International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Maritime Knowledge Centre



This document  covers the period up to 2008 and is no longer updated as the information is available elsewhere on the website. Information on latest amendments is available on the
Legal pages.   This document is not an official IMO Publication. For legal purposes, only the authentic texts and certified copies of Conventions and amendments should be used.
Whilst every effort was made to provide accurate information, IMO cannot take responsibility for any errors.











The International Maritime Organization (IMO) or its Secretary-General acts as depository for a number of multilateral international instruments. This document contains a compilation of the following data: title, date of adoption, date of entry into force, language of authentic texts and citation of sources where the texts can be found including IMO current and superseded publications, IMO electronic publications, IMO documents issued for meetings and conferences, circular letters, notes verbales and procès-verbaux of rectification and non IMO sources such as legal journals and national official journals. In certain cases this information is not currently available to the Maritime Knowledge Centre.

It should be noted that only authentic text and certified copies of IMO instruments should be used for legal purposes.
The process of adoption, entry into force, signature, ratification, acceptance, tacit acceptance, approval, accession, enforcement and amendment is described on the website in the Legal section.

Further information on depositing multilateral treaties, participating in multilateral treaties and key events in a multilateral treaty is also available on the United Nations website - Office of Legal Affairs Treaty Section

Depository status:
Unless otherwise stated IMO is depository and the place of adoption is London.

London Convention:
This document also contains information relating to the London Convention (Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972, as amended) for which IMO performs secretariat duties and depository functions in respect of amendments to it. The depository functions of the parent Convention are assigned to the Government of Mexico, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America. Information on the London Convention is available on the London Convention website.

Other Conventions:
SOLAS 1948: although IMO was not in existence at the time, references on the precursor of SOLAS 1960 have been included here for information
For the sake of completeness the Convention establishing the International Maritime Organisation adopted in March 1948 and deposited with the United Nations is also included.
The document also contains information relating to the International COSPAS-SARSAT Programme Agreement, for which IMO is joint depository with ICAO.

The Secretariat for the International Convention on Arrest of Ships (Arrest, 1999) and for the International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages is held jointly with the UN.

Status of IMO conventions:
The current status of signatories, contracting states (date of signature or deposit of instrument, date of entry into force or succession), declarations, reservations and statements, number of contracting states etc is available from the Legal and External Affairs Division at IMO, in the following annual compilation:

"Status of Multilateral Conventions and Instruments in respect of which the International Maritime Organisation or its Secretary-General performs depository or other functions, as at 31 December 2007. London, IMO."

The following are also available on the website:

-         Status of Conventions- a summary

-         Status of IMO Conventions - Depositary Information on IMO Conventions

-         Latest Ratifications

-         Conventions in development

-         Amendment Procedure

-         Status of Conventions by country

-         Action Dates (Entry into force dates)

-         List of Conventions

-         Abbreviations of Conventions


Comprehensive Index of Valid Technical Guidelines and Recommendations (1998 edition), sales number: IMO-148E, ISBN 92-801-1291-0
Index of IMO Resolutions (1995 edition with updates to 2000) sales numbers: IMO126E sales numbers: IMO-126E, IMO-127F (out of print), ISBN 92-801-1323-2


IMO publications are cited first, followed by IMO documents, notes verbales, then IMO electronic publications and last, other sources.

Some of the IMO treaties and amendments appear in Official Journals. A useful Directory of Links to Official Journals can be found at:
Government Gazettes Online hosted by the University of Michigan

IMO Publications:
Currently available publications as listed in the Publications catalogue. Items not listed in the catalogue are either out of print or have never been in print. Out of print publications are included as they may still be available in some libraries. In many cases sales numbers were changed if the publication was reprinted and, where possible, the old sales number has also been given. The publication date for language versions may vary from the date of the English version. Title and cover page may sometimes differ. The title used in this document is as appears in the title page of the publication.

IMO Electronic publications are also cited.
Please check the Publications Catalogue for the latest published material(s).

IMO Documents:
This refers to documents issued for meetings and conferences, circular letters and resolutions.

IMO Assembly Resolutions:
They are cited as follows: Resolution A.740(18) indicates that this is the 740th Resolution passed by the Assembly since its first meeting and (18) indicates that it was adopted at the Eighteenth session. A. 56(ES.IV) refers to the 156 th Resolution adopted at the Fourth Extraordinary Session of the Assembly. Assembly Resolutions are available in English and French from the first session (1959), in Russian and Spanish from the third session (1963), in Chinese from the eleventh session (1983) and in Arabic from the fourteenth session (1985). They are also available in book form and are published every two years after the meeting of the Assembly in a compendium which can be purchased from the Publications Section: Resolutions and Other Decisions – Assembly XYZ Session, date. ISSN: 0534-624X.

A full list of Assembly Resolutions is available on the Index of IMO Resolutions on the website.

Committee's Resolutions:
Are available in English, French and Spanish in document form only.
Some amendments are adopted by both the Marine Environment Protection Committee and the Maritime Safety Committee, in which case both references are indicated.

Committee Resolutions are available in full text in English.

Certified copies and notes verbales:
Certified copies are deposited in the archives of the IMO Secretariat. Each Foreign Minister is sent a copy in the relevant language with a note verbale attached. In addition, information copies of the notes verbales are sent to the United Nations Secretariat, United Nations Agencies, Non- Governmental and Intergovernmental Organisations in consultative status with IMO. Notes verbales and procès-verbaux of rectification are issued in English, French and Spanish. Only those notes verbales containing the text of Conventions or amendments have been included.

Other Sources:
The text, list of signatories and full text of declarations and reservations, amendments etc are available on the United Nations Treaties Home Page (by subscription and not all texts included).
Information on dates, ratification, accession etc is also available in the following reference sources:

Multilateral Treaties deposited with the Secretary-General. Status as at (date).United Nations document ST/LEG/SER.E/ on the United Nations Treaties Home Page
They may also be available from other websites but may be inaccurate or not up to date.

International Marine Environmental Law: Institutions, Implementation and Innovations/ Edited by Andree Kirchner . -- The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2003.

Information Resources on Treaties  may be found here. Treaties: General


Citations in  Official Journals, publications and reference books have been discontinued given the easy accessibility of this information on internet.  The user is also invited to check the United Nations Treaties Home Page for UNTS citations  of IMO Conventions

Special mention should be made of the following publications and databases which also include citations:

The following contain partial provisions and are not cited in the main body of this document:

IMO publications:
The IM0 sales number is followed by a letter to indicate the language: A for Arabic, C for Chinese, E for English, S for Spanish, F for French, R for Russian. Some publications may already have a sales number but may not be printed yet. Details are in the publications catalogue.
The IMO Conventions are available in the working languages of the Organisation, English, French, and Spanish. Many are also available as authentic text or official translation into Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Chinese.
Assembly Resolutions are available in English and French from the first session in 1959, in Spanish from the 4th session in 1965, in Arabic from the 14th session in 1985, in Chinese from the 11th session in 1979 and in Russian from the 9th session in 1975.

IMO documents:
IMO documents are available in English and French from 1959 and in Spanish from 1985.

National texts of treaties are published in the official language of the country but some may also contain an English, French or German version in parallel.


© Maritime Knowledge Centre.  Last update: 8 January 2009.