Maritime Crew Visas and Signing Off Protocols

Maritime Crew Visas and Signing Off Protocols

The following advice on crew signing off a vessel and departing Australia is issued by the Australian Border Force.

Steps to take at sign off

When signing off your vessel at an Australian port, Maritime Crew Visa (MCV) holders have only five (5) days to depart Australia or sign-on to another non-military ship before their MCV automatically ceases to be valid.

If an MCV holder is not able to depart Australia within five days, to remain lawfully within Australia, you must either:

  • apply for an extension of the five day period; or
  • hold another visa that allows you to remain in Australia until you can depart; or
  • apple for another visa that allows you to remain in Australia until you can depart.

Need to apply for an extension of time for sign off?

An extension of your MCV sign-off period can be requested via email and lodged along with Form B521 Seaports – Notification of Sign-Off.

Periods of onshore stay up to 30 days from the date of your most recent arrival in Australia may be approved.

  • The Master and/or Agent of the vessel should complete the form, and send through to the Australian Border Force (ABF) at the Port of Arrival.
  • If the Master and/or Agent requires contact details, they should contact the relevant ABF District Office, whose details can be found online here.
  • An ABF Officers will inform the Master and/or Agent of the vessel that the extension has been granted, including the new end date to the sign-off period.

Need to apply for another visa?

If you need more than 30 days to depart, please apply for any other visa that allows you to remain in Australia. In this circumstance, a Visitor visa may be an appropriate option for you.

The applications must be lodged before your MCV extended period of stay expires.

You do not need to apply for a visa with work rights to cover the transit period. Crew who have signed off a vessel and are only waiting to depart Australia are not considered to be working.

For information on which visa may be most relevant to your circumstance click here for more information.

If you apply for another visa while you are in Australia, you will in most cases be given a Bridging Visa that allows you to remain lawfully in Australia until your application is processed and decided, or until you depart Australia.

If you hold another visa, in addition to your MCV, please check the visa conditions and how long that visa lets you stay in Australia by using the online visa check tool here.

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