COVID-19: Maritime sector

Information and guidance for the maritime sector.

Last updated: 12 July 2021

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Maritime Border Order

The Maritime Border Order provides clear and consistent rules for safe crew changes and the safe movement of cargo to and from New Zealand.

See more information on the Maritime Border Order - Epidemic Notice and Orders.

The Maritime Border Order will work alongside immigration rules, and both must be complied with.

Arriving vessels will still be required to meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements, to prevent the introduction of pests and plant and animal diseases to New Zealand.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) Amendment Order (No 2) 2021

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) Amendment Order (No 2) 2021 (the Amendment Order) came into force at 11:59pm on 21 June 2021 and amends the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) 2020. Amongst other changes, the Amendment Order:

  • introduces a legal mandate for testing of off-signing maritime replacement crew;
  • permits travel within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone without requiring isolation or quarantine upon arrival back in New Zealand
  • introduces new Signage requirements for ships situated at a quarantine berth.

Guidance on some of the key changes under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) Amendment Order (No 2) 2020 is below.

Extended Notice of Arrival

The Extended Notice of Arrival is an important document that all ships coming into New Zealand will need to complete 7 days out from arrival.

The form can be downloaded, or completed online, and submitted to: [email protected].

Key elements of the Maritime Border Order

  • Bans foreign ships from arriving in New Zealand, with a range of exceptions, including
    • fishing ships and cargo ships
    • those that have been granted permission if there is a humanitarian reason or a compelling need for the ship to be delivered to a NZ business.
  • Requires the testing, isolation and quarantine of arriving crew. 
  • Requires most arrivals by sea to have quarantined or isolated on board their ship for at least 14 days since the last port of call or since it last took crew, and requires every person on board the ship to meet the low-risk indicators (including a negative COVID-19 test) before any person may enter the New Zealand community.
  • If persons arriving by sea cannot appropriately isolate or quarantine on board their ship, they will be transferred to a MIQ facility.
  • Introduces infringement offences under the COVID-19 Act.

Further information and guidance on the legal requirements that apply to all ships and crew that are in New Zealand or intending to come to New Zealand. 

Border Worker Vaccination

To prevent COVID-19 coming into our communities, we must continuously strengthen our border by protecting all people who work there. Alongside workers at Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities, workers at the border are at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Because COVID-19 is an ever-present risk at our ports, the mandatory vaccination requirement (which already applies to MIQ workers) has been expanded to include people who undertake work in these areas.

Required COVID-19 testing for maritime workers

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Order 2020 requires routine testing of specified maritime workers for COVID-19.

You are required to be tested every 7 days if you are:

  • Persons (other than excluded port persons )who spend more than 15 minutes in enclosed space on board affected ships
  •  Pilots (other than excluded port persons) carrying out work on or around affected ships
  • Workers who transport crew to or from affected ships

You are required to be tested every 14 days if you are:

  • Stevedores (other than excluded port persons) carrying out work on or around affected ships
  • Persons (other than excluded port persons) who board, or have boarded, affected ships
  • Workers who transport persons (other than crew) to or from affected ships
  • All other port workers (other than excluded port persons) who interact with persons required to be in isolation or quarantine under COVID-19 Order
  • Workers who handle affected items within 72 hours of their removal from affected ships and who have contact with members of any of the groups specified above, while both are working

Note: Workers can be exempt from testing requirements if a ship has not arrived at the affected port from a location outside New Zealand for a period of at least 14 consecutive days. 

Guidance for COVID-19 testing for disembarking maritime crew

The Guidance for Testing Disembarking Maritime Crew specifically addresses procedures for persons isolating or quarantining on a ship, to enable them to disembark temporarily (e.g. for shore leave), or permanently, into New Zealand, after completing isolation and quarantine requirements.

Guidance for COVID-19 testing for transferring maritime crew

The Guidance for Testing Transferring Maritime Crew specifically addresses processes for undertaking testing of asymptomatic off-signing and on-signing crew members on ships arriving at New Zealand ports.

Scenarios to assist with the isolation or quarantine process at the maritime border 

This advice updates scenarios for isolation and quarantine processes at the maritime border. This is a living document and will be updated and revised as the Order is implemented and processes are further refined.  

Please send any queries or comments to [email protected] 

Signage for ships in isolation or quarantine

Clause 24(4A) of Maritime Border Order (No2) requires the master of a ship in isolation or quarantine to display prescribed signage. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that those at port are able to clearly identify which vessels are still in isolation, and which vessels may be safely approached and embarked.

The Director-General of Health has prescribed the following signage for this purpose.

The signage must be clear and visible and secured at the place where the ship is berthed.

Guidance for small craft and yacht arrivals in New Zealand

Information for small craft and yacht owners and operators (and their agents) who are considering travelling to New Zealand while the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order (No 2) 2020 is in effect.

Exemption for vessels to enter New Zealand

Under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) (No.2) Order 2020 (the Order), foreign vessels are not permitted to arrive in New Zealand unless they have an exemption. The permission to grant these exemptions lies with the Director-General of Health.

Vessels may be granted an exemption to arrive in New Zealand in the following circumstances:

  • All of the persons on board the ship are able to travel to New Zealand in accordance with the Immigration Act 2009;
  • The ship is seeking permission to arrive in New Zealand for the purpose of:
    • Reprovisioning or refuelling, or both;
    • Carrying out a refit or a refurbishment of, or a repair to, the ship that is more than minor; or
    • Delivering the ship to a business
  • There is a compelling need for the ship to arrive in New Zealand for humanitarian reasons.

Under the Order, the Director-General the Director-General must consider the public health risk of the ship arriving in New Zealand, and the resources available to manage that risk. Other factors may also be taken into account, including the urgency of the need for the ship to arrive for the stated purpose, the monetary contribution to New Zealand’s economy of the ship’s arrival for the stated purpose, the risk of COVID-19 being spread to New Zealanders and any related health concerns, the likelihood of those onboard complying with requirements, and the likely administrative costs required to carry out compliance activities.

Each application is considered thoroughly on its own merits and as such we recommend that exemptions are sought and a decision received well in advance of the vessel departing for New Zealand. This will avoid the possibility of vessels needing to change plans mid-journey if the application is declined. 

Applicants will also need to apply for and obtain Immigration New Zealand approval following approval for exemption from the Director-General of Health.  

Note on humanitarian applications
For clarity, humanitarian reasons would be unlikely to include situations relating solely to financial loss, or to vessels travelling primarily for pleasure or convenience such as tourists or ‘wintering over’. People in vessels travelling to New Zealand to ‘winter over’ (eg, to avoid hurricane/cyclone season in the Pacific) may have other genuine humanitarian reasons which would need to be demonstrated in order for these vessels to qualify for an exemption.

How to apply for an exemption

To apply for an exemption to enter New Zealand please complete the following documents and email them to [email protected].

See also the process for exemption of vessels arriving in New Zealand.

No Change of Health Status Report for Health Pratique form

Form for vessels arriving in New Zealand, updated to include questions relating to COVID-19.

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