Visas for Seafarers
When you’re working on a ship that sails the world, on most countries you will not require a VISA due to maritime agreements made by cruise companies and the respective country. But due to some specific government laws, crew members joining a cruise ship in the following countries need to acquire special VISAs to prove that they’re joining a vessel to work, as this is specially enforced at the United States, Australia, Canada and Italy. As the process and eligibility are very complicated, we started this page in order to explain a little bit more of each of them.
NOTE: Crew members also need VISAs to enter in some other countries around the world, but the bureaucracy is usually handled by the ship HR officials, so the crew doesn’t have to apply for anything by themselves. One example of this is the Schengen VISA, needed for European countries like Portugal, Spain, Germany and more. Also, when we talk about this type of VISA, some nationalities aren’t required to have them due to international agreements.
All cruise companies are required by international law to reimburse the crew member for the VISA application fees, if successful.
AMERICAN C1/D VISA
If your ship is sailing to or from the United States, the joining crew is required to acquire the C1/d VISA in order to be allowed to work on board the vessel. As the american market is one of the biggests in the world, almost all crew members in one point of their careers will apply for this VISA. As the process is long and very complicated, we also have a tutorial on how to fill the forms and successfully acquire the VISA.
If you’re joining a vessel in Australia, you’re required to acquire the Maritime Crew Visa, subclass 988. The process is simpler than the United States VISA, but it will require some time to fill out the forms as you have to apply for one VISA but by filling out two different forms. We also have a tutorial on how to fill out and to successfully acquire the VISA.
Click here to read.
If your ship is sailing from Canada, you will require to apply for a transit VISA that will allow you to enter Canada by plane and then join the vessel. The same VISA is also required if you’re disembarking in Canada before heading back home. The process is simple and it usually takes less than five business days to apply and receive the VISA on your passport.
Click here in order to read our guide.
This is by far one of the more complicated and specific VISAs that are required for crew members in order to join a vessel at Italy. It also only applies to the company Costa Crociere and their crew members. As the ships from the company are registered in Italy, crew members that join the country by air in order to join a vessel by law (as the ship is considered part of Italy) need to acquire a working seaman VISA.