Seafarers' rights to shore leave have
been strengthened through amendments which enter into force globally on 1
January 2018, under the revised treaty which aims to achieve the smooth transit
in ports of ships, cargo and passengers, says an IMO briefing.
The amendments to the Convention on
Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) also bring in a
new requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information
exchange, including electronic data interchange (EDI), to transmit information
related to maritime transport. This should be in place by 8 April 2019, with
provision for a transitional period of at least 12 months during which paper
and electronic documents would be allowed.
Use of a "single window" for
data is encouraged, to enable all the information required by public
authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships,
persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without
In addition, a number of standard forms,
standards and recommended practices relating to stowaways have been updated.
The FAL Convention has 118 contracting
The amendment to the international
standard on shore leave adds a new provision, on top of the requirement to
allow crew ashore while the ship on which they arrive is in port. This new
provision says there should be no discrimination on grounds of nationality,
race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin. Shore leave
should be granted, irrespective of the flag State of the ship.
If any request is turned down, the
relevant public authorities must provide an explanation to the crew member and
the master, which the seafarer or master can request to be provided in
The section on preventing stowaways is
updated and expanded. National authorities are recommended to apply operational
procedures equivalent to those in the IMO International Ship and Port Facility
Security (ISPS) Code, to prevent stowaways accessing a ship.
A new standard requires governments,
where appropriate, to incorporate legal grounds to allow prosecution of
stowaways, attempted stowaways and any individual or company aiding a stowaway
or an attempted stowaway with the intention to facilitate access to the port
area, any ship, cargo or freight containers into their national
Updated FAL forms are in effect from 1
January 2018, covering IMO General Declaration; Cargo Declaration; Ship's
Stores Declaration; Crew's Effects Declaration; Crew List· Passenger List and
Three additional documents have been
introduced for ships' clearance that may be required by the shore authorities –
security-related information required under SOLAS, advance electronic cargo
information for customs risk assessment, and advanced notification form for
waste delivery to port reception facilities.
The FAL Convention, first adopted in
1965, aims to harmonize procedures for ship's arrival, stay and departure from
port. It includes mandatory "Standards" and "Recommended
Practices" on formalities, documentary requirements and procedures which should
be applied on arrival, stay and departure to the ship itself, and to its crew,
passengers, baggage and cargo.
The revised annex, which was developed
following a comprehensive review of the treaty, will ensure the convention
adequately addresses the shipping industry's present and emerging needs and
serves to facilitate and expedite international maritime traffic. The objective
is to prevent unnecessary delays to ships, and to persons and property on board.