The most important points of Immigration Law # 817 and its regulatory Decrees, with which all Masters should be familiar are given below:
Should be drawn up as from the last port of call to ensure there are no discrepancies. They must be made out in 7 copies and must include all members of the crew and ship’s company. The latter refers to family members of the crew who must show as passengers on a passenger list and if so required by current legislation have their passports duly visaed. Should these persons not hold required visas, a fine will be levied. On arrival, the crew lists are presented to the Immigration Official who returns one sealed and signed copy to the Master as poof at other Argentine ports of call that the regulations have been complied with.
All members of the crew of vessels arriving or leaving Argentine ports and figuring on the crew list, must possess documents proving their identity and employment, such as a seaman’s discharge book, certificate of competency, passport or other document legally valid in the country of origin.
All foreign crew members must be in possession of an Argentine (seaman’s) identity card (specimen in this section) on arrival at an Argentine port. Masters of foreign vessels must prepare one set of identity cards complete with photograph and thumb print of each member of the crew, unless they already have one. These cards (ficha de identidad) must be presented to be stamped and signed by the Immigration official who attends on board on arrival. Control of crew members on arrival and departure:
a) On arrival Argentine identity cards must be prepared for all crew members who do not already possess them.
b) All crew identity cards are then checked against an official crew list by the Immigration Officer attending on board and are stamped with the date of arrival and returned to the Master.
c) On sailing the identity cards are collected, compared with the same crew list and stamped with the date of sailing.
d) The Master is thereafter presented with the above mentioned crew list in the form of sworn declaration, which he signs, thereby agreeing that the details of the crew list and the identity cards coincide and are correct.
The card remains in possession of the individual who, once identified, may return to the country without the necessity of obtaining a new card. Masters may, if necessary, have the identity cards completed with photographs taken at the first Argentine port of arrival, or at Montevideo if the vessel calls there first. In such cases, Agents should be advised in advance so that preparations can be made prior to the vessel’s arrival.
The authorities do not allow members of the crew to land until they are in possession of an identity card. It is to be noted that as per recent regulations, cruise vessels are exempted from issuing crew landing cards. Crewmembers going ashore should carry a copy of the stamped crew list sheet wherein their names are shown.
Only required against yellow fever.
Paying off crew members
Crew members, with the intervention of the Immigration Dept. may be paid off at Argentine ports due to sickness or for repatriation but for no other reason whatsoever (unless they are, of course, Argentine nationals with the necessary documents to prove this). In these cases it is permissible, with Customs intervention and approval, to land the crew members’ duly declared personal effects so that they may leave the country with them.
Deserters or crew members that miss their ship on sailing are the direct responsibility of the Master and the Ship’s Agent (acting on behalf of the Shipowner). They are held responsible for such crew member’s repatriation and all expenses incurred, including any fines that may be levied. Proof of the seaman having left the country must be obtained from the Authorities on departure. Requests for the transfer of foreign members of the crew of foreign vessels made to the Immigration Department are subject to the following conditions:
a) They will only be allowed when both vessels are in port and the date of departure of the vessel on which the member of the crew leaves, must be given.
b) When both vessels are consigned to the same Agent, and are berthed in the port of Buenos Aires, the Agent has to indicate where they are berthed, so that the departure of the seaman may be verified.
c) When the vessels are consigned to different Agents and both are in the port of Buenos Aires, the request for transfer must be the same as under paragraph (b), signed by both Agents, with the express agreement of the Agent of the vessel to which the seaman is being transferred.
d) When a member of the crew does not leave the country by the vessel to which he has been transferred, he will be considered a deserter.
It is important that any transfers of crew from one vessel to another, whether or not of the same Owners, should be duly notified to the authorities, and their departure certified by an Immigration official. Otherwise, the Agents of the vessel from which the crew member was transferred is subject to an official inquiry drawn up by the Immigration Department and subsequent fine, depending on the circumstances of the case and on what evidence can be produced of the man’s departure from the country.
Engagement of crew in Argentine ports
When members of crews who are Argentine citizens are engaged in Argentine ports for employment on foreign vessels, with a round voyage contract, they must be in possession of a valid passport.
Engagement of foreigners as crew members
Foreign seamen cannot join ships in Argentine ports, unless their identity document has been expressly endorsed to such effect by the Immigration Department.
Crew members arriving from abroad
Seaman arriving from abroad to join a ship in Argentina are required to travel with a visa stating they are travelling for the sole purpose of joining a ship as a crew member.
Such a crew member may also travel on a tourist visa and the ship’s Agent can arrange to have the seaman’s status changed from tourist to crew member with the Immigration Dept. Should the seaman travel without a visa there is a very real probability that he will not be allowed entry since visas as mentioned above are not granted at the airport. Exceptionally, joining crew members without visas have been allowed into the country when local Agents have petitioned the Immigration Dept to that effect but success in such cases is by no means guaranteed. In this latter case a penalty fee of U$S 300, a consular fee of U$S 30 plus the ordinary embarkation tax are due. Immigrations embarking/disembarking fee for crew members is U$S 10.
Foreign vessels embarking/disembarking foreign crew members
The Immigration Department attends to the work of embarking or disembarking foreign crew members of vessels under third flags. At the ports where, due to its location and/or importance, no Immigration delegate is available, the matter is attended to by the Coastguard of the port, to whom Agents must address requests for such movements of crew members. (Res. 1692/81).
Responsibility of agents for crew members disembarked
The Agents giving entrance to a vessel are responsible for attending to such matters as crew falling ill, missing ship, etc., and for putting up bonds or paying fines when these are required by law. In such cases even if the vessel transfers Agencies while in Argentine waters, the Agent who reported the incident to the Immigration Authorities in the first place continues to be responsible until the matter is closed. Should the shipowner appoint his own agent then this Agent will attend to these matters.
Men in hospital
The Ships Agent must advise the Immigration Dept when any crew member is landed into hospital sick and is to be paid off. On being discharged from hospital as fit to travel, the Agent must inform Immigration of this fact and arrange for his repatriation without delay (should death occur Immigration must be advised immediately).
It should be carefully noted that the Ships Agent remains entirely responsible for the crew member throughout and is liable to the corresponding sanctions if he fails to leave the country. Confirmation of departure must be obtained from Immigration when the crew member leaves the country.
Men left on shore
If any crew member is missing on sailing, the Immigration Dept must be advised. Missing members of the crew who put in an appearance remain in the care of the Agent who is responsible for their immediate repatriation. The police will arrest any deserters or crew members landing illegally. Owners or Agents are held responsible for such persons and are obliged to arrange re-embarkation or repatriation and to pay all costs.
Disembarkation of crew’s luggage
Members of the crew are not allowed to land, free of duty, any goods, other than their own personal effects, and in a quantity that does not give rise to suspicion that they are intended for sale. The seaman’s luggage must be disembarked in the presence of a Customs officer and any items such as electrical goods are required to have been previously shown on the crew’s Personal Effects List.
Masters and/or Agents can have serious troubles because of crew smuggling. The vessel is held responsible for any fine, and in due course after the vessel has sailed, the Agent will have to pay the fine on behalf of the owner. If goods not allowed to be exported are smuggled on board and the infringement is discovered, the ship is held responsible for the fines, which are usually equal to the value of the goods. When members of the crew are arrested on shore with smuggled goods on their person, they are liable to the penalties for this class of offense but the Master is not held responsible, although the Agents must attend to the repatriation of the offenders, after their case has come before the Courts. The penalty for smuggling is imprisonment, and only when the smuggled goods do not exceed $ 500 in value, may imprisonment be replaced by a fine of up to ten times the value of the goods involved.