One week on from international summit, just 15 countries have fully opened for crew change

More than two months since the International Maritime Organization (IMO) endorsed a 12-step set of protocols to ensure safe crew changes and one week on from the UK-convened international crew change summit there are still just 15 countries that have fully opened to crew movements, according to data amassed by global port agent Inchcape Shipping Services, which has been running a crew change tracker.

The countries to have fully opened to crew change according to ISS are Albania, Benin, Canada, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liberia, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UAE (Dubai).

Additionally, there are more than 60 countries who have opened for crew changes with certain restrictions, subject to screening and approval from authorities.

ISS data sent to Splash today also reveals the nations that have completed the most amount of crew changes over the last 10 weeks. The US tops the list, followed by Spain and the UK.

Commenting on the data, Feizel Mohammed, ISS’s vice president for ship and crew solutions, told Splash: “We have seen over the last month a steady increase in the amount of countries lifting their local restrictions and allowing crew changes. There are promising signs of improvement and crew changes numbers around the Inchcape global network are rapidly growing to pre-Covid levels. However, there is still a huge need for seafarers to be seen as essential workers which in turn will streamline the crew logistics process. As of today there are still limited countries allowing crew changes, even under restricted conditions, which creates bottlenecks in the process.”

ISS’s country list for crew changes is being constantly updated and can be accessed here.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.


  1. This data is totally wrong. Gibralter (discriminates against Marshall Islands)and UAE are definitely not fully open(we still cannot get a seafarer visa in UAE.), and Hong Kong is open, but not mentioned. It also completely misses the point of the crew change restrictions. The ports that are open is not the issue, the lack of flights from most of these places make them totally impractical.

    1. The data is Inchcape’s own internal data taken from our global network on the ground and based on where we have carried out crew changes. Gibraltar has been a key location for crew changes for Inchcape over the past few weeks, with many large crew changes having taken place. Flights are limited with BA offering a service, however we have been hosting private charters, for example last week we processed over two hundred seafarers this way. Additionally easyJet intends to resume the London-Gibraltar route in August which should alleviate the issue.

      Hong Kong is on our subject to screening / approval from port authorities lists, because while they do allow crew changes, the vessel has to be calling to carry out cargo operations. If a vessel is not calling for cargo operations and requests a crew change, it is subject to quarantine restrictions / port authorities’ final approval.

      As per Dubai DMCA/MAO/110/2020 circular, crew changes in Dubai ports and anchorages are allowed.

      If you are facing challenges with crew repatriation we would love to help you.

      1. Yes. We are have a problem. I am work on VLCC. We are located on OPL Fujairah. We can’t proceed to Dubai for anchorage because we are full loading. Capitan ask agent from Fujairah afn Kor Fakhan about crew change. Fujaira still closed, Kor Fakhan can arrange visa only for off-signers. We are already 8 month on board. What we can do ? We want to go home.

          1. Hello.Is there any information when UAE authorities will permit visa for on signers.

          2. UAE is not allowing visa for on signers,only off signers can go,so what is they meant by crew change?leave the vessel without reviler?we came to Dubai rashid port for crew change,but now uae is not issuing visa for any of our revilers .

            do inch cape have any idea ,when they are going to open visa for onsigners?

        1. Mr.David good day to you.
          We are at port khalifa at the moment alongside to berth.Agent and our company still talking about some confusions and restrictions.As per them dubai still not opened.please advice what to do and how to solve the problem.

  2. UAE is on papers only, no crew change from any port in UAE, emirates immigration is not entertaining visa applications at all. Local agents cant do anything without that.

  3. The only way to help ITF etc the seamen is to Not accept extentions of contracts by the companies… All extentions are fake.. Meaning the crew members are emotionally blackmailed to extend without their will.. Also if you want to give correct news to the public you must mention not only if someone can fly back home from that port but also if replacement is allowed to come there… If some country has 14 day quarantine forget about sign off… The companies are not going to pay 2 weeks hotel..

  4. I Have been on this vessel bulk carrier on a contract of 8+-1 month and its been 13 months every time we speak need signoff captain speak next port confirm signoff we are all trainees from india right now in Bangladesh in mongla port 80 km from home india. First they speak in last of dischargeing when we came in Bangladesh u will get signoff confirm made all over paper work even sea service letter except Visa and migration letters but now when the cargo is finished they agin speaking maybe signoff next port this next port signoff we r been listing from last 5 month as we now salling after 12 month not accountable we feel like a trap over here the treat us as we are kindargarden children’s for drinking water so we have to take permission from officers then if he allow we can drink other wish suffer from thirst. Please help us out, we had done complaints to port authority but they bribed them to keep mouth shut sometimes we feel jump in water as we r so close to home, tell us what to do.

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