Members are regularly involved in offshore projects in German territorial waters. Whereas previously non-European crewmembers could be employed on the basis of a normal Schengen visa, a recent decision by the Supreme court of Germany limits the ability of non-European crewmembers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to work on board of vessels operating in offshore projects within German territorial waters.
The decision states that non-European crewmembers may only work on vessels employed to work in offshore projects in German waters if they have a Schengen Visa type D (travel, work and residence). This visa must be applied for separately and the waiting time can be up to several months. Where it was previously sufficient to have a so-called “Van der Velst” visa (a European visa for employees who have been working in the EEA for more than 12 months), an additional visa must now be obtained. The effect of this decision is that if a vessel is working in such a project, it is necessary that all crewmembers have a visa type D or come from the EEA. As obtaining these visas can take months, we advise Members to submit the necessary applications well in advance.
We advise our Members to pay attention to local laws and regulations regarding work permits when entering into offshore projects, also taking into account national differences, including within the EEA.