Port and health

Due to the increase in international transport, infectious diseases can spread faster and more easily. This is why more attention is being paid to infectious diseases worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO), as a special division of the UN, is in charge of issuing international rules, monitoring and coordinating infectious diseases.

International Health Regulations

With the signing of the International Health Regulations (IHR) in 2005, the WHO member states emphasized that they would dedicate themselves to observing these international agreements in the field of fighting infectious diseases. The IHR contains rules with regards on how to report infectious diseases and how to complete the 'Maritime Declaration of Health'.

The Netherlands:
For more information on infectious diseases, please check the site of the
GGD Zeeland (Zeeland municipal health service)

For more information on infectious diseases, please check the site of the
Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid (care and health agency)


North Sea Port focuses on its core tasks. This means that we put our efforts in keeping our port and port activities operational. By default there are already strict procedures regarding infectious diseases in place for vessels wanting to enter North Sea Port. In addition and in consultation with the national health services GGD (for the Netherlands) and Saniport (for Belgium), the following agreements have been made:

  • As usual, the vessel has to fill in the Maritime Declaration of Health. This procedure is closely coordinated with the health services (GGD and Saniport).
  • The Maritime Declaration of Health has to be filled in 24 hours prior to entering the port.
  • From the moment that only one question is answered with ‘yes’ on this form, the health service is directly included.
  • (River) Cruise passengers in North Sea Port Ghent remain on board.

North Sea Port herewith follows the advice issued by both the Dutch and the Belgian authorities.

  • For more information about the Coronavirus in the Netherlands, you can call
  • For more information about the Coronavirus in Belgium, you can call 

Maritime Declaration of Health

All incoming ships must submit a Maritime Declaration of Health 24 hours before calling at port, in which the ship's master must declare whether there is any illness or suspected illness on board. This Maritime Declaration of Health has to be complete an has to be available on board of the ship. This information must also be entered in ENIGMA+.

On this form, the following questions have to be answered:

  • Date of validity of the Ship Sanitation Exemption / Control Certificate.
  • Number of passengers and crew members.

Moreover, the following 9 questions will be asked:

  • Has any person died on board during the voyage otherwise than as a result of accident?
  • Is there on board or has there been during the international voyage any case of disease which you suspect to be of an infectious nature?
  • Has the number of ill passengers during the voyage been greater than normal/expected?
  • Is there any ill person on board now?
  • Was a medical practitioner consulted?
  • Are you aware of any condition on board which may lead to infection or spread of disease?
  • Has any sanitary measure (e.g. quarantine, isolation, disinfection or decontamination) been applied on board?
  • Have any stowaways been found on board?
  • Is there a sick animal or pet on board?

The Netherlands

The Master of a seagoing vessel informs the port authority and the pilot service as soon as possible if there is an infectious disease on board that can constitute a serious danger to public health.

The shipping agent fills in the Maritime Declaration of Health, whatever the circumstances. In case one of the questions is answered with “yes” the shipping agent has to send this form via ENIGMA+. The application will then forward the message to the GGD Zeeland and the Common Nautical Authority.


For each ship that calls at a Belgian port, 24 hours prior to arrival the Maritime Declaration of Health has to be completed by the shipping agent in ENIGMA+ and sent on to the application of the FOD Volksgezondheid (federal public health service). In case of a health risk, this application will notify the officer on duty of Saniport Zeehavens (saniport seaports) and a doctor of the Cel Medische Bewaking (medical guard cell) will be consulted. They will then take the necessary measures in cooperation with the MRCC (Maritiem Reddings-en Coördinatiecentrum= maritime rescue and coordination centre) and inform all nautical partners including the the Port Commander’s Department. All consequential steps will be coordinated by Saniport.

IMO model of Maritime Declaration of Health.

Radio Medisch Advies (radio medical advice)

If necessary, aboard a ship anywhere in the world, medical advice can be obtained from the Radio Medische Dienst (RMD= radio medical service) of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij (KNRM= royal Dutch rescue company). The doctors can be called 24/7 via the Nederlandse Kustwacht (Dutch coast guard).

The Nederlandse Kustwacht can be reached by telephone for Radio Medical Advice via the telephone number +31 (0)223 54 25 00. The RMD can be reached 24/7; however, nonacute situations will be handled between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. UTC.

Click here for more information including contact possibilities via maritime telephone and Inmarsat.