Temporary amendment to the visa-issuing process at the external border (Schiphol) for seafarers signing on due to consular departments being closed down because of the COVID-19 measures

Various Dutch embassies have been forced to close for shorter or longer periods of time since the start of COVID-19.

Given this situation, the Visa on Arrival (VOA) system was introduced to ensure that seafarers are always able to obtain the visas they need to sign onto vessels in the Netherlands. As part of this system, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Kmar) issues visas to seafarers on arrival at Schiphol. Because most Dutch embassies have now reopened, this temporary procedure was amended with effect from 12 October 2020.

A seafarer will only be able to apply for a VOA at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol if he/she:

(1) has demonstrably been unable to obtain a visa in his/her country of origin due to the closure of Dutch embassies abroad (because of COVID-19) and he/she

(2) is going to sign on in the Netherlands.

To apply for a visa at Schiphol, when the relevant Dutch embassy has closed due to COVID-19, a seafarer will need to complete the forms below and then e-mail them to the Kmar (via Dutch.immigration@mindef.nl).

The information below must be forwarded to the Kmar no later than two weeks before the crew change.

- A copy of a valid national passport;

- A copy of a valid seaman's book;

- A completed sponsor declaration;

- An employment contract (employer's declaration);

- The ship's visit to the Netherlands and the crew change in the Netherlands must have been reported to the Maritime Single Window (MSW);

- Flight details, including the flight number and date/time of scheduled arrival at the very least;

- The name of the Dutch embassy or consular representation that would normally have handled the application but is now closed due to COVID-19;

- Any other relevant documents that could increase the chances of the visa application being approved.

The Kmar will check the application for completeness, issue an OK to Board and then forward the application to the Kmar Border Control Division at Schiphol. If an OK to Board is issued to a shipping company or shipping agent, the seafarer will be able to travel to the Netherlands, where he/she will be issued with a Visa on Arrival at the Dutch border crossing point - if approved by the Kmar.

The ultimate decision on whether or not to issue a visa and admit the seafarer in question will be made by the Kmar border control at Schiphol. The normal conditions to be met by anyone wishing to enter the Netherlands will continue to apply.

Seafarers will be expected to have the following with them for the purpose of the visa process at Schiphol:

- A valid travel document, or a document that entitles the holder to cross the border. This document must meet the following criteria:

Valid for a minimum of three months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Member States.

Issued in the last 10 years;

Has a minimum of two blank visa pages; 

- Enough money to pay the visa fees due:

- His/her valid seaman's book.

Since 12 October 2020, the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR) - which previously acted as an intermediary for shipping companies and shipping agents - has been removed from the application process. It is no longer necessary to reserve a time slot for the VOA either.