The Seafarers’ Emergency Fund is a fund managed by ISWAN to provide immediate, essential aid to seafarers and their close families, who are directly involved in sudden and unforeseen crises.

Criteria for applications

Organisations applying on behalf of individual seafarers are able to apply for grants for the following:

  • Immediate hardship needs for a seafarer such as food / emergency accommodation up to a maximum of 5 nights
  • Emergency medical expenses for a seafarer or their spouse / partner or children
  • Repatriation (only in exceptional cases where all other possibilities have been exhausted)

What is NOT eligible:

  • The SEF cannot be used for long-term maintenance, to fund a private enterprise, as a social security replacement nor for situations for which other sources of relief are available
  • Applications from seafarers who (at the time the emergency arose) had not been employed as a seafarer in the previous 12 months
  • Long-term or ongoing health issues / permanent disability / palliative care / health issues with limited chance of recovery
  • Further requests to the fund from the same individual seafarer until 12 months has elapsed

Minimum grant size

SEF grants can be applied for a minimum of USD250 per application.

Maximum grant size

SEF grants are up to a maximum of USD5,000 per application.

How to apply

  • Individuals cannot apply directly to the fund, they must apply through a recognised and legitimate seafarers’ welfare organisation that provides direct services to seafarers
  • Applications are made online by visiting (see box below)
  • Welfare organisations applying on behalf of a seafarer must purchase goods and/or services for the seafarer rather than handing over cash (except in emergency circumstances such as immediate medical need where the fund will consider a retrospective contribution to already incurred costs)
  • All SEF funds are to be spent / paid by the applying organisation directly to the service provider for the purposes
  • The applying organisation must confirm it is reasonably certain that alternative funding is not readily available locally or from other legally responsible parties such as ship owners, employment agencies, flag states or similar resources
  • Applying organisations must pass on the full value of the grant to the benefit of the seafarer
  • The applying organisation is required to submit a simple report confirming what the grant has been spent on and (if required) to provide receipts

Applying organisations should apply online on behalf of a seafarer or their family:

Apply here


ISWAN will make available facilities for the translation of applications in languages other than English.

ISWAN will circulate the application to the SEF grant-making panel who will decide whether or not to make a grant. ISWAN and the SEF grant-making panel will ensure that a decision is taken as quickly as possible and the applying organisation should be informed of the decision within 72 hours of the receipt of all the required information. The decision of the panel is final.

When a grant is agreed the applying organisation will be asked for their bank details and to confirm their acceptance of the grant terms. When the bank details and confirmation are received the funds will be transferred to the applying organisation as soon as possible, however international banking requirements can sometimes cause a delay.

In situations where there is a reasonable opportunity to recoup the amount of a grant from some other legally responsible party, such as ship owners, employment agencies, flag states or similar resources, then the Applying Organisation will use its best efforts to recoup such funds, either through its own facilities or through the facilities of a similar organisation that may be better suited to the task, including ISWAN. Any funds so recouped shall be returned to ISWAN and credited back to the SEF.

If you require further information or need to discuss an application please contact us at or call +44 (0)300 012 4279.

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We are grateful to our main funders for their continued support: