The UK government has issued guidelines stating that seafarers, masters, and inspectors and surveyors of ships are exempt from new rules requiring travellers from England to fill in a declaration form for overseas travel, stating their reason for travel.
Brought in on 5 March 2021, the new rules state that, while the stay-at-home restrictions are in place, residents are only allowed to travel abroad for a legally-permitted reason, with travel for work a permitted reason.
Some travellers are exempt from completing the travel declaration form because of the job they do, and this includes seafarers. The full list of exemptions can be found on the UK government website here. Different rules apply for international travel from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The current UK travel requirements relating to seafarers have been causing some confusion, with maritime union Nautilus international reporting on two cases of members receiving Fixed Penalty Notices when flying home to the UK for failing to present a negative COVID-19 test to officials on arrival, despite being exempt from this requirement under government guidelines.
The seafarers in question were said to be carrying the recommended Nautilus exemption letter and all their recommended documentation, including a valid Seafarer's Identification Document (SID), and had completed their passenger locator forms correctly. However, Border Force officials stated that they will receive Fixed Penalty Notices by post for failing to present a negative COVID-19 test. The fine for a first offence under the regulations is £500.
"We encourage all members to carry the recommended documents, but these two cases highlight the fact that officials on the ground are not always aware of the exemptions that apply to seafarers," comments Nautilus strategic organiser Rachel Lynch. "National and international authorities have clearly stated that seafarers are exempt from these requirements when travelling from a country not on the high-risk 'red list' in the previous 10 days, due to the nature of their work."
In such cases, Nautilus recommends that seafarers should attempt to appeal any Fixed Penalty Notices once received through the post. They should refer to the exemptions on the UK government website as part of the appeal.
More information about the latest travel restrictions, exemptions and requirements can be found on the UK government's website here.
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