Seafarer FAQ

Who is a seafarer?

A ‘seafarer’ is any person aged 16+ employed/engaged/working in any capacity on board a sea-going ship, including those whose normal place of work is on a ship and includes a master of a ship, self-employed contractors and others if they meet the 5-point test below. It does not include those persons whose work is not part of the routine business of the ship and whose principal place of work is ashore, nor does it include those who are working on a seagoing ship on an occasional and short-term basis, for example, fitters, guest lecturers and entertainers, repair technicians, surveyors or port workers.

Please note that if your contract is ‘short-term’ e.g. 2 weeks on 2 weeks off but does this all year and you are working in a role that is an essential part of the routine business that the ship is involved in, you may well be a seafarer even though your contract is temporary and on a series of short-term bases.

Is ersg an employment business or an employment agency when placing seafarers?

At the time of writing, ersg only acts as an employment business when placing seafarers – that means, we only place seafarers on a temporary basis engaged directly by us or via an employed solution, to work for clients rather than placing seafarer candidates in permanent roles.

Job roles that are classed as a seafarer

  • Cadets

  • Captain

  • Master

  • Deck department

  • Deck officers

  • Chief mate

  • Second mate

  • Third mate

  • Deck cadet

  • Officer of the watch

  • Deck Ratings

    • A member of a ship’s crew other than a master or an officer.

      • Duties can include mooring, cleaning of the ship and its holds and repairing broken lines and ropes. These are physically challenging jobs and have to be done regardless of the weather, e.g.:

      • Boatswain/ Bosun

      • Able seafarer

      • Ordinary seaman

  • Engine department

  • Engineering officers

  • Operators

  • First engineer

  • Second engineer

  • Third engineer

  • Fourth engineer

  • Engine ratings / unlicensed

  • Motorman

  • Oiler

  • Wiper

  • Electro-technical department

  • Electro-technical officer

  • Steward's department

  • Chief steward

  • Ship’s cook

  • GMDSS Radio Operator

Job roles that are not classed as a seafarer

  • Persons whose work is

    • not part of the routine business of the ship or

    • persons whose principal place of work is ashore, e.g.:

      • Harbour pilots/ ROV pilot

      • Inspectors

      • Superintendents

      • Scientists researchers

      • Divers

      • Specialist offshore technicians

  • Persons who work on a seagoing ship on an occasional and short-term basis, e.g.:

    • Fitters

    • Guest lecturers

    • Entertainers

    • Repair technicians

    • Specialist offshore technicians

  • Privately contracted armed security personnel.

  • Persons working on mobile offshore drilling units, with some exceptions.

  • Persons working on vessels which are not self-propelled e.g. Vessel engaged in a positioning voyage under tow.

  • Persons on a journey to/from a refit/repair within the 60 miles safe haven limit as long as the crew undertake the round trip without any cargo or passengers and the journey is purely a domestic non-trade voyage.

Do I need qualifications to be a seafarer?

You will need qualifications but what they are will depend on what role you have and what is required by law, whether it be the Merchant Shipping (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Regulations 2022 or otherwise. If you are unsure, please ask us and we’ll help you find out.

What is a discharge book?

This is a document that is filled in by the shipowner once a seafarer completes a project/assignment on a vessel. It confirms their training/certificates and work experience. If this isn’t filled in, they should get a Certificate of Discharge to show the same thing.

You need one if you are:

  • a British seafarer, or

  • a British citizen working on a ship or large yacht, or

  • Not a British citizen but working on a UK-registered ship or large yacht.

What is a British seaman’s card?

This is a document that allows a British seafarer/ seaman to land (arrive) in a foreign port without needing a visa.

It is not a right to work document. If the British seafarer needs specific permission to work in a foreign country, they still need to have the correct right to work document in additional to the seaman’s card.

Only British citizens are eligible for a British seaman’s card.

Seafarer insurance

When we place seafarers on temporary contracts (both employed PAYE and self-employed) we have to have insurance in place so that we can pay for certain legal entitlements should a seafarer become entitled to that right (think sick pay, flying home if unwell, medical costs etc.).

We are covered by Crewsure for all of our seafarers.

Compliance with international seafarer law

ersg are compliant with the laws applicable in the countries from which we supply seafarers.

We are audited by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the UK and the equivalent in The Netherlands to show that we maintain compliance with domestic and international seafarer law, like the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.