The World Health Organization (WHO) determined that the outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic on 11 March 2020. IMO has published a number of press briefings on key issues related to the pandemic, including crew changes, repatriation of seafarers and meetings postponements : click here for the full list of press briefings. IMO has also established an internal team to help seafarers faced with a variety of difficult situations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to find out more about the work achieved by the Organization to support seafarers around the globe.  IMO Secretary-General statements

Advice for IMO Member States, seafarers and shipping IMO has issued the following circular letters: 


  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.19 (2 June 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance for flag States regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.18 (26 May 2020) - Joint Statement IMO-ICAO-ILO on designation of seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, offshore energy sector personnel, aviation personnel, air cargo supply chain personnel and service provider personnel at airports and ports as key workers, and on facilitation of crew changes in ports and airports in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.17 (21 May 2020)  - Coronavirus (COVID 19) – Preparing for post COVID-19 operations: considerations and practicalities for port community systems, single window and other electronic exchange platforms

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.16 (6 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) – COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.15 (6 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) - Personal protective equipment

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 (5 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.13 (5 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommendations for Governments and relevant national authorities on facilitating the movement of offshore energy sector personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.12/Rev.1 (29 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) – Declaration by Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) members in view of the global COVID-19 situation

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.11 (24 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID 19) - EC Guidelines on protection of health, repatriation and travel arrangements for seafarers, passengers and other persons on board ships

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.10 (22 April 2020) - Joint Statement IMO-WHO-ILO on medical certificates of seafarers, ship sanitation certificates and medical care of seafarers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic 

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.9 (16 April 2020) - Joint Statement IMO-WCO on the integrity of the global supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.8 (14 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Video meeting with port State control (PSC) regimes (includes joint statement and statements and/or relevant temporary guidance issued by the United States, the Acuerdo de Viña del Mar and the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Paris and Tokyo MOUs

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.7 (3 April 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance concerning unforeseen delays in the delivery of ships

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.6 (27 March 2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Preliminary list of recommendations for Governments and relevant national authorities on the facilitation of maritime trade during the COVID-19 pandemic 

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.5/Rev.1 (2 April 2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance relating to the certification of seafarers and fishing vessel personnel

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4/Rev.1 (28 May 2020) contains ICS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.3 (2 March 2020) - Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak on board ships

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.2 (21 February 2020) contains the Joint Statement IMO-WHO on the Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak and encourages Member States and international organizations to disseminate it as widely as possible. Available in the six official languages of the United Nations system. 

  • Arabic Chinese ​English ​French Russian​ ​Spanish

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.1  (19 February 2020) provides advice on Implementation and enforcement of relevant IMO instruments

  • Circular Letter No.4203.Add.1 (12 February 2020) provides information and guidance on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks to delegates

  • Circular Letter No.4204 (31 January 2020) providing information and guidance, based on recommendations developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships from the coronavirus. 

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