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News: COVID-19 – Singapore MPA relaxes crew change procedures for cargo ships

22 May 2020

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore recognises the critical role that seafarers play in global seaborne trade, as well as the importance of crew change to safeguard the health and safety of seafarers. 

Following the tightening of border control measures in Singapore, crew change was allowed only under one of the below special circumstances: 

a) the crew has served his/her maximum time on board (and no further extension of the employment contract is granted by the flag State) 

b) compassionate grounds (eg death of family member) 

c) the crew is no longer medically fit to work on board the ship
MPA has since worked closely with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), Singapore Organisation for Seamen (SOS) and the industry as well as other government agencies to enhance the existing procedures.


The Port Marine Circular PMC 26 of 2020 confirms that in addition to the special circumstances mentioned above, the following circumstances will also be considered in allowing crew change for cargo ships in Singapore:

a) crew whose employment contract has expired 

b) additional crew on board whose sign-off would not affect the safe manning of the ship

c) change of crew due to the sale or purchase of ship

d) personnel who are not part of the ship’s crew such as superintendents and service engineers


Ship owners/managers/agents will need to apply to MPA at least 14 days in advance for the crew change. Sign-off and sign-on crew will need to comply with certain conditions.

More details are available in the circular in the attachment box.