June 2023: Access to shore leave

This update reminds owners, operators and masters of ships calling at New Zealand ports of the importance of shore leave for seafarers.

This safety update is for:

  • Owners, operators, and masters of foreign-flagged (non-New Zealand) ships
  • Shipping agents
  • Maritime New Zealand (Maritime NZ) Port State Control Maritime Officers and Investigators


Shore leave reminder

The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) provides that, ‘Seafarers shall be granted shore leave to benefit their health and well-being and consistent with the operational requirements of their positions.’

Shore leave and access to shore-based welfare centres are essential for seafarers’ mental, physical, and emotional health, and help to reduce the risk of fatigue.

Shore leave is permitted in New Zealand.


What you should do

Maritime NZ expects owners, operators, and masters to allow shore leave for seafarers in line with the requirements of the MLC. You should consider the benefits to seafarers’ health and well-being when deciding whether to allow shore leave. Decisions about shore leave should not be based on financial implications.

If you are concerned about the risk of COVID-19, there are measures you can take to allow controlled shore leave while reducing the risk of transmission or crew becoming unwell, for example, by:

  • limiting the number of seafarers allowed out at a time
  • requiring seafarers on shore leave to stay away from crowded or poorly ventilated places.

The Seafarers Welfare Board for New Zealand has seafarer welfare centres at ports across the country and can help you to assess options for controlled shore leave. For a list of centres and contact details, see:

Maritime NZ Port State Control Officers may inspect your vessel to make sure you are complying with international conventions. They may take enforcement action if they determine that you have not complied with the requirements for seafarer shore leave set out in the MLC.


More information

Information about confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand:

COVID-19 and International Labour Standards:

International Chamber of Shipping, COVID-19 Seafarer Shore Leave Principles:


Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about this safety update, please contact our Wellington office.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522


Tell us what you need help with and remember to include your contact details (email address and phone numbers).


If you are a seafarer and feel that you have been denied the right to shore leave, please report this to us here:

Make an MLC complaint