Concern over ratification of Seafarers’ ID Convention

The ratification and implementation of the International Labour Organization’s Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 continue to arouse concerns in the shipping industry.

The convention establishes international standards for seafarers’ identity documents (SIDs) that incorporate features such as machine readability and biometrics. But the original US support for this convention has become hesitant because of its provision that seafarers who have ILO-185 SIDs do not also need to have visas for shore leave.

International security concerns dictate that every seafarer needs to be registered as legitimate, with an identification document that positively identifies him as such. But if seafarers have to have a machine-readable, biometric US visa anyway, some might not bother to get a SID, which could compromise international security.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee meets 12-21 May and maritime security matters to be discussed are likely to include the ILO’s C185. INTERTANKO will stress the importance of rapid ratification by all countries. But note that while this Convention will enter into force six months after the date on which the ratifications of two Members have been registered with the Director-General, it will bind only those ILO members whose ratifications have been registered with the Director-General. It will come into force for any individual Member six months after the date on which that Member’s ratification has been registered.

ILO’s  C185 is available on the ILO web site

Of importance to note within C185 are the following points: Article 6, Shore Leave, and in particular article 6.5 and 6.6 as repeated below:

5. Such entry shall be allowed provided that the formalities on arrival of the ship have been fulfilled and the competent authorities have no reason to refuse permission to come ashore on grounds of public health, public safety, public order or national security.

6. For the purpose of shore leave seafarers shall not be required to hold a visa. Any Member (of ILO) which is not in a position to fully implement this requirement shall ensure that its laws and regulations or practice provide arrangements that are substantially equivalent.

ContactHoward Snaith