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approval given to amendments made to the Merchant Shipping (Eyesight and Medical Examinations) Regulations, 2004 now repealed and replaced by the promulgation of the The Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations, 2021 on 23 April 2021.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Among these is that medical certificates currently reference the repealed 2004 Regulations.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

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