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Migration and Home Affairs

search and rescue (SAR) operation


  • In the global context: operation to render assistance to persons in distress at sea regardless of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which that person is found in accordance with the applicable Maritime Law and Conventions.
  • In the EU context: operation of EU Member States to render assistance to any vessel or person in distress at sea regardless of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which that person is found in accordance with international law and respect for fundamental rights.



  • BG: операция за търсене и спасяване
  • CS: pátrací a záchranná operace
  • DE: Such- und Rettungseinsatz
  • EL: επιχείρηση έρευνας και διάσωσης
  • EN: search and rescue (SAR) operation
  • ES: Operación de búsqueda y captura
  • ET: otsingu- ja päästeoperatsioon
  • FI: meripelastusoperaatio /etsintä-ja pelastustoimet
  • FR: opération de recherche et de sauvetage
  • GA: Oibríocht cuardaigh agus tarrthála
  • HU: kutatási és mentési művelet
  • IT: operazione di ricerca e soccorso
  • LT: paieškos ir gelbėjimo operacija
  • LV: meklēšanas un glābšanas operācija
  • MT: Operazzjoni ta’ tiftix u salvataġġ
  • NL: opsporings- en reddingsoperatie
  • PT: operação de busca e salvamento
  • RO: operațiune de căutare și de salvare
  • SK: pátracia a záchranná operácia / pátracia a záchranná činnosť
  • SL: operacija iskanja in reševanja
  • SV: sök- och räddningsinsats
  • NO: Lete og redningsoperasjon
  • KA: საძიებო-სამაშველო (SAR) ოპერაცია
  • UK: пошуково-рятувальна операція (SAR)


  • SAR operation


1. SAR services inside the Convention are defined as: 'The performance of distress monitoring, communication, co-ordination and search and rescue functions, including provision of medical advice, initial medical assistance, or medical evacuation, through the use of public and private resources including co-operating aircraft, vessels and other crafts and installations'.
2. Civil society-led Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) engaged in SAR operations have published voluntary minimum standards intended to:
- ensure that their actions are conducted in support of the fundamental right to life with dignity, the right to receive humanitarian assistance in protection of life and the right to personal protection and security for all persons in distress at sea based on legal requirements of established international maritime law;
- enhance joint co-ordination and co-operation of SAR operations in the Mediterranean region with as many stakeholders as possible, including established Rescue Coordination Centres, European institutions, Agencies, shipping and fishing associations and military forces (for further information see: Voluntary Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue operations undertaken by civil society NGOs in the Mediterranean Sea, First Edition, February 2017).
3. For further information on relevant legal provisions and on practical procedures to ensure the prompt disembarkation of survivors of rescue operations see International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Rescue at sea: a guide to principles and practice as applied to migrants and refugees.