This factsheet provides information for maritime crew members entering NSW from overseas on the current legislation and requirements to minimise their risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19.

Last updated: 06 August 2021

​​Entry Requirements

All international vessels and persons entering NSW from an overseas location are considered potentially infectious.

I am travelling to NSW on a vessel. What restrictions are in place?

Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order sets conditions on persons arriving on a vessel that:

  • Comes from a port outside of NSW,
  • Commenced its voyage outside of Australia,
  • Stopped at a port outside of Australia or
  • Picked up crew members at a port outside of Australia.
  • Has been in a country other than Australia and New Zealand within 14 days before boarding.

Can I disembark the vessel on arrival to NSW?

No, Maritime crew members who have arrived in NSW on a vessel that commenced its voyage from a port outside Australia can only disembark the vessel if they are authorised by the Commissioner of Police, are undertaking an essential task, or in the event of an emergency. Crew members can also leave a vessel in order to leave Australia, including via a vessel or flight that stops in another state or territory.

In all other cases where crew wishes to disembark a vessel, an exemption is required from NSW Health.

When disembarking the vessel for an authorised reason, the crew member must wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19.

What are the quarantine requirements?

Quarantine is used to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the community.

If permission to disembark is obtained, all crew members who are off signing must complete quarantine in a designated quarantine facility. The quarantine facility will be allocated by NSW Police, who will advise the shipping agent of the location.

The employer is responsible for arranging appropriate transport to take the crew member to the quarantine facility.

The duration of hotel quarantine is for a minimum of 14 days, up to 24 days. Exemptions to hotel quarantine may be considered for crew who are leaving Australia.

For more information on quarantine, please see the NSW health Factsheet for COVID-19: Information for people requiring hotel quarantine.

Can I disembark to do essential tasks?

Crew members may disembark from the vessel at the wharf to conduct essential tasks. While completing the essential tasks, you must observe the following conditions:

  • Do not travel more than 13 metres from the wharf at which the vessel is docked.
  • Re-board the vessel immediately once the task has been completed.
  • Have a clean and hygienic environment – ensure the vessel is thoroughly cleaned and maintain regular disinfection of high-touch areas.
  • Wear appropriate PPE, including a disposable surgical facemask that is worn over the nose and mouth, and disposable gloves.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene
  • Remain at least 1.5 metres away from anyone who is not a fellow crew member.

For a full list of the approved essential tasks, please see the Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order 2021.

On-signing and Off-signing

Can I fly to NSW to join a vessel?

International maritime crew members arriving from overseas by air to on-board a vessel in NSW are subject to the conditions in the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order.

On-signing crew must quarantine in a designated quarantine facility on arrival to NSW. Once they have completed the full 14 days of quarantine, then they are able to join the vessel.

Can I disembark the vessel and fly back home overseas?

Off-signers must complete their quarantine in NSW. A NSW Health exemption may be considered to allow the crew member to go directly to the airport or another vessel in order to leave Australia.

If a crew member is issued an exemption to depart NSW without completing a quarantine period, they must:

  • Travel in appropriate transportation directly to the airport to board a flight departing Australia within 8 hours of disembarking the vessel. This transport should be organised by the employer (or shipping agent).
  • If their flight departure is greater than 8 hours, they must travel directly to a quarantine facility to wait for the flight.

Are there any pre-departure requirements that need to be completed before I return home overseas?

Entry into some countries and travel on some airlines may require you to have specific tests completed before you travel. Your shipping agent is responsible for checking and organising these requirements prior to your scheduled disembarkation date and any onward travel.

If COVID-19 testing is required, ideally the shipping agent should arrange for dockside testing with a private pathology provider. If this or any other requirements cannot be completed dockside, you may need to enter a designated quarantine facility until requirements are completed.

Medical Assistance

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) contracts Telephone Medical Advisory Service (TMAS) to triage requests for medical assistance from ships in Australian waters. They can be contacted on ​+61 262 306 811 and are available 24 hours.

What if a crew member requires urgent medical assistance?

If urgent medical evacuation from a vessel is required, please call TMAS to coordinate medical evacuation. An exemption is not required in the event of an emergency whether the vessel is in port or at sea. Once the crew member has been medically cleared, they must either re-board the vessel or enter a quarantine facility for the remainder of their quarantine period.

The shipping agent must also contact the NSW State Health Emergency Operations Centre to advise of the evacuation as soon as possible.

What if a crew member needs non-urgent medical care?

If non-urgent medical care is required, contact TMAS on 1300 732 642, and request a medical consultation.

If the crew member needs to visit a health facility for non-urgent medical care, they must apply for a NSW Health exemption. Once a medical exemption has been granted, the crew member may disembark and travel directly to the approved medical facility. Transportation directly to and from the medical facility must be organised by the shipping agent.

After the medical treatment has been completed, the crew member must return directly to the vessel. They can also complete the remainder of their quarantine period in a designated quarantine or healthcare facility. The shipping agent is responsible for any additional visa requirements or onward travel.

If a crew member has travelled to a quarantine or medical facility, and requires medical clearance to board a departing flight, the relevant documentation can be arranged by NSW Health.

Other Information

Appropriate transport after disembarking a vessel

Any time a crew member is granted an exemption to disembark the vessel, the employer or the shipping agent is responsible for arranging appropriate transport for the crew member to travel to the approved destination.

  • Appropriate transport may include a hire car that is used to provide passenger service.
  • Taxis, rideshare services, and public transport must not be used.
  • The driver must pick up the crew member from the wharf and take them directly to and from the approved destination.
  • A face mask that covers the nose and mouth must always be worn by both the crew member and driver during transit.
  • The employer is responsible for providing the crew member with a face mask and must take reasonable steps to ensure that they always wear it during transit.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The employer is responsible for providing appropriate PPE to crew members to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate risk of exposure, in partnership with other COVID-19 safety measures.

PPE including a disposable face mask and gloves must be worn by crew members upon disembarkation.  This includes when:

  • Transiting from the vessel to another location (such as a quarantine facility, medical facility, another vessel, or the airport),
  • Waiting at an airport to leave Australia, and
  • Carrying out an essential task.

Appropriate PPE must also be worn by crew members when interacting with persons from NSW.

The factsheet on Appropriate personal protective equipment for maritime workers has been developed to provide guidance on the types of PPE that may be applicable in various maritime based settings.

Exemptions to Public Health Orders

Exemptions to Public Health Order requirements are rarely granted, and are only considered where there are strong medical, health or compassionate grounds, or if the person is transiting out of NSW to an international destination.

Exemption requests can be made via the NSW Health ServiceNow Portal. Significant efforts are being made to ensure timely processing of exemption applications, however, please allow adequate time (up to 14 days) for this processing to occur when sending in a request.

Please visit Air and Maritime Quarantine Exemptions and Quarantine Exemptions Frequently Asked Questions for more information about the exemptions criteria and the latest updates.

Current as at: Friday 6 August 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW