The procedures and regulations surrounding crew changes have garnered a lot of attention lately as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many countries to enact port restrictions. In Mexico, crew changes are currently allowed in Altamira, Veracruz, Tampico, Guaymas, and Salina Cruz ports. Due to the pandemic, in addition to the standard protocol, crew members are subject to additional safety precautions.
Tampico and Altamira
In Tampico, crew members must arrive before joining the vessel. Once they arrive, the crew must stay at a hotel for three days. After the three-day quarantine, they must be tested for COVID-19, receive a negative result, and obtain a medical certification in order to join the vessel.
Disembarking crew members must have an authorized 10-day record of their body temperature.
Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos
Crew members must arrive in Veracruz before joining the vessel. The crew must stay at a hotel in Veracruz for four days. After the four-day quarantine, they must be tested by a certified laboratory. If the test result is negative for COVID- 19, then the crew must obtain a medical certification to join the vessel.
Disembarking crew members must have an authorized 7-day record of their body temperature. An agent will send a letter to the ship's Master to certify the crew's temperatures. This document must be signed and stamped by the Master. When disembarking, health authorities will board the vessel to perform an inspection. All off-signers must fill out a questionnaire during this time.
Ciudad Del Carmen
Under this new protocol, during embarkment and dis-embarkment of a ship, a doctor must be present to issue a medical certificate that guarantees crew members are clear of COVID-19 symptoms. This procedure occurs at pier 4 (Ciudad del Carmen) as long as the vessel keeps schedule and fulfills its necessary requirements; otherwise, the ship will be on hold until other vessels complete the new procedure.
In addition to these pandemic regulations, crew changes must adhere to standard protocol. There are two scenarios to be considered while planning for crew changes:
Crew Members From Countries Free of Visa (Non-Restricted)
1. Crew members from countries free of Visa, can travel to Mexico without problems. LOG or OK to Board is not necessary for them but is recommended.
2. Passport copy, seaman book, and flight details of joiners and off-signers are necessary for local arrangements. GMC Mexico will need those documents at least three working days before arrival. Entering and departing crew will also require carrying a copy with them.
3. Off-signers do not require a USA Visa or Mexican Visa to disembark at Mexican Ports,
4. The scanned copies of the documents must be very clear to avoid rejection by port authorities.
5. Upon the Mexico City Airport arrival, the on-signers must show their passport, seaman book, and their Mexican Visa or US Visa. Immigration officers will provide them with a FMM form valid for 180 days.
NOTE: We have noticed that some immigration officers provide 15 days allowance. Please instruct crew members that they must specifically request 180 days. This request must be very clear on the FMM (immigration Form).
6. The Customs service does not allow any alcoholic beverages or cigarettes to enter or be taken out of the port. They will only accept domestic products (Mexican Products), and in that case, these products must come with their own local sales receipt.In order to avoid fines that must be covered immediately by the crew (these fines can range from $700.00 up to $1,000.00 USD), we kindly suggest informing all crew members about these restrictions to avoid problems with authorities and possible delays in the crew departure/arrival schedules.
7. The crew members must arrive in Mexico with their luggage only. They cannot transport any spare parts or large amounts of money in cash since the risk of confiscation is very high.
Crew Members From Restricted Nationalities
1. Crew members from countries restricted for entry to Mexico must come with a Mexican Visa or a USA Visa. If the crewmember does not have these documents, GMC Mexico can send LOI to obtain a Mexican Visa in the Embassy of Mexico in the crew member's home country or nearest place. Owners or crewing companies must bear in mind the time for the Mexican Visa process.
2. With a Mexican Visa or USA Visa on hand, the crew member can travel to Mexico without problems. They will need to show their passport copy and seaman book to the airline's front desk and declare the travel as "transit at Mexico only" to join the vessel in Mexican ports. LOG or OK to board is not necessary to travel to Mexico for some countries if the crew member is holding a Mexican Visa or a USA Visa, but the crew is always advised to carry it with them regardless.
3. Off-signers do not need a USA Visa or Mexican Visa to disembark at Mexican Ports.
4. Passport copy, seaman book, and flight details of joiners and off-signers are necessary for local arrangements. GMC Mexico will need those documents at least three working days before arrival.
5. The scanned copies of the documents must be very clear to avoid rejection by port authorities.
6. Upon arrival at Mexico City Airport, the on-signers must show their Passport, Seaman book, and their Mexican/US Visa. An immigration officer will provide them with a FMM form valid for 180 days.
7. The Customs Service does not allow any alcoholic beverages or cigarettes to enter or be taken out of the port. They will only accept domestic products (Mexican Products), and they must come with their own local sales receipt. To avoid fines that must be covered immediately by the crew (ranging from $700.00 up to $1,000.00 USD) we suggest informing all the crew members about this message to avoid problems with authorities.
8. The crew member must arrive in Mexico with their luggage only. They cannot transport any spare parts or large amounts of money in cash since the risk of confiscation is very high.
Below is a list of countries separated into free and restricted nationalities...
Please note that any crew member with a valid USA visa does NOT have to obtain a Mexican visa; OKTB letters are still required in many countries to aid the crew during their travels.
Port authorities are available from Monday to Friday only. Working days refers to Monday through Friday. (Port authorities are available on Saturday, Sundays, and holidays in Mexico upon request in writing and depending on the celebrated day's nature).Regardless, any emergency embarking or disembarking cannot differ from the procedure described above, unless it is a medical emergency that will be handled through medevac and subject to medevac services' response times.
GMC must be informed of the crew change one week in advance to initiate the coordination process. Documents must be received three days before a crew change, and any changes 48 hours in advance to avoid any delays.