Legal Framework on Recognized Organizations (ROs) in IMO Conventions

Under the provisions of SOLAS 1974/1988 regulation I/6, MARPOL Annex I regulation 6, MARPOL Annex II regulation 8, MARPOL Annex IV regulation 4, MARPOL Annex VI regulation 5, LLC 1966/1988 article 13, TONNAGE 1969 article 7 and AFS 2001 Annex 4 regulation 1, the inspection and survey of ships shall be carried out by officers of the flag Administration. The flag Administration may, however, entrust the inspections and surveys either to surveyors nominated for the purpose or to organizations recognized by it.

The flag Administrations may entrust the inspection and surveys to recognized organizations (ROs), however, as stated in paragraph 20 of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) (resolution A.1070(28)),  "the flag State should establish or participate in an oversight programme with adequate resources for monitoring of, and communication with, its recognized organization(s) in order to ensure that its international obligations are fully met, by:

  1. exercising its authority to conduct supplementary surveys to ensure that ships entitled to fly its flag effectively comply with the requirements of the applicable international instruments;
  2. conducting supplementary surveys as it deems necessary to ensure that ships entitled to fly its flag comply with national requirements, which supplement the international mandatory requirements; and
  3. providing staff who have a good knowledge of the rules and regulations of the flag State and those of the recognized organizations and who are available to carry out effective oversight of the recognized organizations."

Code for Recognized Organizations (RO Code)

To assist in achieving harmonized and consistent global implementation of requirements established by IMO instruments for the assessment,authorization and oversight of recognized organizations (ROs), IMO adopted the Code for Recognized Organizations (RO Code) by resolutions MEPC.237(65) and MSC.349(92), to replace resolutions A.739(18) on Guidelines for the authorization of organizations acting on behalf of the Administration and A.789(19) on Specifications on the survey and certification functions of recognized organizations (ROs) acting on behalf of the Administration.

The RO Code serves as the international standard and consolidated instrument containing minimum criteria against which organizations are assessed towards recognition and authorization and the guidelines for the oversight by flag States. The RO Code:

  1. provides flag States with a standard that will assist in achieving harmonized and consistent global implementation of requirements established by the instrument of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the assessment and authorization of recognized organizations (ROs);
  2. provides flag States with harmonized, transparent and independent mechanisms, which can assist in the consistent oversight of ROs in an efficient and effective manner; and
  3. clarifies the responsibilities of organizations authorized as ROs for a flag State and overall scope of authorization.

Reporting Requirements on ROs 

As required by the relevant provisions of the aforementioned Conventions, the flag Administrations shall communicate information regarding ROs to IMO. In this regard, reporting under MSC/Circ.1010-MEPC/Circ.382 on Communication of information on the authorizations of recognized organization, should be arranged using the GISIS module on Recognized Organizations which can be accessed by Members as per resolution A.1074(28) on Notification and circulation through the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).