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New orders - Mandatory AIS and insurance for seafarers in the UAE, February 2018

As of 31 January 2018, shipowners must have liability insurance covering up to four months of wages and provisions, medical care and repatriation costs for all seafarers working on vessels calling at UAE Ports or anchoring in the UAE's territorial waters or Exclusive Economic Zone. This is in line with the requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006.

This new mandatory insurance requirement extends to any operator, manager and bareboat charterer as well as the registered owner of the vessel. It applies to all seafarers on UAE and foreign vessels exceeding a deadweight of 200 tonnes.

Under new decision No 1 of 2018 issued by the Chairman of the UAE's Federal Transport Authority (FTA), the owners of UAE flagged vessels and of other foreign vessels operating under a navigation licence in the UAE, must procure the above liability cover from an insurer recognised by the FTA and must provide the FTA with a copy of the relevant certificate of insurance within seven days of its issuance. Other foreign vessels should procure an equivalent insurance policy from a recognised insurer in their flag state.

The FTA has authority to inspect any foreign vessel at berth or at anchorage in the UAE to ensure compliance with the above requirement. A warning will initially be issued to a vessel in breach. In the event of a further breach, the FTA can ban the relevant vessel from calling at UAE Ports and from sailing in UAE waters.

Another development is that Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders are now mandatory on all foreign vessels in the UAE.

This is pursuant to a new decision by the Chairman of the FTA, which requires that all foreign vessels calling at UAE Ports or sailing through the UAE's territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone must now maintain a live AIS at all times. The decision was passed on 24 December 2017 and is effective as of 31 January 2018. It includes all vessels regardless of size and tonnage.

The above FTA decision, however, does not clarify what penalties are applicable in case of breach.

For further information, please contact the author of this briefing:

Yaman Al Hawamdeh
Partner, Dubai
T +971 4 423 0531
E yaman.alhawamdeh@hfw.com

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