A Seafarers’ Bill of Rights


To ensure that seafarers are able to return home

You have a right to be repatriated at no cost to yourself under the following circumstances:

  • your employment agreement expires while you are abroad
  • the ship-owner terminates your contract
  • you terminate the contract for reasons that are justified
  • you are unable to carry out your duties under the agreement for reasons such as illness, injury, shipwreck, trading in a war zone or if the ship-owner fails to fulfil his/her legal obligations to you

The maximum period you can be expected to serve on board before being entitled to repatriation at the ship-owners expense is 12 months.

Ship-owners are not allowed to ask you for a contribution nor can they make a deduction from your wages towards the cost of repatriation, unless you have seriously breached the terms of your employment agreement.

If the ship-owner fails to pay for your repatriation, the flag State must take over this responsibility. If, for any reason the flag State fails to do this, contact your consulate or diplomatic mission. They should be able to arrange your repatriation and claim the costs back from the flag State, who in turn can claim against the ship-owner. The port State should also help you to find a way home.

All ships flying flags of States that have signed the Convention must carry on board and have available for seafarers a copy of the flag State’s provisions on repatriation.

The ship-owner should pay for the following costs:

• Passage to the place of repatriation, normally by air

• Accommodation and food for the duration of the journey

• Pay and allowances for the duration of the journey if specified by CBAs or national laws

• Transportation of 30kg of your luggage

• Medical treatment where necessary to make you fit for travel

You should have the right to choose your preferred place of repatriation from the following options:

• The place where you agreed to join the ship

• The place stated in a CBA

• Your country of residence

• Any other place agreed at the time of engagement

You should agree to whichever option you prefer at the time of engagement.

If you are under 18, have served at least 4 months on your first foreign-going voyage, and find that you are not suited to a life at sea, you should be given the opportunity of repatriation, at no expense to yourself, from the next suitable port of call.

Read More: A Seafarers’ Bill of Rights

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