Amendments to laws important for the Lithuanian shipping industry adopted

On 6 January 2023, the President of the Republic of Lithuania signed the amendments to the Laws on Safe and Merchant Shipping, initiated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, aimed at increasing the number of Lithuanian-flagged ships, enhancing the competitiveness of the country’s maritime sector and creating new jobs in maritime shipping. At the same time, it paves the way for the registration of the country’s first liquefied natural gas terminal storage vessel (FSRU) “Independence” in the Lithuanian Maritime Ships’ Register. Bolded amendments will be in force from 1 May 2023 onwards:

1.The crew of the vessel must consist of at least one quarter ( p.s. former requirement was to keep at least 50 % ) of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, other Member States of the European Union, or other States of the European Economic Area and the Swiss Confederation (hereinafter referred to as the Member State) and other natural persons who exercise the rights of movement in the Member States granted to them by the legislation of the European Union. This requirement does not apply if the ship is covered by a national, territorial, sectoral, or employer-level collective agreement.

2. When a state of emergency is declared in all or part of the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, during state of emergency, employment contracts may not be concluded with seafarers who are nationals of the State whose actions have led to the introduction of a state of emergency in the Republic of Lithuania, with the exception of persons who hold a document granting or confirming the right of residence in the Republic of Lithuania.

3. Only nationals of States which are members of at least one of the following unions, agreements, or organizations: the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Agreement on the European Economic Area, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, shall be eligible to hold captain position.

In order to encourage collective bargaining and thus agree to more attractive working conditions for seafarers, there is also the possibility to waive the crew quota if there is a collective agreement. In order to enable the proper and uninterrupted operation of the LNG terminal, an infrastructure of major importance for national security, it is allowed the company of the maritime safety management system to establish not only in Lithuania but also in the EU, the EEA Member States, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.

In addition, in order to facilitate the financing conditions for the acquisition of seagoing vessels and to encourage the registration of seagoing vessels in the Lithuanian Register of Seagoing Ships, seagoing vessels, with the exception of the FSRU, will be treated as movable property.