Visa Summary

This visa is relevant for foreign crew (including supernumerary crew) who are employed, or under offer of employment. This visa is used for non-military ships on international voyages to Australia and the ship is:

  • used for commercial trading purposes or for carrying paying passengers
  • owned and operated by a foreign government to do scientific research
  • approved for ‘public vessel status’ by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

In general terms, foreign crew of cargo vessels and cruise ships (other than Australian Permanent Residents and those New Zealand citizens who are eligible for a Special Category visa) are required to hold a Maritime Crew visa. Crew of yachts do not normally qualify for this visa and should seek to obtain a visitor visa or a Superyacht Crew visa.

How does this visa work?

Travelling to Australia by sea

Your Maritime Crew visa is only valid for entry to Australia by sea as crew, supernumerary crew, or the partner or dependent child of crew on a non-military ship.

If you sign off your ship while it is in Australia, you will have five (5) days to either depart Australia or sign onto another non-military ship.

If the ship on which you travel to Australia is ceasing its international voyage status and is declared ‘imported’ for domestic consumption by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs), you will have five (5) days to depart Australia, sign onto another non-military ship or obtain another suitable visa from the department to authorize your continued lawful stay in Australia.

The master of the vessel should make the crew aware if Customs ‘imports’ the vessel. Crew is not permitted to sign-on to an imported vessel with a Maritime Crew visa; they must hold an appropriate visa such as a 457 business visa.

Travelling to Australia by air

You cannot use your Maritime Crew visa for air travel to Australia
If you have been granted a Maritime Crew visa and you have to travel to Australia by air to join your ship in Australia, you must obtain another type of visa which permits travel by air, such as a Transit visa, an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or a Visitor visa.

Using a Transit Visa

You must already hold a Maritime Crew visa in order to be granted a Transit visa to travel to Australia by air to join a vessel as crew. Usually a Transit visa will only allow a single entry to Australia by maritime crew. A new Transit visa will be required each time you seek to travel to Australia by air to join a ship.

You must sign onto your ship within five (5) days of arrival in Australia.

Using an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or a Visitor Visa

You must have been granted your Maritime Crew visa before you sign onto your ship.

You can only apply for a Maritime Crew visa while you are outside Australia.

If you do not already hold a Maritime Crew visa you are strongly encouraged to apply for a Maritime Crew visa well before you intend to fly to Australia.

You must sign onto your ship during the validity period of your visa, (that is, three (3) months from arrival in Australia for an ETA, a Visitor visa is usually three (3) months but may be shorter).

Bringing family

Your partner and dependent children (generally those under 18 years of age), who are travelling to Australia with you as a member of crew of a non-military ship, can each apply on separate applications for a Maritime Crew visa.

The crew member must already have applied for, or been granted, their Maritime Crew visa and a Maritime Crew visa cannot be granted to a partner or dependent child until after the crew member has been granted their visa.

A partner and dependent children must remain on the same vessel as the crew member, in order to continue to hold their Maritime Crew visa. If a crew member’s Maritime Crew visa ceases for any reason, the Maritime Crew visa held by a partner or dependent child will also cease.

A partner and dependent child entering Australia by air and travelling with a crew member, or joining a crew member onboard a ship, must apply for another visa which permits entry by air as the Maritime Crew visa is not valid for air travel.

Work and Study

While they are in Australia, Maritime crew is only able to perform work in relation to the usual operational requirements of the ship. A partner or dependent child is not permitted to work or study while in Australia.

Health

The health of you and your family is your responsibility. You will not be covered by Australia’s national health scheme unless you are from a country that has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia. Any cost associated with any medical treatment required by you or your family when in Australia is your responsibility. You may wish to discuss this with your shipping employer.

If, at the time you enter Australia on your ship, you are suffering from any infectious disease, or one which may pose a public health threat in Australia such as tuberculosis, the master of your ship will be required to notify the relevant quarantine authorities in Australia.

Visa application process

The person who is to receive the visa must be outside Australia at the time the application is submitted.

Passport details

Your visa will be linked to the passport number you use in your application and you should use the same passport to travel to Australia. You must hold a valid national passport. A seafarer’s identity document is not acceptable.

If you applied electronically and have both your Transaction Reference Number (TRN) and passport details you can access your grant letter.

If you obtain a new passport after your Maritime Crew visa (MCV) has been granted, your new passport details will be entered into departmental systems upon arrival and verification in Australia.

Seafarer passports

Some foreign nationals such as citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Russia and Vietnam are issued Seafarers’ Passports. If they hold both National and Seafarers’ Passports, they should apply for the Maritime Crew visa using their National passport.

How to apply

With your knowledge and consent, a third party, such as a shipping agent, can complete and lodge your application on your behalf from information that you provide to the third party.

With your consent the third party may also be the contact person and authorized recipient for written communications about your application for a Maritime Crew visa.

Please ensure that all information requested in the application is complete, accurate and up to date.

Check if a Maritime Crew Visa is held

Use this facility to check if you have a valid Maritime Crew visa.
See: MCV Online Status Enquiry
For further detailed information about the Maritime Crew visa is available by the department.

Visa Requirements

To be eligible to apply for this visa you must:

  • be outside Australia at time of application
  • provide details of your valid national passport (a seafarer’s identity document is not acceptable)
  • be a crew member employed on a non-military ship or under offer of employment on a non-military ship or
  • be the partner or dependent child of one of the above who will accompany that crew person on their ship, and the crew person has already either been granted a Maritime Crew visa or has applied for one.
  • Note: Crew who is employed or under offer of employment includes supernumerary crew who may be under contract or subcontract to provide services, maintenance or warranty work on a ship while it is at sea. Crew also includes scientific research personnel on a scientific research ship owned by a foreign government

Character requirements

All applicants must meet character requirements.

Meeting the character requirement for temporary and permanent migration

For the Australian Government to determine whether you are of good character, you may be asked to provide police certificates for each country you have lived in for 12 months or more over the last ten (10) years since turning 16.

If you are applying outside Australia, you do not have to provide this information when you apply. You will be advised when it is required.

If you are applying in Australia, you should provide this information with your application.

Meeting the character requirement for Australian citizenship

Applicants for Australian citizenship are also responsible for showing they are of good character.

Instructions for providing character-related information for Australian citizenship are available with the application forms and also on the citizenship website.

Penal clearance requirements

In order for the Australian Government to determine whether you are of good character, you may be asked to provide a penal clearance certificate. These certificates are also known as a police certificates in some countries.

Statutory Declaration information

As part of the character assessment, you may be asked to complete a Character statutory declaration.

Conditions and obligations for holders of visa subclass 988

Visa validity and legal requirements to maintain the visa

You must continue to satisfy the legal requirements under which you were granted the visa and its specific requirements while you are in Australia. If not your visa will be cease and it may result as invalid.

If your visa becomes invalid, you will be prevented from leaving your vessel while it is in Australia. In some cases you may be removed from the vessel and placed in detention until arrangements for your departure from Australia are made.

Crew members

Your Maritime Crew visa normally remains valid for three (3) years from the date it is granted.

If you are a crew member, your Maritime Crew visa may automatically cease and be invalid if:

  • you do not sign onto your ship within five (5) days of arriving in Australia by air on a transit visa and hold no other visa (other than a Maritime Crew visa) to remain in Australia
  • any other visa that you hold is cancelled, or if you are in Australia on any other type of visa (other than a Maritime Crew visa) and that visa expires and you become unlawful
  • you sign off your ship and you do not depart Australia within five (5) days, obtain another type of visa or sign onto another non-military ship in that time or
  • the ship on which you travel to Australia is ceasing its international voyage status and is declared ‘imported’ for domestic consumption by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs). Even then if you do not depart Australia within five (5) days, sign onto another non-military ship, or you do not obtain another suitable visa from the department to authorize your continued lawful stay in Australia the visa may be ceased. The master of the vessel should inform the crew if Customs ‘imports’ the vessel or not.

Note: If there are compelling reasons beyond your control which may prevent your departure from Australia within the five (5) day sign off period, you must contact an authorized officer of Customs or the department to consider an extension to the five (5) day period while you are still lawful.

Your Maritime Crew visa will also be ceased if:

  • you no longer satisfy the legal requirements under which you were granted the visa
  • you perform work while in Australia other than work that is required in relation to the usual operational requirements of the ship or
  • it is determined that your presence in Australia is undesirable

Partner and dependent children

If you are a partner or dependent child of a crew member, your Maritime Crew visa will automatically cease and be invalid:

  • if the crew member who is the partner/parent of the holder has their Maritime Crew visa ceased or cancelled
  • if any other visa that is held is cancelled, or if the person is in Australia on any other type of visa and that visa expires and the person becomes unlawful
  • if the visa holder enters Australia on a ship but not with the crew member who is the partner/parent of the visa holder (and no other visa other than a MCV is held)
  • if the visa holder ceases to accompany the crew member who is the partner/parent of the visa holder and does not depart Australia, or obtain another suitable visa from the department to authorize their continued lawful stay in Australia or
  • if the ship on which the visa holder travels to Australia is ceasing its international voyage status and is declared ‘imported’ for domestic consumption by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs), and within five (5) days the visa holder does not depart Australia, join their crew member partner/parent on another non-military ship, or does not obtain another suitable visa from the department to authorize their continued lawful stay in Australia.

Your Maritime Crew visa will also be ceased if:

  • you no longer satisfy the legal requirements under which you were granted the visa
  • you perform any work while in Australia or
  • it is determined that your presence in Australia is undesirable
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