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Working hours on board ships using EU ports

Working hours on board ships using EU ports


This Directive aims to protect the health and safety of seafarers on board ships using European Union (EU) ports, combat distortions of competition from shipowners of non-EU countries and protect the health and safety of seafarers on board ships using EU ports.


It aims to provide procedures to verify and enforce the compliance of ships calling at ports of EU countries with Directive 1999/63/EC (subsequently amended by Directive 2009/13/EC), which outlines working time rules for seafarers, including hours, rest, paid leave and fitness for work.


EU countries, through designated Port State Control inspectors, carry out inspections on board sea-going vessels calling at their ports, irrespective of the country in which they are registered. Fishing vessels are not covered by the Directive.

Inspections occur notably after a complaint is received by the master, a crew member, or any person or organisation with a legitimate interest in the safe operation of the ship, shipboard living and working conditions or the prevention of pollution.

Inspections determine whether:

a table with the shipboard working arrangements is posted in an easily accessible place.

records of hours of work and rest periods are kept on board, and are endorsed by the competent authority of the country where the ship is registered.

If it appears that seafarers may be unduly fatigued, a more detailed inspection is conducted to determine whether the recorded working hours conform with regulations, and whether they have been observed.

To rectify any conditions which are clearly hazardous to safety or health, the EU country may prohibit the ship from leaving the port until deficiencies have been rectified or the crew is rested.

If a ship is prevented from leaving the port, the master, owner, or an official of the flag country, country of registration or diplomatic representative will be informed of the decision, and of any corrective actions required.

If a ship is unduly delayed, the owner is entitled to compensation for any loss or damage suffered, the burden of proof being with the ship's owner, who also has the right of appeal against detention.


It came into force on 20 January 2000.

For further information see the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 on the International Labour Organization’s website.


Directive 1999/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 concerning the enforcement of provisions in respect of seafarers' hours of work on board ships calling at Community ports.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 1999/95/EC



OJ L 14, 20.1.2000, pp. 29-35


Council Directive 2009/13/EC of 16 February 2009 implementing the Agreement concluded by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, and amending Directive 1999/63/EC (OJ L 124, 20.5.2009, pp. 30-50).

last update 06.10.2015