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MPA issues guidelines on medical examination and certification for seafarers

31 Mar 2020

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Monday (30 March) issued a marine circular outlining the criteria in undergoing medical examination for seafarers and obtaining a Seafarer’s medical certificate to work onboard any Singapore-registered vessels:


This Shipping Circular supersedes MPA’s Shipping Circular no 13 of 2013. 

International Maritime Organisation (IMO), together with the International Labour Organisation, has developed a set of guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers. The guidelines are published as IMO’s circular STCW.7/Circular 19, attached as Annex A of this circular. MPA has adopted the guidelines as our national requirements for medical examination of seafarers. 

Every seafarer working onboard Singapore Registered Ships shall hold a valid seafarer’s medical certificate. A seafarer’s medical certificate shall follow the requirements of minimum information to be provided in the certificate as set out in the STCW Convention 1978, as amended, and the medical standards set out in the IMO’s circular STCW.7/Circular 19 (Annex A of this circular). These standards should also meet the requirements as prescribed in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006. 

Recognition of Medical Practitioners 

MPA accepts valid seafarer’s medical certificate issued by the following medical practitioners: 

  1. Registered medical practitioners licensed to practice in Singapore and familiar with the guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers. The list of registered medical practitioners in Singapore is given in the website http://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg; or 
  2. Medical practitioners recognised by an STCW State Party in the “IMO White List”. Please refer to the updated revision of the IMO document MSC.1/Circ.1163/ for the latest “IMO white list, as the list is updated from time to time; or 
  3. A medical practitioner recognised by an MLC State Party and familiar with the guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers; or 
  4. Any other medical practitioners that are accepted by the Director. 

Part 3 of the guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers provides the necessary information needed in a medical assessment and the seafarer’s medical certificate to be issued to seafarers. The sample formats for the “Record of Medical Examinations of Seafarer” and “Seafarer’s Medical Certificate” are provided in Annex B and Annex C of this circular respectively. 

Seafarer’s Medical Certificate 

Recognised medical practitioners are required to use the format as given in Annex C of this circular when issuing seafarer’s medical certificates. They are also required to retain records of medical inspection of seafarers for at least 3 years. 

Seafarer’s medical certificates shall be valid for not more than 2 years or not more than 1 year in the case of a seafarer under the age of 18 years. If a seafarer’s medical certificate expires in the course of a voyage, then the certificate shall remain valid until the next port of call. 

There are three (3) categories of seafarer’s medical certificates which may be issued to the following persons: 

  1. able to perform all duties worldwide within designated department (unlimited); or 
  2. able to perform some but not all routine and emergency duties or to work in limited area (e.g. within 30 miles from a port) (L – limited duration or R – limited job scope); or 
  3. incompatible with the reliable performance of routine and emergency duties safely or effectively (Temporary or Permanent – unfit for sea service). 

A seafarer who has been refused issuance of a seafarer’s medical certificate or has a limitation imposed in his certificate, may appeal to the Director of Marine for a review by another independent medical practitioner. 

Ship managers and masters should ensure that seafarers are only deployed to perform duties for which they are medically fit. For example, only seafarers who are fit for the deck department – (i.e. comply with requirements for eye-sight, colour vision and hearing) should be permitted to perform bridge watch keeping or lookout duties. 

Any queries regarding this circular should be directed to MPA (Email: COC@mpa.gov.sg) 

A full copy of the circular is available for download here.

Photo credit:
Manifold Times
Published: 31 March, 2020

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