Crew change

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for the biosecurity clearance of international crew members permanently leaving a vessel at an Australian port.

Crew members are not permitted to take biosecurity risk items off the vessel. Biosecurity risk items are any items that pose a risk of introducing any exotic weed, pest or disease into Australia. Potential items and activities of biosecurity concern are:

  • meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables
  • grains, seeds, bulbs, straw, nuts, plants, parts of plants, traditional medicines or herbs, wooden articles
  • animals, parts of animals, animal products including equipment, pet food, eggs, biologicals, specimens, birds, fish, insects, shells, bee products
  • soil, items with soil attached or used in freshwater areas; e.g. sports/recreational equipment, shoes
  • recent travel that involved contact with farms, farm animals, wilderness areas, or freshwater streams/ lakes etc. in the last 30 days.

As part of the crew member’s obligations in leaving (permanently disembarking) a vessel in Australia, they are required to complete a Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) - Crew Declaration (Form B465) that includes, but is not limited to, biosecurity questions about the above risk items or activities.

What needs to be reported to the department

Crew change

The vessel Master or agent is required to notify the department of crew leaving the vessel permanently and whether they have biosecurity items to declare. The vessel Master or agent must not allow crew to remove items from the vessel without permission.

Note: Crew changes in Australia cannot proceed until pratique is granted. For more information, go to pratique.

Human Health status

Masters of vessels are also required, as part of their pre and post-arrival reporting obligations, to advise the department if any crew member has reported or is displaying the symptoms of a listed human disease onboard the vessel. Further information on how to report Human Health in MARS can be found in the MARS Quick Reference Guide - Human Health Update QRG011.

When and how to report a crew change

Vessel Masters or Agents must notify the department if any crew will be permanently leaving the vessel in Australia as soon as this becomes known. There are two ways that a vessel Master or Agent can notify the department of a crew change:

  • Pre-arrival - By reporting crew change on the Pre-Arrival Report (PAR), i.e. this is done in the Biosecurity tab section: Question #10) “Will the crew sign off while the vessel is at berth or anchorage in Australian waters?” A “Yes” response will generate further details to be supplied including whether there are biosecurity items to declare; or
  • Post Arrival - By submitting a Crew Change Service Request in MARS, if not originally notified on the PAR.

Reporting is in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015, sections 193 and 194. See the MARS Quick Reference Guide – Crew Change Service Request, for step by step instructions on how to submit a Crew Change Service Request in MARS.

The department must also be notified if any information has changed from what was reported in the initial PAR or Crew Change Service Request. Change is reported by submitting a revised Crew Change Service Request in MARS as soon as practicable.

Assessment by the department

Biosecurity officers at the arrival port will assess the crew change information provided and will notify the master and/or agent, via email or phone, whether a crew change inspection will be conducted. Alternatively the biosecurity officer will give written permission for the crew to disembark the vessel without further intervention.

If an inspection is required, it is the vessel Master or Agent’s responsibility to arrange a suitable inspection time with the local biosecurity office either by phone or email. It is important to advise when crew members will be available for the inspection, prior to their departure from the vessel.

At the time of inspection, all bags and goods may be inspected by a biosecurity officer who will advise crew members on suitable actions to manage the risk. In most cases crew will be directed to leave the biosecurity risk items on the vessel. Crew members leaving the vessel may also be cleared by biosecurity officers as part of the routine vessel inspection.

Compliance with the department’s requirements will result in the department decreasing intervention commensurate with the risk posed by the vessel.

Fees

A fee for crew change clearance service is charged according to the fee for service rate. This fee is in addition to that charged for the routine vessel inspection or documentary clearance.

For more information on fees, please see the department’s charging guidelines.