Press Release

Premier's Office
Medical Services
Release Date:
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 - 12:00pm

The British Virgin Islands as a Category 1 jurisdiction for ship registration, is now offering the United Kingdom Seafarers Medical Fitness Certificate for persons working aboard vessels.

Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said, “This is an important accomplishment for our maritime industry”.

Premier Smith added, “We are steadily moving forward in ensuring that the Territory is compliant with international maritime laws and, with purposeful resolve, we are making our maritime industry even stronger, more vibrant and safe for all stakeholders.”

Dr. Paula Trotman-Hastings of Peebles Hospital has been approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to examine candidates and issue the United Kingdom Seafarers Medical Fitness Certificate beginning Monday, March 14.

According to Acting Director of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, Captain Raman Bala, “This is an internationally accepted seafarers’ medical certificate and there are only a handful of doctors approved world-wide to conduct this examination. It is indeed a proud moment for the Territory as a Category One ship registration jurisdiction.” 

The Territory joins the state of Florida, in the United States of America and Trinidad and Tobago in having medical facilities offering this certification. The Acting Director noted that the Territory is moving in the right direction in order to attract ship owners to set up management companies, and be proactive in providing services and capacity building for the maritime industry.  

Captain Bala explained that it is essential to have a seafarers medical certificate to work at sea, whether in charge of a ship or serving on a merchant ship or yacht. International maritime regulations require seafarers to be certified and to be deemed medically fit by a doctor trained and approved for this purpose.  The certificate is valid for two years.

He stated, “Sailors have to be out at sea working for weeks before they are able to go ashore. In some cases, ports visited are very isolated from medical facilities. It is therefore essential that the seafarers are in their peak of health prior to boarding a ship, and are able to maintain good health on board.”

Captain Bala added that owners are also very interested to ensure that medically fit persons are taken on board their vessels so that the treatment and return of seafarers for medical reasons would be minimal.  

BVI maritime partner and SVITZER Americas Regional Operations Manager Mr. Albert Snoei applauded the efforts saying, “Svitzer and the VISR are working closely together in achieving the highest standards in the marine industry. We are very pleased to see that the VISR is proving to be an active partner by organising the required systems and services.”

Mr. Snoei added that the recent cooperation with Peebles Hospital in making the internationally recognised ENG1 Seafarers Medical Fitness Certificate available in Tortola is another example of their proactive approach, which will greatly benefit the BVI mariners and the company’s local staff.

The foundation for this medical certificate is based in Section 8 (1) of the Merchant Shipping Act (Maritime Labour Convention) Regulations 2013, that states “as part of the minimum requirements for seafarers, their recruitment and placement, no person shall be employed in any capacity on any Virgin Islands ship unless there has been delivered to the master of the ship a certificate granted by a duly qualified medical practitioner certifying that the person is medically fit to be employed in that capacity.”

The Government of the Virgin Islands is committed to creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ valued added investment experience. Accomplishing such an initiative in maritime administration is another step in safeguarding the economic future of the Territory. In this regard, the Government is ensuring that the BVI continues to build and be well-positioned to meet the ever changing needs and demands of the global and local market across industries.