A. Measures adopted by the Shipping Deputy Ministry of Cyprus (‘SDM’)
i. Novel Coronavirus – Precautions to be taken to minimize risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships
On 3 February 2020 the SDM issued the Circular 3/2020, through which strongly encouraged all owners, bareboat charterers and managers of ships flying the Cyprus Flag to promulgate information on the basis of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Circular Letter No. 4204, ensuring that seafarers, passengers and others on board ships are provided with accurate and relevant information on the coronavirus outbreak and on the measures to reduce the risk of exposure if they are likely to be engaged on ships trading to and from ports in coronavirus-affected States.
The above mentioned IMO’s circular Letter No.4204 dated 31 January 2020 provides information and guidance on the precautions to be taken to minimise risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships from novel coronavirus.
The said Circular Letter is based on recommendations developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and it contains the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, the WHO’s advice on key preventative measures as well as a non-exhaustive list of links providing advice and guidance to seafarers and shipping. It is worth underlying that on 30 January 2020, the WHO declared that the outbreak of novel coronavirus constituted a Public Health Emergency of international concern.
ii. Coronavirus Disease "COVID-19"- Updates on precautions to be taken to minimise risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships
On 11 March 2020 the SDM issued the Circular 5/2020, through which advised all owners, bareboat charterers and managers of ships flying the Cyprus Flag to take note and implement the measures contained in the latest IMO Circular Letters No.4204/Add.2, No.4204/Add.3 and No.4204/Add.4 as well as the Interim Advice for Ship Operators prepared at the request of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety-DG SANTE.
In addition, the SDM informed all stakeholders that for any technical issues in relation to the spread of COVID-19 requiring special permission from the SDM, applications may be submitted to its Administration and such applications will be considered on a case by case basis.
a) IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.2
The said circular issued on 21 February 2020 and contains the “Joint Statement of the IMO- World Health Organization (WHO) on the Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak”. While recognising the need to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease, the Joint IMO-WHO Statement inter alia notes that unnecessary interference with maritime traffic should be minimised. The Joint IMO-WHO Statement further highlights the importance of avoiding causing unnecessary restrictions or delay on port entry to ships, persons and property on board;
b) IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.3
The said circular issued on 2 March 2020 and contains the “Operational Considerations for Managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak on board ships” developed by the WHO. This document inter alia contains guidance on pre-boarding and pre-disembarkation information, pre-boarding screening, crew education, managing a suspected case on board, disembarkation of a suspect case, development and activation of a written outbreak plan for passenger ships as well as obligations of shipowners to inform the authorities of the next port of call of any suspected case;
c) IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4
The said circular issued on 5 March 2020 and contains the “Guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers” prepared by the International Chamber of Shipping in response to the coronavirus outbreak to support all types of ships and help shipping companies follow advice provided by United Nations Agencies, including the IMO, the WHO as well as the International Labour Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
d) European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE)
On 20 February 2020, following a request from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) an “Interim Advice for Ship operators” 2 was prepared by an ad-hoc working group established with members from the EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS joint action consortium. A copy of said interim advice is attached hereto. This interim advice contains information on minimising the risk for introduction of COVID-19 onto the ship, education and raising passenger and crew awareness, medical supplies and equipment, management of a suspect case, management of contacts, disembarkation, record keeping in the medical log, active surveillance (case finding) as well as cleaning and disinfection.
iii. Special arrangements by the Shipping Deputy Ministry for the provision of services during the COVID-19 outbreak
On 17 March 2020 the SDM, in light of the development of the COVID-19 and the measures announced by the Cyprus Government, issued the Circular 6/2020, through which informed all owners, bareboat charterers and managers of ships flying the Cyprus Flag that from the 17 March 2020 until further notice, the SDM will not be allowing access to the public in its offices and premises.
The following arrangements have been put in place in order for the SDM to maintain its functionality and to continue the effective provision of services to its clients and collaborators:
a) Register of Cyprus Ships
All documents regarding transactions in the Register of Cyprus Ships or in the Special Book of Parallel Registration should be sent electronically to: email@example.com.
In order for the SDM to safeguard a healthy working environment, the original documents should be submitted in a sealed envelope which should be delivered to the special box at the entrance of the main building of the SDM, in Limassol, Cyprus between 9.00 and 14.00 hours.
In addition, all certificates issued upon completion of transactions in the Register of Cyprus Ships will be delivered in a sealed envelope at the entrance of the building following communication with the respective representatives of the owners of the vessels in question.
b) Small Vessels Unit
All documents involving transactions in the Small Vessels Registry should be transmitted either electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at: +357 25 848162.
For the submission of original documents involving small vessels transactions, the same procedure will apply for small vessels as for the Register of Cyprus ships (see paragraph (a) above).
The relevant certificates which will be issued upon the completion of the transactions, will be sent by post to the respective owners/ applicants.
c) Civil Liability Certification (CLC, Bunkers, Wreck Removal and Athens PLR)
Queries and applications with respect to Civil Liability Certification (CLC, Bunkers, Wreck Removal and Athens PLR) should be addressed electronically only at the dedicated email address email@example.com. Information with respect to the procedure, online payments and application forms is available on the SDM’s website, under the section "Our Services/ Civil Liability Certification".
d) Flag State Control Unit
All requests must be submitted electronically to the following dedicated e-mail addresses of the Unit:
ISPS/Security issues: firstname.lastname@example.org
ISM issues: email@example.com
Flag State issues: firstname.lastname@example.org
e) Maritime Safety Unit
All requests must be submitted electronically to the following dedicated e-mail addresses of the Unit:
Safety issues: email@example.com
CSR issues: firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe manning issues: email@example.com
f) Seafarers and Maritime Labour Unit
The delivery of hard copy applications for the issuance of the following will not be possible during the above period:
All applications for the above must be submitted electronically:
- through our electronic application system E-SAS (for managers or owners of Cyprus flagged vessels); or
- by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- or by fax at: +357 25 305030
Payments for the above will be accepted only electronically using debit/credit cards
through JCC at the link: https://www.jccsmart.com/e-bill/invoices/197/pay
Or by bank transfer using the following bank account:
IBAN: CY23 0020 0339 0000 0001 0168 5800
Cyprus certificates, endorsements and seaman‘s books will be sent by registered mail and will also send PDF copies by email upon request. The electronic copy will be substituting the original for maximum one month from the date of issuance of certificates, endorsements or seaman s books which will be used in Cyprus and for three months for use outside Cyprus
g) Coastal Navigation Unit
Entry to the premises for the collection of certificates / licenses or the submission of applications for the following activities is strictly prohibited:
All the above applications shall be submitted by email at: email@example.com or by fax at: +357 25 848 220.
All payments should be made online with credit / debit card through JCC at the following link:
Or by bank transfer using the following bank account:
IBAN: CY23 0020 0339 0000 0001 0168 5800
All certificates and licenses issued by the SDM will be sent with registered mail and if the applicant requests it, an electronic copy in PDF form will also be sent via email. The electronic copy can be used in replacement of the original document for a period of one (1) month from the date of issue of the original.
Entry in the premises will be allowed ONLY to individuals that have scheduled appointments with officers of the SDM.
h) Maritime Surveillance and Anti-pollution Unit
-LRIT : All inquiries related to LRIT matters to be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
-Ship Radio Licenses : All inquiries related to Ship Radio License matters to be submitted by email to email@example.com
-Vessel Traffic Information Management System Centre (VTMIS)
Contact details 24/7
Telephone: +357 25848114 (24 hours) +357 25848277 (24 hours)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: +357 25848173 (24 hours)
i) Marine Environment Unit
All inquiries related to Marine Environment Unit should be sent at: email@example.com
j) Port State Control Unit, Port Security Unit and Accident investigation Unit
All services related to the above Units will continue to be executed. For inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: +357 99 642801.
k) Tonnage Tax System Unit
All urgent queries must be submitted by email. During the above period and in order to minimise the movements and contacts, no hard copies will be accepted. All applications and tax declarations can be submitted electronically with scanned copies of the signed documents, to the following email addresses: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
l) Payment Transactions
All payments should be made in one of the following ways:
PERMANENT SECRETARY OF SHIPPING DEPUTY MINISTRY TO THE PRESIDENT
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 0339-01-016858-00
IBAN: CY23 0020 0339 0000 0001 0168 5800
SWIFT address (BIC Code) of Bank of Cyprus Public Company Ltd is BCYPCY2N
Given the extraneous circumstances arising due to COVID-19, certain delays in the processing of requests may arise. Every effort will be made for the smooth execution of requests, particularly those of urgent nature, and the provision of all the necessary information.
iv. EU Commission Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19
On 23 March 2020 the SDM, due to the significant impact of the Covid -19 outbreak on tourism and transport in view of the containment measures taken by governments such as travel restrictions, lock-downs and quarantize zones, issued the Circular 7/2020, through which informed all owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of ppassenger ships and Ro-Ro passenger vessels, flying the Cyprus Flag that the European Commission has issued Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid – 19 (C(2020) 1830 final dated 18.3.2020).
v. Urgent Provisional Measures for the operation of Cyprus ships during the Covid-19 outbreak
On 31 March 2020 the SDM issued the Circular 8/2020 (which must be placed on board vessels flying the Cyprus flag), through which informed all owners, bareboat charterers and managers of ships flying the Cyprus Flag regarding the urgent provisional measures adopted relating to a plethora of matters, which are stated below.
In an effort to support shipping companies and owners of Cyprus ships and to enable them to address the difficulties encountered due to the coronavirus outbreak, the SDM has put in place special arrangements for its smooth operation and the effective provision of services to its clients and collaborators, remaining fully operational and continuing to provide its high-quality services without any disruption, so that all ships registered under the Cyprus flag will continue to operate as usual.
In response to these unprecedented and continuously changing conditions, as well as the need for continuous updates and information arising from this force majeure situation, the Cyprus Maritime Administration has prepared a dedicated section in its website where all related information and circulars issued by the SDM, Cyprus, the EU and the IMO regarding Covid -19 can be found: www.shipping.gov.cy.
Furthermore, the SDM outlines below a number of urgent provisional measures adopted relating to the following matters:
a) Seafarers’ Certification
In light of the recent developments and the difficulties encountered in crew changes worldwide, the SDM has adopted the following measures applicable to seafarers that joined the ship prior 1st of March 2020 and remain on board with a renewed contract:
b) Statutory Surveys for Internationally Trading vessels
The SDM acknowledges that Cyprus flag vessels and their operators alike are encountering increasing difficulties in arranging the surveys, audits, inspections and servicing activities required under national and international regulations due to a lack of availability of surveyors and auditors, travel restrictions, limited access to port facilities and the shutdown of many airports around the globe. For this reason, the following arrangements will apply:
- Surveys in areas not affected by Covid-19
Operators are urged to consider arranging surveys/ audits/ inspections of their vessels as early as possible and, if practicable, within the window provided by the relevant international maritime Conventions at locations and under conditions which will not adversely affect the health of the personnel involved.
- Extension of surveys
Extension of the annual/ intermediate/ periodic or renewal surveys is possible for all ships’ statutory certificates, subject to authorisation. Extension is possible for up to 3 months from the last date of the window survey, provided that this request is supported by the Classification society of the vessel.
- Remote Inspection
The Administration may also accept a remote inspection in lieu of the onboard survey, whenever the Recognised Organisation (RO) proposes that any of the above-mentioned surveys may be carried out by remote inspection techniques.
- Short Term Certificate
In the event that the authorised RO is unable to attend the vessel to complete a survey or inspection leading to the endorsement or renewal of a relevant certificate, then a short-term certificate may be issued with validity of not more than 3 months from the date of expiration of the current certificate or the closure of the required window for the conduct of the required activity. It remains the responsibility of the operator and the Master to ensure that the vessel is maintained and operated in accordance with the statutory requirements for the duration of the short-term certificate.
- Re-alignment of Certificate dates
On expiration of the short-term certificate, or earlier if circumstances permit, a survey or inspection, must be completed and a new certificate issued, aligned with the expiration date of the previous certificate.
c) International Safety Management (ISM) Code & International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code Verifications
If, due to restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, an auditor or inspector cannot attend ISM/ISPS upcoming inspections, audits, or verifications due before 01 July 2020, a Recognised Organisation (RO) or Recognised Security Organisation (RSO) must notify the Administration and obtain relevant authorisation, unless specified otherwise, as follows:
1. ISM Code
- Internal Annual ISM Verification
Authorisation is required for a 3-month extension to the 12-month interval for shore-side and shipboard internal audits. The audit may be postponed for a further 3 months without further authorisation from the Administrator. For audits to be carried out during the 3-month extension period, the Administrator will accept a remote audit in lieu of a physical audit. No further authorisation to carry out a remote internal audit is required from the Administrator. This may also be applied to internal audits which are required to be completed prior to the external verification.
- Initial ISM Verification
Authorisation is required for an extension of the Interim Safety Management Certificate (SMC) with validity for a minimum period required to complete the initial verification and for a period no longer than 3 months.
- Intermediate ISM Verification
Authorisation is required for the issuance of a short-term SMC that is valid for a period of no longer than 3 months.
- Renewal ISM Verification
Authorisation is required for an extension of the SMC for no longer than 3 months.
- Document of Compliance Verification
Authorisation is required for the issuance of a short-term DOC, valid for a period of no longer than 3 months, in the event that a company is unable to complete the necessary verifications due to the current Covid-19 circumstances.
2. ISPS Code
- Internal Annual ISPS Verification
Internal Audits ISPS Verification may be postponed for up to 3 months without further authorisation from the Administration. For audits to be carried out during the 3-month extension period, the Administrator will accept a remote audit in lieu of a physical audit. No further authorisation to carry out a remote internal audit is required from the Administrator. This may also be applied to internal audits which are required to be completed prior to the external verification.
- Initial ISPS Verification
The Administration will authorise a consecutive Interim International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC) with validity for the minimum period required to complete the initial verification and for a period no longer than 3 months.
- Intermediate ISPS Verification
Authorisation is required for the issuance of a short-term ISSC with validity of no longer than 3 months.
- Renewal ISPS Verification
Authorisation is required for an extension of the ISSC for no longer than 3 months.
3. Remote Audits
The Administration may also accept a remote audit in lieu of the onboard audit, whenever the RO/RSO confirms that such audits may be carried out by remote auditing techniques.
d) Guidance for Recognised Organisations
Where a Recognised Organisation is able to conduct a survey on board a vessel in compliance with the normal course of survey and certification, no notification to the SDM is required and the relevant certificate may be issued or endorsed as necessary. In the case of ISM and ISPS related audits, the associated RO is obliged to inform the SDM as per Circular No. 03/2019 at: email@example.com and as per Circular No. 24/2015 at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For statutory certificates issued by an RO, and the issuance of a short-term certificate or extension as provided on the basis of this Circular, the SDM should be notified electronically as soon as practicable at email@example.com
e) Compulsory Insurance
Owners and Managers of Cyprus flagged ships remain liable to maintain at all times compulsory insurance in force and, if applicable, carry on board relevant Certificate(s) in hard copy or electronic format under the 2006 MLC Convention, the 2001 Bunkers Convention, the 1992 CLC Convention, the 2007 Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention, Directive 2009/20/EC and the Athens PLR Regulation (EC) No.392/2009, to the extent that these instruments apply.
vi. Extension of the date of payment of Tonnage Tax and Cyprus Registry Maintenance Annual Fee
On 2 April 2020 the SDM issued the Circular 9/2020, through which informed all owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of ships flying the Cyprus Flag that it has decided, for the 2020 tax year, to extend the date of payment of the Cyprus Registry Maintenance Annual Fee and the Tonnage Tax with respect to Cyprus ships on 31 May 2020 (instead of 31 March 2020).
The Taxation of Owners of Cyprus Ships (Special Provisions on Collection) Notification of 2020 (P.I 136/2020), has been published in the Official Gazette of the Republic (No. 5237 Suppl. III(I), dated 2/04/2020), providing that the Tonnage Tax with respect to Cyprus ships and the Cyprus Registry Maintenance Annual Fee, for the 2020 year only, are now due for payment on 31 May 2020.
vii. Support of Seafarers with formal crew changeover process
The SDM, on 6 May 2020 formally announced a new process to facilitate crew changes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Crew changes for vessels are possible in Cyprus provided certain conditions are met. The relevant decrees issued by the Ministry of Health also permit the long-term stay in anchorage of vessels, including cruise ships (warm lay-up).
Cyprus is actively supporting and implementing such measures, in support of recommendations from the International Maritime Organisation, European Union, International Labour Organization and International Chamber of Shipping. The process has been formalised to support safe and efficient shipping operations, in line with growing recognition for seafarers as key workers.
The main conditions under which crew changes are permitted include the following:
People arriving in Cyprus by aeroplane have been subject to self-isolation conditions for 14 days before their arrival; and
b) Negative coronavirus test
People arriving in Cyprus by aeroplane have been subjected to a PCR-based coronavirus test either in the country they are in or, if not possible, in Cyprus upon their arrival.
c) Logistics Management
The company or agent arranging the crew change is entirely responsible for arranging the transfer of all seafarers from the vessel to the airport and from the airport to the vessel, taking all the necessary precautions. If the times of arrival of the ship and the aeroplane do not coincide, or if the PCR-based test results are still pending, the company or agent will need to make arrangements in coordination with governmental authorities for the crew to remain in isolation at a designated address until the time of their departure. Where possible, seafarers should stay onboard the vessel during this period.
These new measures are in addition to existing deadline extensions granted by Cyprus. To support seafarers, deadlines for Certificates of Competency, Certificates of Proficiency, Medical Fitness Certificates, Seafarer’s Identification, and Sea Service Record Books have been extended under specific conditions and where safety is not comprised.
B. Measures adopted by the Cyprus Ports Authority
The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, in exercising the powers vested in him by article 14 (1) of the Cyprus Ports Authority Legislation of 1973 to 2016, issued on 9 April 2020 the following instructions for the implementation of Restrictive Measures at Ports and Port Installations in order to counter the COVID 19 Pandemic.
In the framework of the measures implemented to address the emergency situation in Cyprus as a result of the COVID 19 outbreak, it is imperative that Cyprus’ ports and port installations, which constitute essential infrastructure and services, continue to operate in order to support the economy, the health system as well as the viability of social cohesion on the island.
Consequently, in order to ensure the smooth and continuous operation of ports and port installations, particularly to avoid shortages of food and medical supplies and to protect public interest, the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works issues the following instructions concerning restrictive measures to be implemented by both the Cyprus Ports Authority and Contractors/ Operators/ licensed agents for port services and port installations, at all the ports and port installations:
a) Before navigators board the pilot boat:
b) Boarding a ship
c) Disembarkation of navigators from pilot boat
10. Those who, having no other choice, have to be on board a ship to carry out some work such as checks on unloading machinery (e.g. bulk carriers, oil products) and to deal with safety issues, they will have to comply with the instructions – wherever these apply – relating to embarkation and disembarkation of navigators as these are outlined in paragraph 9.
11. With regard to the stay of a person/persons aboard a ship, irrespective of the duration of their stay, such as the “Mooring Master” for the transfer of oil products from one vessel to another – “STS Operations” - and specialists in unloading oil products to electricity production stations, the following must be adhered to:
a) The vessel carrying the load must have a certificate confirming that the cabins of the person/persons have been disinfected. If possible, accommodation must be in single or double cabins.
b) It must be clarified whether there is available a personal toilet for this personnel. If there is, then the personnel shall remain isolated in their cabins without any contact with the personnel of the ship and will use exclusively the private toilets, applying strict measures for personal protection/hygiene. If there is no private toilet, then the ship must designate a separate toilet for these people. This toilet must have been disinfected beforehand and a certificate issued to this effect.
c) The person/persons must remove with care the means of personal protection/hygiene once they have finished their inspection and before they enter the cabin. On leaving the cabin, and since they will come into contact with the personnel of the ship, means of personal protection/hygiene must be available for a change in the cabin. The means of personal protection/hygiene must be finally removed according to the instructions for the navigators (when they are on land).
d) Special attention must be given to avoid unnecessary stay of any personnel on board a ship near the Mooring Master/ Specialised persons.
e) With regard to nutrition, it is recommended that he/they carry with him/them the necessary supplies for the duration of his/their stay on board the ship. In case they need anything else, this will be left outside his/their cabin and hands will be thoroughly cleaned.
12. It is forbidden to the crew to disembark. Work on the quay for maintenance purposes of the ship e.g. painting, washing etc. is also forbidden.
13. The berth of any type of ship/vessel/recreation vessel, except for the purpose of replenishing supplies and of its immediate departure, is prohibited. A commercial ship is allowed to stay at the anchorage provided it is waiting to enter the port or the port installations to carry out some kind of work.
14. All those who enter the ports and port installations must observe strictly the instructions of the Health Services and Public Health relating to measures for personal protection/hygiene. It is understood that requests, submitted to the Cyprus Ports Authority by way of exception for permission for the movement of citizens with regard to the implementation of the above restrictive measures, will be forwarded by the Cyprus Ports Authority to the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works to be studied and to issue a decision.
C. Gradual easing of covid-19 lockdown measures by the Cyprus Government
On 29 April 2020, the President of the Republic of Cyprus announced the governmental plan of the 3 phases of the gradual easing of covid-19 lockdown measures and the restart of the Cyprus economy.
More specifically, the Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus on 30 April 2020, issued the Regulatory Administrative Act 183/2020, through which announced the 3 phases of Cyprus’ lockdown exit roadmap, which will be subject to adjustments based on how well the island responds to the gradual easing of restrictions.
According to the said Regulatory Administrative Act, it will be allowed the following:
Phase 1: 4 May – 20 May 2020
Phase 2: 21 May – 8 June 2020
Phase 3: 9 June – 13 July 2020
Author: Zacharias L. Kapsis