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Australia to launch new maritime crew visa

Australia to launch new maritime crew visa

Sydney: The Australian Government has announced a change to the visa requirements for seafarers sailing to Australia. As of July 1, foreign sea crew is now required to obtain a Maritime Crew Visa (MCV) in order to visit the country. The government has said that the visa, which, is a move to strengthen Australia's border security while continuing to enable the entry of genuine foreign seafarers. It is a change for the shipping industry however it seeks to strikes a balance between the need for stronger border security and the demands of shipping operations."

The MCV is required by all foreign sea crew (except New Zealanders) and replaces the current Special Purpose Visa granted to the approximately 130,000 foreign sea crew who travel to Australia annually on cargo and cruise ships, and other non-military ships. It is free of charge, not valid on air travel and valid for multiple entries over a period of three years. MCV applications can be lodged over the internet or by completing a paper application and posting it to Brisbane, Australia. It will also be possible to check online whether a crew member holds an MCV.

Although authorised third parties such as shipping agents or crew manning agents may apply for the MCV, the government requires the application to be made from outside the country prior to the vessel's arrival in Australian waters. Applications cannot be lodged at an Australian embassy, consulate or high commission.

The government has granted a six-month transitional period until December 31, 2007 to allow the maritime industry to adapt to the new requirement and apply for MCVs.  From January 1, 2008, the MCV will be mandatory and crew not holding an MCV are likely to be restricted on board and fines imposed.  [29/06/07]