Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

Which are the ships that need to comply with the MLC?

The MLC applies to all Singapore-registered (MLCS) ships ordinarily engaged in commercial activities. MLCS ships of 500 gross tonnage and above which are engaged in international voyages shall attain a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) and a Maritime Labour Certificate.

MLCS ships below 500 gross tonnage are required to comply with the MLC but are not required to be certified. Such ships may attain MLC certification at the shipowner’s request.

Where may I obtain a copy of the DMLC and Maritime Labour Certificate?

The DMLC consists of two parts. The DMLC Part I is to be prepared and issued by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and contains the national requirements and applicable exemptions.

The DMLC Part II is to be prepared by the shipowner and contains the measures to ensure compliance with DMLC Part I.

A Maritime Labour Certificate shall be issued to a ship after the Recognised Organisation (RO) has verified, via inspection, that the ship (including the DMLC Part II) is in compliance with national (DMLC Part I) and applicable MLC requirements. The MPA has authorised 9 ROs to conduct the inspections and to issue the Maritime Labour Certificate, on behalf of MPA.

For details on the DMLC and Maritime Labour Certificate, please refer to MPA Shipping Circular No. 7 of 2014, which is readily available on the MPA website.

Does the MLC 2006 apply to harbour crafts operating within harbour? How will it apply?

For a ship that is flagged with the Singapore Registry (MLCS) and also licensed as Harbour Craft to operate within Singapore Port Limits, such a ship is required to comply with the MLC (as with the Merchant Shipping Act, STCW'95 Convention,etc.)

Would there be any changes to the Employment Act and Merchant Shipping Act in view of the MLC 2006? What will the changes be?

Singapore’s national legislation on the MLC can be found in the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) Act and Regulations.

Minimum Age

What kind of work is considered hazardous for seafarers under the age of 18 years old?

Hazardous work means any of the following:

  • lifting, moving or carrying of heavy loads or objects;
  • entry into boilers, tanks and cofferdams;
  • exposure to harmful noise and vibration levels;
  • operating hoisting and other power machines and tools, or acting as signalers to operators of such equipment;
  • handling mooring or tow lines or ground tackle;
  • rigging;
  • work aloft or on deck in heavy weather;
  • servicing of electrical equipment;
  • exposure to potentially harmful materials or harmful physical agents such as dangerous or toxic substances and ionizing radiations;
  • the cleaning of catering machinery; and
  • the handling or taking charge of ship’s boats, and any other work which is likely to jeopardize a person’s health or safety that is specified by the MPA in writing as hazardous work.

Medical Certification

How does a shipowner know if a medical certificate is in line with the one prescribed by the MPA? How does a shipowner know if a medical practitioner is recognised by the MPA?

Under the MLC, the MPA will accept valid medical fitness certificate issued by the following:

  • a medical practitioner recognised by a MLC State Party and familiar with guidelines for conducting pre-sea and periodical medical fitness examinations for seafarers published by IMO, ILO or WHO; or
  • a medical practitioner recognised by a STCW State Party on the “STCW White List”; or
  • registered medical practitioners licensed to practice in Singapore and familiar with guidelines for conducting pre-sea and periodical medical fitness examinations for seafarers published by IMO, ILO or WHO.

MPA may be approached on any queries or for advice regarding medical certificates or medical practitioners.

Qualifications of Seafarers

Does MPA recognize training programs approved by other national administrations and shipping-related organization?

For MLC-related training and certification, MPA will recognize training programmes approved by national administrations which are party to the MLC. Training programmes approved by national administrations not party to the MLC are subject to consideration by MPA. Training programmes by shipping-related organizations are to be submitted to MPA for consideration.

Would the MLC affect existing seafarer qualifications?

All seafarers working on board any ship shall be trained or certified as competent or otherwise qualified to perform their duties. Also, all seafarers working on board any ship shall successfully complete trainings for personal safety on board ship. Training and certification in accordance with the mandatory instruments adopted by the International Maritime Organization, including the STCW Convention, is considered as meeting the above requirements.

Use of any licensed or certified or regulated private recruitment and placement service

Under what circumstances must a person or company apply for the Employment Agency (EA) licence from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Certificate of Authorisation (COA) from MPA?

All seafarer recruitment and placement services which are operated in, or provided from, Singapore for both Singapore-registered or foreign-flagged ships must obtain either an EA licence from MOM or a COA from MPA, or both.

There are several scenarios in which a person or company must apply for the EA licence and/or the COA.

The details can be found in the MPA Shipping Circular No. 16 of 2012, which is readily available on the MPA website.

If a seafarer recruitment and placement service is based in or operated overseas, must it apply for a Certificate of Authorisation (COA)? Can it apply for a COA even if it is not required?

Seafarer recruitment and placement services operated in, or provided from Singapore are required to apply for a COA, in accordance with requirements of the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Seafarer Recruitment and Placement Services) Regulations. MPA does not issue the COA to foreign-based companies.

For foreign manning agents, how can they comply with the MLC?

For foreign manning agents based in a MLC party State, it must comply with the requirements set by that State. For foreign manning agents based in non-MLC party States, it is the shipowner’s responsibility to ensure that the manning agent, conforms with the requirements of the MLC 2006. The shipowner may engage any of the 9 Recognised Organisations or his own company’s internal audit mechanism to audit the manning agent.

Hours of Rest

Is it necessary to ensure that meal breaks for a seafarer do not take place during the scheduled rest hours?

Shipowners/masters should ensure arrangements are in place on board such that meal times are not included as rest hours. E.g. Watchkeepers may be relieved by their colleagues so as to have their meals.

Accommodation and On-board Recreational Facilities

For accommodation and on-board recreational facilities, will there be additional requirements for ships built before the MLC comes into force?

Ships constructed before the MLC entered into force on 20 Aug 2013 shall comply with the Merchant Shipping (Crew Accommodation) Regulations, where applicable.

Food and Catering

What is the definition of water and food quality?

The provision of food and drinking water shall be of appropriate quality, nutritional value, quantity and variety. The provision of food and drinking water shall also take into account the number of seafarers on board, their religious requirements and cultural practices as they pertain to food, and the duration and nature of the ship’s voyage. Shipowners, operators and masters are encouraged to refer to the lastest version of the WHO Guide to Ship Sanitation (currently the 3rd Edition) for further information and detailed guidance for food, water and catering.

Payment of Wages

Are shipowners allowed to pay a seafarer wages in cash, at the request of the seafarer?

The seafarer and the shipowner are free to agree on the method of payment of wages, so long as the requirements under the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Wages) Regulations are complied with.


For further queries regarding the Maritime Labour Convention, please contact the Seafarers Management Department at or Tel: 63756224.