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Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Freelancer and seafarer are two different concepts and professions. Here are some key differences:


A freelancer is an individual who works independently for different clients or

companies. They provide services in their expertise, such as programming, writing, design, marketing, etc. Freelancers work from their homes or anywhere with internet access.

On the other hand, a seafarer is a person who works on maritime vessels. Seafarers are responsible for the management and maintenance of ships, transportation of goods and passengers. Seafarers spend extended periods of time at seas and oceans and live on board. They are responsible for various tasks, including ship management and maintenance, cargo and passenger transportation, safety control, navigation, mechanical tasks, and many others.

Seafarers can work on different types of vessels, including merchant ships, passenger ships, tankers, container ships, fishing boats, yachts, etc. The maritime industry also offers a wide range of occupations, including captains, officers, engineers, mechanics, electricians, helmsmen, sailors, cooks, waiters, and others.

The life of a seafarer is usually connected to working on the ship during a certain

period of time, which can vary from a few weeks to several months. During the working period, seafarers live on the ship and perform their tasks in shifts or as needed.

It is important to note that there are international standards and conventions that regulate the working conditions and rights of seafarers, including the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention). These standards aim to ensure the safety of seafarers and environmental protection.

Working hours and location:

Freelancers have more flexibility regarding working hours and location. They can work according to their own schedule and choose where they work, whether it's their home, a café, or any other place. On the other hand, seafarers

have structured work schedules and usually spend a certain number of months on the ship, away from home and family.


Freelancers usually charge for their services based on projects or hourly rates. They negotiate the price and terms with their clients. On the other hand, seafarers receive payment based on their employment contract and the amount of time they spend on the ship. Seafarers are provided with food and accommodation on the ship based on the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, issued by an International Labor organisation, Republic of Serbia is a signatory of this ILO Convention.

These are just some of the basic differences between freelancers and seafarers... Employment status: Freelancers are usually self-employed and can work for multiple clients and companies simultaneously. They can be registered as individuals or open their own companies. Seafarers, on the other hand, have to work for companies that have ships involved in maritime operations.

Professional education: Freelancers can engage in various jobs and provide different services. They may have different levels of education or expertise in their field, but specific certificates or licenses are not necessarily required. On the other hand, seafarers need to undergo specific training and have appropriate professional titles, certificates, and licenses according to international maritime standards. These certificates and licenses cover areas such as maritime safety and security, navigation, meteorology, stability and cargo handling, medicine, first aid, mechanics, electronics, electrical systems, etc.

In summary, freelancers and seafarers are two different professions with different working conditions, working hours, location, payment methods, and education requirements. Freelancers have more flexibility and the ability to work from home, while seafarers spend extended periods of time on ships and at seas and oceans.

Therefore, by doing so, it is impossible to classify sailors as freelancers and tax them in the same way.

It is important to note that relevant ministries are familiar with the issue of taxing

sailors. The Ministry of Finance, as well as the Ministry of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure, are aware of the proposal for resolving the status of seafarers of the Republic of Serbia, drafted by the Seaman's Association of the Republic of Serbia. This proposal is based on the Water Traffic Development Strategy 2015-2025, adopted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia during the current president's, Mr. Aleksandar Vučić, term.

In particular, we would like to address the strategy in section 6.3.3., where strategic goals and measures are clearly stated: 'Exempting seafarers who spend more than 174 days in international navigation from income tax obligation.'

Currently, seafarers in no country in the world suffer from such misunderstanding, incompetence, and torment by the relevant institutions. We have addressed all competent institutions, including the ombudsman, but unfortunately, we have only received ignorance.

This letter will be sent to relevant international organisations in order to seek help and find a solution to this significant problem. Additionally, the Seaman's Association of the Republic of Serbia will organise peaceful protests in front of the Ministry of Finance and the Government to protect the rights of seafarers in Serbia. The date and time of the protests will be announced later.

In Belgrade, 04.07.2023.

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