With relaxation of Covid-19 pandemic national regulations, validity of seafarers’ certificates is back to normal: SAMSA

Pretoria: 03 August 2022

With the recent repeal of Covid-19 regulations in South Africa, the validity and revalidation administration of South African seafarers’ certificates will revert back to normal under terms as given in the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.

This development, according to SAMSA in a Marine Notice Information 09 of 2022 (MN 09 22), comes in the wake of the repeal of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak State of Disaster Regulations by government in April 2022. According to SAMSA, the reversion to normal regulations shall apply to all classes and types of seafarers’ certificates, inclusive of education and training institutions.

However, this will exclude fishing and boating certificates, this due to what SAMSA describes as “ongoing technical delays.”

In the Maritime Information Notice published on Wednesday, for all other categories of certificates, SAMSA states: “Following the 2020 outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of disaster regulations was repealed on 4th April 2022. The requirement for extension of certificates in terms of COVID are therefore no longer applicable.”

Precisely on the validity and revalidation of certificates classified under the STCW and Port Operations, says SAMSA: “All certificates of competency and certificates of proficiency for seagoing vessels (other than fishing vessels) and port operations vessels shall be revalidated as required by the Regulations using the appropriate forms.

“Persons working on port operations by virtue of holding certificates issued under the Examination Regulations for Certificate of Competency as Marine Motorman, 1993 shall ensure that they have revalidated their certificates and such are endorsed accordingly,” says SAMSA.

Furthermore, all extentions of validity of certificates previously granted under the State of Disaster Regulations (excluding fishing and boating certificates) are now also discontinued, with the online system for extensions disabled for these.

The same changes will apply to certificates issued by SAMSA accredited training institutions. SAMSA says: “The provision… …..applies to all course completion certificates issued in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations, 2021, by institutions accredited by SAMSA. SAMSA accredited institutions may (also) not issue extension of course completion certificates.”

The changes are equally applicable to medical certificates, with SAMSA saying: “Validity of all Medical and Eyesight certificates shall be in accordance with the certificate.”

Regarding the exemption of fishing and boating certificates, SAMSA says the status quo shall remain until further notice.

Against the backdrop, fishing Certificates of Competency issued under the 1993 Regulations (Fishermen and Marine Motormen) remain valid for service until 30 June 2023. That notwithstanding, fishers able to revalidate their certificate are encouraged to do so at the earliest possible time.

In this regard, says SAMSA: “Fishers who hold the old format certificates issued under the 1993 Regulations may apply for conversions (using a form appended to the new Marine Information Notice), and that….only fully issued certificates may be converted. Where a candidate produces the old TV5/1061 form as proof of qualification – the PO (Principal Officer) shall cause an investigation into the veracity of the same and reasons why the certificate has not been issued before the same may be converted.”

On the validity of Small Vessel Interim Certificate of Competency, SAMSA says it continues to battle delays with issuance of National Small Vessel Certificate of Competency (skipper’s licences) certificates due to conditons related to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak since about 15 December 2019.

For the reason, says SAMSA: “The Small Vessel Interim Certificates of Competence (that are) valid for a period of six (6) months, issued by SAMSA and external participants in the National Small Vessel Examination Regime are extended until 31 July 2023.”

However, SAMSA warns that boating owners or operators that intend using expired interims need to keep a copy of the newly released Marine Information Notice “as proof that the certificates as mentioned before has been extended when confronted by enforcement officers, gatekeepers, or officials at launching sites.”


South African seafarers medical certificates validity extended to two years effective this month: SAMSA

Pretoria: 17 November 2021

Medical certificates for South African seafarers have officially had their validity extended from one year to two years, according to a Marine Notice (MN 22-21 [C+F+P]) published by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Wednesday.

The announcement follows approval given to amendments made to the Merchant Shipping (Eyesight and Medical Examinations) Regulations, 2004 now repealed and replaced by the promulgation of the The Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations, 2021 on 23 April 2021.

In terms of these changes, according to the SAMSA Marine Notice; “The Regulations have changed the validity of Seafarers Medical Certificates from one year to two years from date of issue.”

It adds: “SAMSA have noted that both seafarers and medical practitioners will be faced with a set of immediate challenges.”

Among these is that medical certificates currently reference the repealed 2004 Regulations. As an interim resolution, says SAMSA, “Medical Practitioners shall amend this part by striking through the reference to “the Merchant Shipping (Eyesight and Medical Examinations) Regulations, 2004, as amended” as shown in the annex and inserting the reference to the 2021 Regulations.”

The other challenge would be that: “…the Expiry Date of Certificate field will reflects a “No more than 1 year from the date of examination” statement.” To overcome the challege, SAMSA says: “The Medical Practitioner shall strike through and amend this text to reflect a validity of two years unless there are any exclusionary medical conditions.”

With respect to authentification of the changes as outlined: “A medical certificate may only be amended (only the copy issued to the Seafarer) as shown in the annex… the Medical Practitioner shall put their initials next to each change.”

SAMSA further says that in terms of approvals for Medical Practitioners that existed prior to the Regulations being published, these: “shall remain valid until the expiry date set on the accreditation certificate issued. Similarly, Medical certificates issued between the 23rd April 2021 and the publication of this Marine Notice remain valid as issued,” says the notice.

SAMSA publishes all Marine Notices on its website.

In the event of any queries, relating to the announced changes and related matters in respect of the medical certificates, SAMSA says these should be directed to the Office of the Chief Examiner at exams@samsa.org.za

Meanwhile, in a Marine Circular (MC 10-21) also due out on Wednesday, SAMSA provides what’s described as “…guidance and clarification on the term “to the satisfaction of the Administration” and similar ambiguities contained in the 2011 TDC Code – CODE OF SAFE PRACTICE FOR SHIPS CARRYING TIMBER DECK CARGOES, 2011 – IMO Resolution A.1048(27)

SAMSA states: “It is recognised that in many cases the text of international instruments does not provide sufficient clarity for the requirements to be fully understood and implemented domestically. This includes situations for example, where the international obligation provides that a ship owner or ship builder does something to the Satisfaction of the Administration.

“This MC therefore provides additional guidance and clarification to assist the reader with compliance with the obligations contained in the 2011 TDC CODE – Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 2011 – A 27/Res.104