Free pratique

Argentina is bound without reservation by the International Sanitary Regulations of the World Health Organization. In accordance with Decree 1527/01 and its ruling Disposition DNSyF 02/02 the Free Pratique Certificate can be obtained and a fee is charged for this according to the vessel’s tonnage. 
These same charges are applicable for the renewal of an expired De-ratting Certificate. Vessels take pratique in port, and may enter and berth if they fulfill the following conditions:
a) Clean port of sailing and ports of call.
b) No persons with infectious or contagious diseases or with fever on board.
c) No cases during the voyage of diseases of international concern, or of infectious diseases of an epidemic nature.
To be able to obtain this privilege of taking pratique in port, it is essential that Masters of all vessels arriving from abroad advise their Agents not less than 72 hours prior to arrival, that the vessel under their command is in the sanitary conditions required by art. 45 of the Regulations, to enter port and go alongside. The message may be sent either in English or Spanish, and specimen texts in both languages are given herewith:
In Spanish:
Solicitamos pedir libre plática telegráfica buque ..........(1).......... procedente de ..........(2).......... con escalas en ..........(3).......... con ..........(4).......... tripulantes ..........(5).......... pasajeros para Buenos Aires (or other port) ..........(6).......... pasajeros en tránsito punto de claro no tener a bordo personas afectadas por ninguna enfermedad pestilencial punto estado sanitario bueno.
Capitán ..........(7)..........
or in English:
Please request free pratique mv ..........(1).......... proceeding from ..........(2).......... with calls at ..........(3).......... with ..........(4).......... crew ..........(5).......... passengers for Buenos Aires (or other port) ..........(6).......... passengers in transit stop hereby declare that nobody on board affected by any pestilential disease stop sanitary condition good.
Master ..........(7)..........
In each case, the blanks must be filled in as follows:
1. Name of vessel and flag.
2. Port of commencement of voyage.
3. Full details of all ports of call.
4. Number of crew.
5. Number of passengers for Buenos Aires (or whatever port first entered).
6. Number of passengers in transit.
7. Full name of Master, and also of doctor, if there is one on board.
As there have been cases of insufficient information being received from vessels, and ‘added in’ by Agents in the translation, the authorities have established this standard form which Masters should follow in their messages, and which will accompany the request to the Port Health Authorities. This facility refers to all Argentine ports. The message requesting free pratique must be sent to the vessel’s Agent at first port of call, after which free pratique is automatic in all subsequent Argentine ports. If, however, a non Argentine port is called at en route, free pratique must again be requested at what will then become the ‘first Argentine port’.
The Port Health officer, together with other officials will board on arrival for a routine inspection and the granting of Free Pratique. All vessels, without exception, must fly the “Q” flag on entry and until Free Pratique has been granted (fine for non compliance u$s 5000). The Doctors’ visit does not normally delay the commencement of cargo operations. It is important to note that the regulations regarding cholera must be fully complied with (see Cholera).
Vessels lightening
Tankers and other ships lightening in River Plate waters, provided they comply with art. 45 should request free pratique in the usual manner and after lightening are allowed to continue their voyage to the port of destination to complete formalities at Zona Común or alongside.
Ships loading grain at anchor in the River Plate
Vessels entering the River Plate to load grain directly from transshipment vessels at Alpha Zone can be authorized to work by obtaining free pratique via Agents from the health Authorities via Agents at Buenos Aires. Should port health inspectors have to be sent out, then the cost is for ship’s account.
Medicine chest
The Port Health doctor may check the expiration dates of medicines and the quantities of drugs on board if this is considered necessary.
Not required
W.H.O. does not recommend vaccination, as the epidemic is transmitted through contaminated water and foodstuffs which should be taken in a hygienic condition; packed, cooked, boiled, etc. Infected areas are:
- Africa: Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia.
- America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
- Asia: Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Vietnam, Yemen.
- Europe: Ukraine.
Argentine sanitary control regulations governing ships for the purpose of preventing cholera have been established by Resolution # 1333 of December 1st 1992, issued by Ministry of Public Health and Social Action, which is transcribed herewith:


1. All ships regardless of their previous ports of call.
   1.1. Are forbidden to discharge sewage within 12 miles of the sea coast and/or in rivers.
   1.2. Must have a purifying plant or an excrement storage tank. The discharge valves shall be sealed upon entering Argentine waters.
   1.3. Ships having no sewage treatment systems must introduce sterilizing chemical products into the storage tanks. Should compliance with these measures be verified and it is required to drain this sewage, this may be carried out with the authorization of the Health Authority.
   1.4. If the above requirements for sewage treatment are not complied with or if the tanks need to be emptied, the Agent responsible for the ship shall take measures to transfer the sewage to vehicles, vessels or storage facilities on land or afloat, authorized to that end, so that the treatment, transfer and/or ultimate discharge can be properly controlled.
   1.5. The elimination of normal residues shall be made through a system permitting their disintegration and sterilization, without such operation producing any pollution.

2. Ships that in the last 180 (one hundred and eighty) days have not called at ports of infected countries may make use of telegraphic free pratique, according to the established procedures.

3. Those ships that although proceeding from non-infected areas have on board persons coming from said areas that joined within the last 30 (thirty) days, shall enter port flying a “Q” flag and these persons shall be subject upon arrival to medical examination.

4. Ships that within 180 (one hundred and eighty) days have called at ports that at the time of their stay were considered by the WHO or the Panamerican Health Bureau (PHB) as affected by outbreaks or epidemics of cholera, or where the disease is considered endemic, shall not obtain telegraphic free pratique.
   4.1. Ships shall keep all garbage hermetically sealed to be discharged when and where the Health Authority so determines it.
   4.2. Ships must have a sufficient stock of medicines, such as: doxyline, tetracycline, sulfanilamide, saline solution, glucose intravenous solution and salt tablets.
   4.3. Ships shall immediately communicate any suspected cholera cases or symptoms, such as: fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea.
   4.4. Masters shall send to the Health Authority, 72 (seventy two) hours before arrival if by sea, and 24 (twenty four) hours before arrival if by inland waterway, a communication with the following data:
     a) Name of ship.
     b) Flag.
     c) Number of crewmembers.
     d) Kind of cargo and/or ballast. Total quantity of ballast water, bilge water, etc.
     e) Last exact date of mooring in ports of infected countries.
     f) Ports of call during the last 180 (one hundred and eighty) days.
     g) Information on whether for any reason any crew member requires medical attention.
     h) Statement of the chlorination of the ballast water, bilge water, etc., should this have been carried out.
     i) Statement of number and location of valve seals for ballast water, bilges, etc. (see item 1 on sewage).

   4.5. The ship's Agent shall submit to the Health Authority this information in Spanish, signed by a company representative and bearing the company's stamp which must be duly registered with the Department of Health for the Control of Frontiers and Transport Terminals, an original and three copies, of which one stamped and signed copy shall be handed to CONTRASE Argentine Coast Guard, for their respective records. When such information is not submitted, ships proceeding by sea from infected countries shall be stopped on arrival at Recalada or at the Roads of the Argentine ports on the Atlantic Seaboard.
   4.6. and 4.7. (These are basically a repetition of item 4.5)
   4.8. Once the requirements called for are complied with, the ship will be allowed to enter port flying the “Q” flag. Once in port, the Master shall proceed to ratify or complete the telegraphic declaration, which will be considered as a sworn statement, putting on record whether or not the ship will need to pump out liquids.
   4.9. While the sanitary emergency lasts, the pertinent authority or whoever the latter appoints will verify the seals are in position as declared and that the proportion of residual chlorine in the treated liquids is as declared by the Master or otherwise arrange for the incorporation of chlorine in untreated or insufficiently treated liquids and the placing of seals as considered necessary. Free pratique will be granted at the end of the Port Health inspection.
   4.10. In those cases where the pumping out of liquids is necessary, authorization must be requested from the Health Authority or whoever the latter should appoint, who will determine the requirements to be met in order to carry out this operation.

5. The treatment of liquids shall be carried out under the Shipping Company's responsibility, ensuring that the treatment must provide a residual effect of not less than 1.5 ppm of chlorine.

6. The registered representatives of the Shipping Company, Owners, Agents and Masters shall be responsible for complying with these regulations.

7. In those ports where there is no available personnel to carry out the above mentioned inspections the Health Authority will appoint an officer from the nearest Health Unit and will in case of need resort to provincial and/or municipal Health Authorities, Argentine Coast Guard, National Frontier Police or Armed Forces.

8. The duties of the Port Health Authority will be carried out from 07:00 to 19:00 from Monday to Friday, and applications for inspections or cancellations will be received until 17:00 hours on these days.

9. Transportation, lodging and food expenses, including the overtime required by tasks outside the established timetables, shall be for the account of whoever requests these services according to conditions established elsewhere by the Ministry of Health.


1. Sodium Chloride-Sodium Hipochlorite.
   1.1. Characteristics. It is an irritant, toxic and alkaline substance. Physiologically, from a respiratory point of view, chlorine is a powerful irritant, and is perceptible even in concentrations very inferior to those which are directly harmful. Small concentration in closed places cause nausea and coughing. Sprinkling of this substance about the eyes is dangerous because it causes moistburns. Nurses or first aid helpers must never administer morphine or any other medicine containing chlorine to chlorine intoxicated persons.
   1.2. Differences between liquid chlorine and granulated chlorine. Liquid chlorine is most commonly used since it is easier to handle and less dangerous; its use in tanks causes no inconveniences and is effective 2 or 3 hours after application. Granulated chlorine is easily transported, but its use is not advisable due to the danger involved, as in many cases it has caused deterioration and explosion in piping Moreover, granulated chlorine requires a contact time of approximately 24 hours for complete dilution and total effect, but nevertheless leaves sediment.
   1.3. Safety standards. According to the Regulation for toxins and their handling, Law 19.587/72 and Regulatory Decree 351/79 state that personnel working with sodium hypochlorite must be equipped with the following basic and essential elements when in contact with this product:
     a) Suitable gloves.
     b) Adequate clothes.
     c) “3 M” type masks (disposable).
     d) Protecting glasses.

Personnel working with sodium hypochlorite must be familiar with the handling of toxic products.

2. Action-Concentration-Dose-Analysis-Neutralizers.
   2.1. Action. The product, if applied in correct doses, begins to act or has already acted after 30 minutes (the definite process for eliminating bacteria is estimated to last 2 or 3 hours).
   2.2. Concentration. 10% active grade (100 grams of chlorine in one liter of water). This is the maximum concentration existing in the market and is known as pure chlorine.
   2.3. Dose. This will depend on the degree of contamination of the water to be treated, the kind of water (fresh or sea water, ballast or bilge water, for drinking or service, etc.).
   2.4. Analysis. In well-founded cases, the Health Authority may make an analysis from several samples, without delaying the ship.
   2.5. Neutralizers. Due to the residual values that may be produced and if measurement is impossible, the use of chlorine neutralizers is recommended.

3. Chlorinating technique.
   3.1. Dose. 1.5 PPM (parts per million per ton of water), equivalent to 15 PPM of Sodium Hypochlorite at 100% (=150 cc per ton of water). With 10% active material, hypochlorite in its liquid form is 20% heavier than water. Masters and Agencies are advised that ballast tanks when full must be slackened off to be chlorinated, as this operation is made more difficult if the tank is pressed up.
   3.2. Chlorination of drinking waters. According to nationally approved standards the current recommendation is that the residue be of between 0.4/0.6 ppm sodium hypochlorite. In the event drinking water does not contain chlorine 50 cc must be added for every 10,000 liters (equal 0.5 ppm).

4. Regulations for chlorinating aboard ship.
Registered representatives of Shipping Companies and/or Shipping Agencies and/or Shipowners must undertake the responsibility of complying with this regulation, as well as jointly assuming responsibility for the Master's sworn declaration. They must declare if the chlorination of the ballast water, bilges, etc. has been carried out, and can in no way neglect this responsibility. If chlorination is carried out by ship's personnel, by third parties appointed by them or by companies authorized to that end, it will not be possible for them to measure the degree of chlorination due to the fact that ballast water in general does not lend itself to measurement by conventional chlorinometers and the only possibility of control is the chemical analysis. Such chlorination therefore will not be acknowledged, unless the Health Inspector verifies, upon the ship's arrival, the existence of chlorine, its percentage, the date it was prepared and the quantity according to the tons of ballast water. Chlorine utilized should not be older than 30 days taken from the time of production and it is recommended that empty cans bearing the original label are kept on board for Health inspector's verification during inward clearance.

5. Sealing of overboard discharge valves.
When a ship enters Argentine jurisdictional waters, the ballast water overside discharge valves shall be sealed. The seals shall be placed by the ship's personnel and the Health Inspector will be informed of the number and quantity of seals that have been placed. The Inspector upon his arrival, shall check that these seals are in place.

6. Chlorination by third parties.
To effect a proper control, a statement giving the amount of Sodium Chloride or Sodium used must be drawn up and a copy given to the port Health Authority. The firm carrying out the chlorination must also draw up a certificate giving details of the waters treated, tank identification and quantities stored in each tank.

Waste on board and eventual disposal requisites
The Resolution 895/2002 issued by SENASA (National Agriculture and Foodstuff Health Agency) within the National Plan for Plagues and Diseases Prevention establishes periodical or and/or permanent inspections aboard arriving ships with the purpose of controlling the Sanitary condition of vessels’ foodstuff, stored or disposable waste liquids and solids including organic garbage and may amongst its faculties allow, order and/or prohibit the discharge of same according to the registered information concerning nature, procedure and antiquity of the wastes. For the aforementioned purpose vessels must submit via agents no less than 72 hours prior arrival the related information contained in the Annex 1 Form of the said Resolution. 
The cost of the inspection is entirely for account of the Owners. So far these inspections have been gradually implemented as from the beginning of 2005 at all River Paraná ports and Buenos Aires. The measure is foreseen to be applicable at all Argentine ports in the near future, however, budget provision as well as the incorporation of skilled personnel to cover all areas has still not been finalized.