12 Hong Kong announced 'unrestricted' crew changes through the region's ports and airports in response to joint action from unions. Singapore has also eased its restrictions for cargo ships in conjunction with union agreement.
Seafarers 'to stop working' amid pandemic crew change delays
Merchant navy seafarers stranded at sea for months due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions could now start refusing to extend their contracts and stop working, potentially disrupting global trade, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) said.
Deadline day: UN calls on all countries to immediately facilitate safe crew changes
The secretary general of the United Nations (UN) has called on all countries to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers, to ensure that crew changes can safely take place.
Nautilus agrees extended sea time for cadets caught out by Covid pandemic
Nautilus has reached agreement with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) to allow consecutive phasing of cadet sea time in response to training disruptions wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seafarer quarantine exemption 'certificate' released for UK arrivals
Nautilus International and the UK Chamber of Shipping jointly produced a special 'guidance letter' in 2020 for seafarers arriving at UK ports supporting their exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK. This was updated in January 2021.
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.
Union calls time on governments using 'force majeure' to mask failures in pandemic response
National governments can no longer hide behind a declaration of 'force majeure' in order to mask failures in their pandemic response which have resulted in thousands of seafarers being stuck at sea well beyond their contractual obligations.
Unions lobby US Congress to end MSC gangway-up order
Influential US unions have asked Congress to intervene on behalf of American merchant seafarers, whose liberty is being restricted by the gangway-up order imposed by Military Sealift Command (MSC).
Hong Kong relaxes crew change restrictions
Hong Kong has announced 'unrestricted' crew changes through the region's ports and airports in response to joint action from unions.
Amsterdam to welcome back first river cruise vessel on 20 June
For the first time in months, Amsterdam is expecting a river cruise ship on 20 June. The port of Amsterdam will allow river cruise ships again under strict conditions laid down in the IG Rivercruise and EBU guidelines.
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.
Unions call for immediate repatriation of US mariners
The Masters, Mates & Pilots union (MM&P) has joined forces with five other US maritime unions, to call on the US government to urgently enable crew changes for American mariners, likening their confinement due to Covid-19 restrictions to 'prison ships'.
Expiring seafarer documents to be extended to the end of 2020
The US Coast Guard (USGC) has announced a further extension of expiring mariner documents, to ease some of the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on seafarers and the maritime industry.
TUC calls for UK to take lead in urgent action to release up to 200,000 seafarers trapped onboard ships
The TUC has warned the UK government of the threat posed to Britain's economic recovery from the mounting crisis on board merchant vessels, where 200,000 seafarers remain stranded at sea by travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.