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Old 14-07-2010, 09:18   #16
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Originally Posted by bvimatelot
I dont know about the legality of private individuals (ie the skipper of the boat you are crewing on) holding [your passport]...
I suspect that in this case it would not be a matter of criminal law, but more a matter of private contract. That is, in exchange for hiring you as a crew member, you must agree to let the captain hold your passport until you arrive wherever. You don't want to agree? Then you don't get hired.

I think it is probably illegal most anywhere to "steal" someone's passport--that is, take it against their will, without legal authority, and refuse to return it. But telling a potential crew member, "if you want to be on this crew then you have to give me your passport and let me hold it while we are in transit" is not even CLOSE to being the same thing.
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Old 14-07-2010, 12:00   #17
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Only because governments have become rather touchy about people entering their country and not being able to support themselves or to bring a positive economic contribution to the country - that the problem of pick-up or planned "crew" has come to the foreground. The master of the vessel has always been legally responsible for the crew and ensuring that those brought into the country leave on the same vessel again.
- - You have two different scenarios involved. First the pick-up boat hitch-hiker just wanting a "ride" to the next island/country; and secondly, the actual working crew member who is there to assist you in the operation of the vessel.
- - The "hitch-hiker" was not a real problem in the "old days" but in the modern world of security concerns and tight public support revenues, most countries have mandated that anybody entering must demonstrate or document their ability to "pay for themselves" and "afford to leave again." Like land hitch-hikers over the years have become a potential if not sometimes fatal problem, boat hitch-hikers are now entering that realm. Ensuring that they have financial assets to comply with the laws of the next country is quite difficult and the only "real" evidence is a valid pre-paid airline ticket out and either a large pocket full of money or credit cards.
- - To protect you as the master of the vessel responsible for them, you have two choices - one is upon entry to the next country normally everybody has to appear at immigration and get stamped "in." At this time you get them officially removed from the boat papers - or - number 2, you maintain possession of their passports for the duration of the planned stop. And be prepared to bail them out of jail if it comes to that.
- - For real crew who will be traveling with you, unless you really know and trust them you again retain possession of their passports until you check-out for the subsequent country. If they are not willing to abide by that, then you remove them from your boat papers and bid them farewell. Free choice, always.
- - As others have said in the initial processing of the "crew" member(s) prior to departure, you include questions and get references demonstrating their ability to financially handle their repatriation.
- - I have almost never heard of real "crew" causing problems. It is the hitch-hikers that are dangerous to your wallet and departure timetables. Being a nice guy/gal these days is getting more and more difficult.
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Old 14-07-2010, 17:10   #18
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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
- - To protect you as the master of the vessel responsible for them, you have two choices - one is upon entry to the next country normally everybody has to appear at immigration and get stamped "in." At this time you get them officially removed from the boat papers - or - number 2, you maintain possession of their passports for the duration of the planned stop. And be prepared to bail them out of jail if it comes to that.
Good advice Orissail but skippers must also be prepared for Immigration to say that the signed-off crew can no longer remain and will need to be repatriated.

Remember their actual resident country could be much further away in plane costs than where they joined the yacht.

Better to get that possibility clarified with them before you clear out of a country with unknown crew and have them demonstrate that they can and will fly themselves home if the new Immigration make that judgment… (For whatever reason you may not be aware of)
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Old 14-07-2010, 18:03   #19
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Crew turnover can be tough and your flag may add more complications and requirements but generally:

- The Captain is ultimately responsible for the discharge and repatriation of crew.
- Every Captain I know takes the crew members passport as security that they won't jump ship. Maritime Law seems to confirm that and I know of very few crew who have objected - and they've been canned on the spot.
- In most cases, the Captain is responsible for returning the crew member to either their home country or point of hire. If your crew's B1/B2/visa has run out, it can get _very_ expensive.
- With crew off the manifest and soon to be off the boat, your responsibility as Captain isn't over. It ends when your former crew member is either legally admitted to their current country or is on a plane/boat out. If your crew's B1/B2/visa's expired for the country you're sending them to, they won't be admitted and you're on the dime for another ticket.
- We all inform Customs and Immigration of the discharge of a crew member. This is so that we won't get fined, imprisoned, or have the vessel impounded. I have had Immigration over for coffee as I finalized the paperwork on a particularly nasty crew discharge. The Immigration Officer impounded the passport and personally escorted the crew member to the airport.
- We buy them a one-way ticket, refundable, to their destination. No cash for the bus or train as there's no record of your purchase. If they bail or "miss" the flight/boat then we can recover the cost of the ticket - after informing Immigration and Police that our former crew member missed the way out.
- We pay them off in cash as that's what they demand.

When we consider bring on new crew:
- we tell them they _will_ surrender their passport to the Captain, which we lock in a safe place
- we have them fill out a simple crew agreement indicating their signing on port and the stipulation that if things don't work out, that's where they're going
- we check the passport very carefully making sure it won't expire during the passage, that all visa's are current for the destination, stops along the way, and their hiring port. If they're not then you have the option of doing the leg and paperwork to get them legal. You will not make friends if a crew member is discharged in a country where s/he has no visa. There are exceptions but that's on a case by case basis. In some cases, captains have had to keep the disgruntled crew member onboard until they reach a port where they can be legally discharged.
- we photocopy the passport and any visas they may have, just in case. There have been reports of crew skipping out of the airport and later being nabbed by Immigration. That will not sit well with them and you may find yourself in deep trouble if you innocently return.
- we log the crew member discharge in the log book (another reason to keep a legal one) and have the sign off witnessed by another crew member

In 90% of the situations, the departing crew went smoothly and agreeably. It's the other 10% that keeps you up at night. It's your right to ask to see photocopies of passport pages and visa's to make sure that won't be a problem and make sure the crew member understands what'll happen should things go bad, or the trip end pleasantly.

Things happen and most Port Captains and Immigration folk are understanding and can be a very good source of assistance should you be forced into a port where some of your crew can't go ashore. They can be a great asset or your worst nightmare.
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Old 14-07-2010, 21:07   #20
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In our small way we travel internationally to Malaysia and Indonesia. There are two manifests. Crew and passengers. I suspect there is a difference. I am usually the only crew member. Everyone else is a passenger. We don't have a boat that has a minimum crew list so why code anyone but the Skipper as crew?

We have had passengers decide to return by ferry and have simply crossed their name off the passenger list. Never had an issue. Never had to show that the passenger did in fact get on a ferry, plane, bus etc. In one case I crewed the boat to Malaysia and went home by ferry. A friend crewed the boat to Indonesia and then back to Singapore, with the original passengers. So changing the Skipper and crew is also possible.

I am sure every country is different - however when traveling by air, the airline has to ensure the passenger is legal to arrive - i.e. has a visa and onward ticket if required. If not the airline is responsible to take them back. However once the immigration official has cleared the passenger in the airline has discharged its duty. The airline is no longer responsible for that passenger.

In regards to passports? I collect all the passports clearing out of Singapore - We clear at sea and generally present all the passports to immigration at the port of entry - this is usually for convenience and the fact that in some places immigration requests only the skipper due to crowding. We have done it differently, where everyone lines up at the immigration counter carrying their own passports and chops in just like an airport. It depends on the port we clear in at. Once arrived at a destination I have never withheld anyone's passport. If they want to disappear into the jungle that's their business.


I can't believe that many of the complexities being discussed here are in fact that complex.
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Old 14-07-2010, 21:23   #21
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Hi Dan

I wish that were true, but often in Asia they tend to give yachties a free pass perhaps because it takes too long to educate we hardship posting types, who are used to colonial rule. Lol…

The rules being discussed are real as are the penalties and I would imagine they are starting to be a bit stricter.

So it is good to be aware of the liabilities…cheers!
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Old 14-07-2010, 21:31   #22
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Pelagic - I hear what you are saying and I have used "professional" services to do my paperwork.

This is not impossible nor is it very difficult in the countries of SEA. I doubt the yachties are getting a "by" from anyone.

Millions of passengers per year arrive in a country on one form of transportation and leave on another. Once cleared into port the carriers duty is discharged.

That's why I made the distinction of crew vs. passengers. Crew is a different matter.

We did have an issue with a passenger who required a visa to Malaysia, had one but had a limitation of "Arrival By Air Only". The passenger was denied entry. I was advised I had to take the passenger back to Singapore, immediately. It was around 4PM at this point and would have meant arriving Singapore at night after immigration hours. I negotiated an 8AM departure.

That was a break for sure.
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Old 14-07-2010, 21:42   #23
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Interesting your preference of Passenger over Crew since “passenger” carries a whole different legal connotation, which contradicts the term pleasure vessel.

Well if it works…don’t knock it
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