Merchant Navy

UBT – Maritime Sectors unites officers, sailors, bosuns, shoreworkers and other seafarers who work in the merchant navy. At international level, the legal position of sailors is governed by the “MLC - Maritime Labour Convention”, which was ratified by Belgium in 2013. If you have any questions concerning your salary, employment contract, compensatory leave or tax, whether or not you are resident in Belgium, do not hesitate to contact UBT – Merchant Navy. You can rely on a high quality service and a wide range of information.

The UBT protects your interests

Anyone that works at sea also lives at sea. Sailors therefore lead a very special kind of life. For this reason, special regulations have been agreed, in order to protect them against the arbitrary actions of captains and shipowners, as well as unemployment, illness and accidents at work. But special regulations also exist for sailors, in order to protect them against the specific risks that they face, such as piracy, sailing in war zones, etc.

The UBT represents approx. 92% of seafarers employed on board ships flying the Belgian flag. The Belgian merchant navy is subject to sectoral agreements concluded by the Belgian Joint Committee for the Merchant Navy.

The following collective agreements currently apply:

  1. Working conditions and salaries for sailors who are not registered in the pool but are employed on board merchant ships flying the Belgian flag
  2. Work and pay conditions for captains and officers registered in the Belgian merchant navy pool
  3. Working conditions and salaries of sailors registered in the merchant navy pool who are employed on board short sea vessels
  4. Work and pay conditions when working in war zones
  5. Work and pay conditions when working in piracy zones



“Tideover allowance” service

UBT – Merchant Navy is also the organisation that pays tideover allowances to seafarers who find themselves employed between assignments. Do not hesitate to send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to find out more about the necessary procedure.

 Acclimatisation (getting used to life on board)

Students from the Antwerp Maritime Academy prepare for jobs on board seagoing vessels. After gaining their qualifications, they contact a shipowner or owner of a seagoing vessel, in order to offer their services. If they are able to convince the shipowner of their abilities and enthusiasm, they will be able to sign an employment contract with him. But, unlike office employees or shop floor workers, they will live and work on board a ship for several months at a time. So that students have an opportunity to “sample” life at sea and gain the necessary practical experience, they can spend time on board a ship during the holiday periods. This period of training is paid via the merchant navy pool and UBT – Merchant Navy provides a payment service.

“Tax” service

Sailors often spend months away at sea. This can create problems if they have to complete certain administrative formalities, such as their annual tax return. UBT – Merchant Navy will ensure that your tax return is submitted in good time, together with the necessary documents, or ask the relevant tax office for extra time. Do not hesitate to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.