01-06-2018

Brazil – new migration law affecting seafarers

We refer to our alert “Gard Alert: Fines in Brazil” of 28 November 2016 (here) warning Members and clients of the risk of being fined due to crew overstays in Brazilian ports.

A new Migration Law (Law 13,445 of May 2017) entered into force in Brazil in November 2017 and has changed the country’s immigration policy and regulations. According to Gard’s local correspondent, Representações Proinde (Norte) Ltda., the changes are predominantly positive for the maritime and offshore industries as they have shed light on some of the ‘grey areas’ that existed under the previous legislation. Proinde has published a useful guide on how the new immigration regulations apply to seafarers. This guide aims to provide a practical overview of the main regulatory aspects related to foreign seafarers in Brazil and Brazilian seafarers serving on board foreign vessels in the light of the new legal framework. The Guide is available here

To summarise, the correspondent advises that seafarers entering Brazil on ocean-going vessels are now permitted to stay up to 90 days in each migratory year without a visa provided they carry valid seaman’s books issued by a country signatory to the ILO Identity Documents Convention (C185). Those staying longer than 90 days will need to obtain a temporary work visa. The period of stay is counted from the date of the first entry into Brazil to the date when the vessel leaves the last national port or the date when the seafarer is repatriated.

In addition to the new law, the Brazilian authorities have issued new resolutions that reiterate the obligation on foreign ships and offshore platforms to hire more Brazilian seafarers when operating in Brazilian waters. The percentage of the crew required to be Brazilian nationals depends on the ship type and operation as well as the period of continuous operation in Brazilian waters.

According to our correspondent, fines for overstays have been the most common type of immigration penalties levied on seafarers visiting Brazil and the new Migration Law has substantially increased the value of such fines, which can now reach up to USD 3,000 for individuals and up to USD 300,000 for companies that violate the immigration regulations. Members and clients calling at Brazilian ports, or chartering ships to Brazilian ship operators, are therefore advised to familiarise themselves with Brazilian immigration laws and inform their Masters accordingly. In order to avoid deportation notices and fines, Masters should be instructed to closely monitor the amount of time each crewmember has stayed in Brazil and report to the local agent well in advance of the limit being reached in order to ensure there is sufficient time for any visa applications to be submitted.

Source: Gard (http://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/25604829/brazil-new-migration-law-affecting-seafarers)

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