The International Maritime Organization has issued a news release advising of amendments to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) that take effect starting January 1, 2018. The amendment adds a new provision that prevents any discrimination for shore leave on grounds of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, or social origin. Shore leave should be granted, irrespective of the flag State of the ship. If any request is turned down, the relevant public authorities must provide an explanation to the crew member and the master, which the seafarer or master can request to be provided in writing.
The other significant amendment is the requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange, including electronic data interchange (EDI), to transmit information related to maritime transport. This should be in place by April 8. 2019, with provision for a transitional period during which paper and electronic documents would be allowed. Use of a "single window" for data is encouraged, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.