China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – Coronavirus Disease Update


The restriction concerning the residents, visitors and crew from Hubei or stayed in Hubei in last 14 days are prohibited to go on board all vessels have been lifted. Incoming visitors, and crew to be temperature screened before entering the city or port.

All passengers / crew should fill the Health Declaration form, both at the time of entry and departure in declaring their health situation. Symptoms of cough, fever or difficulty to breath must be reported to a customs officer then a mask must be used to avoid further spreading the virus. All passenger and crew entering China must provide recent travel history.

As per the recent port guidance, the Original Health Declaration form to be filled by all crew on board must be submitted before vessel’s departure. Due to the block of regular land transportation between cities, river port pilots (from Nanjing to Taicang within Yangtze River) will go onboard by using tug boat with higher charge incurred.

Shippers / receivers must arrange the required customs formalities for their cargo promptly. Due to the irregular working hours of customs, there may be delay in completion of formalities which will result with the delay in berthing. All offices in China were closed until 2400lt / 9th February 2020 as per Chinese Government announcement.

In the meantime, we recommend ship side as below and actual requirements may vary in different ports:

  • Masters are required to send their daily temperature list of all crew on board to agent 7 days before vessel’s arrival.
  • The updated temperature list must be submitted to the customs officer upon vessel arrival and before ship’s departure.
  • Crew will be quarantined and hospitalized if found to have symptoms of fever or cough or difficulty in breathing.
  • The shore pass will not be issued unless identified as necessary.
  • The issuance of boarding pass for shore side people to be onboard will be tightly restricted based on actual requirement.
  • Ship side is required to measure body temperature of all visitors and port officials on board and reserve the right to reject any individual with symptoms of fever or cough.
  • Crew change will be prohibited in most Chinese ports and you may check with prior vessel’s arrival.

China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid at the time of this announcement effective 0am, 28 March 2020.

South China Ports

Crew change formalities are suspended.

Beihai, Qinzhou

Crew change not suggested in these 2 ports as joiners arriving from other cities or countries may need to be segregated for 14 days and presently there are many flight / train cancellations.

Chiwan, Dongguan, Fangcheng, Guangzhou, Shekou, Xiamen, Yantian

Crew change allowed but Xiamen and Yantian have strict & complicated requirements. Guangzhou, Dongguan, Fangcheng are allowed but not suggested.


Crew change formalities have already been suspended by local customs due to coronavirus pneumonia till further notice.

Hong Kong

Restriction from Entering Hong Kong
The Hong Kong SAR Government restricts non-Hong Kong residents who have visited the Hubei Province in the past 14 days upon arrival from entering Hong Kong since January 27, 2020.

With effect from March 25, 2020 0001Hrs LT, and until further notice:

  • All non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas country and other regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong
  • Non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macau and Taiwan will be denied entry to Hong Kong if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days.
  • With effect from June 01, 2020 0001Hrs LT, all transit services (i.e. flight transfers at airside only) at Hong Kong International Airport will be resumed. To minimize any unforeseeable confusion/complications it is advised that through-tickets to be issued and baggage should be checked-in all the way from origin airport through to destination airport without re-check-in at Hong Kong International Airport.

Compulsory Quarantine
Starting from February 8, 2020, the Department of Health (DH) will issue quarantine orders to all people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland, including Hong Kong residents, Mainland residents and visitors from other places. People concerned must stay at designated places (quarantine centre, home or other accommodation) for a 14-day compulsory quarantine. Apart from the exempted persons under the “Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation”, people who have been to the Mainland in the past 14 days upon arrival at Hong Kong, even if they enter Hong Kong via other places, are also covered. They should not have any symptoms and should have passed temperature checks upon entry. Those with symptoms will be referred to the DH for further handling. Arrivals holding a visa with validity of less than 14 days will be denied entry.

With effect from March 25, 2020 0001Hrs LT, and until further notice: All travellers coming from Macau and Taiwan, including Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents, will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine, which is the same as the arrangements for people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland.

Cargo Ships calling to Hong Kong
Hong Kong port is normal at this moment. All port formalities for vessel arrival and departure are normal. The ports of call and rotation of the vessel will not be affected.

Vessels calling for cargo operations, bunker supply, replenishment, fresh water supply, spare parts/cargoes import and export services are all normal.

The Department of Health requires all crew members on board cargo vessel entering Hong Kong to arrange “medical surveillance” during their stay in Hong Kong (except crew individuals who visited Hubei Province, China in the past 14 days). “Medical surveillance” refer to the following:

  • Wear a surgical mask during work and if need to go out
  • Pay attention to your health condition, and take body temperature daily. If you feel unwell, please inform your agent or call Department of Health at 852-2125 1999 or 2125 1122.
  • Agree to be interviewed by Department of health regarding your health condition.

Crew Changes for Non Passenger Vessels
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) for passenger + cargo arrival and departure also in normal. HKIA now undergo additional body temperature checking for all passengers and passengers are advised to allow sufficient time for relevant procedure.

With effect from March 8, 2020, all inbound travelers via Hong Kong International Airport are required to submit health declaration form. To be environmentally friendly, travelers are encouraged to submit the form online ( or continue to submit the paper form which can be obtained on board their flight.

With effect from June 01, 2020 0001Hrs LT, all transit services (i.e. flight transfers at airside only) at Hong Kong International Airport will resume. To minimize any unforeseeable confusion/complications it is advised that through-tickets to be issued and baggage should be checked-in all the way from origin departure airport through to destination airport without re-check-in at Hong Kong International Airport.

With effect from June 8, 2020, crew change for non-passenger vessels is allowed, under different criteria:

1. For onsigners (i.e. those holding both valid seaman books and passports), joining vessel is arrangeable WITHOUT compulsory quarantine, subject to the following:

  • Hong Kong immigration normal visa control requirement
  • Onsigner(s) in possession of valid passport and seaman book
  • Onsigner(s) holding copy of our OKTB letter
  • NOT born/residing in Hubei or Hubei related.
  • Agree to self “medical surveillance” for 14 days
  • Onsigner(s) should not have any symptoms of being affected and passed temperature checks upon entry
  • COVID-19 Test Report is NOT compulsory
  • Onsigner(s) arriving should try their best to arrive Hong Kong when their vessels arrived and should get on board immediately upon arrival. If there is a need for them to stay at Hong Kong for a short period while awaiting to board vessel, they should be in self isolation at hotel accommodation until going onboard.
  • Subject to change without prior notice and eventual grant for entry purely on Immigration/Port Health discretion

2. For offsigner(s) under seaman status (i.e. those holding both valid seaman books and passports), only with vessels purpose of call for cargo operations, signing off is possible and arrangeable WITHOUT compulsory quarantine, subject to the following:

  • Offsigner(s) in possession of valid passport and seaman book.
  • Offsigner(s) holding return home country ticket. Immigration still requires offsigners to leave Hong Kong as early as possible or within a reasonably short period. For specific pro-longed stay with supporting reason, permission is on case by case consideration only, without guarantee.
  • The arrival vessel purpose of call is for “Cargo Operations”.
  • Offsigner(s) should NOT have been born/residing in Hubei or Hubei related or individuals who visited Hubei Province in past 14 days.
  • Offsigner(s) should take the most direct way between the vessel and HK airport, and avoid stop over at any other public locations.
  • Subject to change without prior notice and eventual grant for entry purely on Immigration/Marine Department/Port Health discretion.

3. For offsigner(s) under seaman status (i.e. those holding both valid seaman books and passports), with vessels purpose of call other than cargo operations and/or crew changes, signing off is possible and arrangeable WITHOUT compulsory Quarantine, subject to the following:

  • Vessel’s purpose of call solely for “Crew Change only” will be rejected.
  • Offsigner(s) in possession of valid passport and seaman book.
  • Offsigner(s) must hold IMMEDIATE return home country ticket. Tickets with long forward travelling dates may not be accepted.
  • NOT born/residing in Hubei or Hubei related.
  • Offsigner(s) are required to stay onboard the vessel during vessel’s stay in Hong Kong, and agree to travel directly to the airport for repatriation to their home country. No hotel accommodation is allowed nor staying at other location except the Hong Kong International airport. Bearing in mind that the current Airport security regulation is that only passengers with a valid air ticket or boarding pass for a flight in the next 24 hours and a valid travel document will be allowed to enter the airport terminal buildings.
  • Subject to change without prior notice and eventual grant for entry purely on Immigration/Marine Department/Port Health discretion

Please also bear in mind that there are occasions/issues that some airlines reject onsigning crew’s boarding (even with OKTB) on commercial discretion which is beyond our control and assistance.

Also, for some local services (e.g. transportation, hotel, medical, etc) will have consideration of acceptance of people travel from overseas (especially crew from Europe and US) and may have limited choice for our arrangements.

For Supernumerary arriving with vessels (except those born/resided in Hubei or Hubei related or had been to Hubei Province in past 14 days) to be subject to ‘medical surveillance’ on board during vessel stay in Hong Kong. Their signing off at Hong Kong will not be granted and require to sail with the vessel.

Passengers arriving with vessels (except those born/resided in Hubei or Hubei related or had been to Hubei Province in past 14 days, will be rejected) will require compulsory quarantine for 14 days on board and vessel will not be allowed to sail until 14 days compulsory quarantine period is completed.

As the situation changes from time to time, pls contact us at for updates in case of any enquiries or requirements.


According to Article 9 of the “Regulations Governing Quarantine at Ports”, the master should report all information. Article 9 states that inbound ships entering international port from other countries (boundaries) shall within 4 to 72 hours, report the following by their shipmaster to the quarantine authorities:

  1. Name of ship, call sign and voyage number;
  2. The last port of departure, date and time;
  3. Name of port anchored during the 30 days prior to arrival and the date of departure;
  4. Expected date and time of arrival;
  5. Types of Sanitary Control Certificate for ship, issued date and place;
  6. Number of crew and passengers;
  7. Any deaths or patients with communicable diseases on board within 30 days prior to arrival and their relevant information;
  8. Any deaths from unknown causes within 30 days prior to arrival;
  9. Any breeding of rats or vectors;
  10. Other relevant matters.

When sailing time of this voyage is less than 4 hours, upon approval of the quarantine authority, it may complete reporting prior to voyage. If death occurs or patients with communicable disease detected after reporting, it should immediately be reported to the relevant information to the quarantine authority such as the number of infections or deaths, their names, symptoms or causes of deaths. Upon reviewing of reports mentioned in the preceding first three paragraphs, if the quarantine authority decides that the ship in question is in no danger of transmitting communicable diseases, entry permit will be granted.

Before the pilot boards the ship, both the passage and bridge that the pilot may pass through should be Complete disinfection, maintain ventilation and strictly control the number of people on the bridge, all Crew members who may be in contact with pilots should wear masks and crew are unwell should be isolated to avoid contact with pilots.

Master should fill in the self-management form as a verification certificate for inspection (form attached).

Failure to implement the epidemic prevention actions in accordance with the above matters, Pilot may follow the Article 30 of Pilotage Law, refused to lead the vessel to avoid causing a breach of epidemic prevention in ports.

If the pilot has embarked on the vessel and found that the vessel has not implemented anti-epidemic actions in accordance with the mentioned regulations, the pilot will immediately leave. All cost such as, pilotage fee, pilot boat fee, tugs fee and etc., will be borne by shipowner.

Crew Changes

  • Crew Changes are NOT allowed, except Taiwan flagged vessels, foreign vessels belonging to Taiwan shipping Corporation, ship delivery conducted (excluding China flagged vessels) and in emergency situations or if special permit is issued.
  • Crew shore leave is NOT allowed. Crew are strictly not permitted to go to quayside and MUST remain onboard vessel at all times.
  • Visa-Exemption Entry have been suspended until further notice.
  • All persons entering Taiwan must undergo 14 days home quarantine. Subject to additional extension. Fine for breaking quarantine up to NTD1’000’000.
  • All personnel, including crew, must have their temperatures taken two times per day prior to arriving in Taiwan. All body temperature must be submitted to Quarantine prior arrival to Taiwan and whilst alongside in Taiwan port.

Port Restrictions

  • From 6th February 2020, cruise vessels are not permitted to enter Taiwan ports or anchorage until further notice.
  • Foreign flagged vessels under a work permit – All foreign flagged vessels entering to Taiwan from overseas are permitted to call a Taiwan port. Requirement for vessels to be quarantine for 30 days is lifted. But all crews must be quarantine on shore for 14 days before allowing the vessels and crews to proceed to jobsite (offshore)
  • All other port and cargo operations as per normal condition.

Port Closures & Delays
Port Closures: No
Expect Delays: No

Effective July 4:

Only offshore windfarm vessel shall be applied by developer with authority Bureau of Energy (BOE) for the final approval for crew changes. Only when vessels alongside, then signing on/off can be performed, all sign on/ off crewmember must undergo 14 days quarantine.

Crew Changes for Offshore Wind Farm Only

Taiwan authorities allow for crew change for personnel signing on / off a foreign flagged vessel as crew in Taiwan. Wind Farm Developers must submit the necessary documentation to Bureau of Energy (BOE). BOE will then review and accept/reject submission. If submission is accepted then BOE will issue a Certificate of business contract performance. This document is required for all crew changes. Our operations team can support clients with a quarantine plan (as required for issue of certificate). Please contact directly with for complete and detailed process.    

Travelers who have received permission to enter Taiwan, when checking in with the airline for the flight to Taiwan, must present an English-language certificate of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken within three days of boarding and they must also undergo a 14-day home quarantine upon entry into the country.


According to the XIAMEN NOTICE NO.8, every person entering Xiamen should register and declare their health conditions in advance using the “i XIAMEN” WeChat Subscription. All crew signing on at Xiamen port should implement the same and keep contact with the terminal as well as to cooperate the terminal with basic body and mask wearing checks.

Compulsory pilotage for transit Hong Kong Waters to/from YICT and Dapeng LNG Terminals

With effect on 1 January 2020, compulsory pilotage will be required for vessels (dry cargo/passenger vessels over 3000 GT, tankers over 1000 GT) transiting east of Hong Kong waters to and from the area of Yantian Container Terminals and Dapeng LNG Terminals. New pilot stations and channel have been established which is shown on the above map (B.A. Chart number: 4128)

More details are available at the links below.

Further information on transit arrangements, pilot guideline, requirements and calculation of costs will be advised as and when announced by parties concerned.

Ben Line Agencies Hong Kong office is pleased to attend and assist in arranging the transits whenever required. Please send an email to for further information and assistance.

Click to view the map

Hong Kong waives port & lights dues for 12 months

The Government of Hong Kong SAR announced a waiver on various fees and charges to support businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, during this challenging economic environment.

One of the measures is to waive port facilities and light dues payable for oceangoing vessels for 12 months. The concession period is from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020.

Announcement from Marine Department

Ben Line Agencies’ global partner – WaterFront carves new territory with Houston move

18 July 2019 – Global port agency business, WaterFront Maritime Services (WaterFront) has today opened a local agency office in Houston, Texas. The company, which is one of the world’s largest port agency networks, says its Houston office has been established to help charterers, owners, and operators to manage their risk in this strategically important high-volume location.

WaterFront’s Houston office is managed by newly appointed Director for North America Lars Westerberg, a port agency industry veteran who was formerly Regional Director Americas for Seven Seas and Managing Director of Wallem Americas. Prior to these roles, Westerberg also served as Regional Managing Director of Inchcape Shipping Services in North and Central America.

The team in WaterFront’s Houston office will attend vessels directly from Corpus Christi to Lake Charles, including all terminals and all facilities. The Houston office will also serve as the regional hub for WaterFront in North, South and Central America including the Caribbean and is linked to WaterFront’s existing regional hubs in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur to provide 24-hour coverage to its global client base.

Terry Gidlow, Chief Executive Officer of WaterFront, commented:

“On a global basis we see how significant political developments, evolving trade policies and rapid shifts in the supply and demand of raw materials and bulk commodities are impacting traditional trade patterns. Meaning our clients are faced with a whole new range of opportunities and challenges in executing their day to day business. With the opening of our Houston office we are able to bolster the presence we have in other major oil & gas import/export and refining centres such as the Middle East and in Asia.”

The WaterFront global network currently handles more than 45,000 port calls per year through a network of 483 offices in 93 countries worldwide. Unlike other global agencies, Waterfront focuses on providing port and husbandry services for vessels transporting coal, grains, iron ore, minor bulks as well as crude oil, clean and dirty products, chemicals and gas. The company also handles the husbandry requirements of 3rd party and in-house ship managers.

WaterFront’s Director for North America, Lars Westerberg, commented:

“By focusing on specific commodities, we can work with customers operating in this region to add quantifiable value to their businesses. Our work is all about understanding our clients business and their  specific needs and then using our local knowledge and relationships to assist them to mitigate their risk, turn their vessels and cargoes around faster and save them money, while maintaining the highest levels of  safety and compliance.”

Terry Gidlow, chief executive officer of WaterFront, added:

“Lars and his team in Houston bring to the table decades of local experience and relationships in ports and terminals throughout Texas. The Regional Hub function of the Houston office also serves to give our clients in North and South America better access to our Global network.

WaterFront was established by leading regional ship agency businesses Sharaf Shipping Agencies and Ben Line Agencies in 2016. WaterFront is headquartered in Dubai with commercial offices in China, Singapore, Dubai, Norway and the USA. WaterFront has strategic partnerships in the rest of North and South America with renowned local partners such as ACGI on the west Coast of the US and Canada, UNIMAR in Brazil and the Ultramar group in Spanish-speaking South America. For more information about the organisation, visit