IMO's Objectives

All ships, including, where applicable, relevant construction material and equipment/installations, and onboard safety management system and security measures, shall be surveyed/verified by officers of the flag State Administrations or the recognized organizations (ROs)/recognized security organizations (RSOs)/nominated surveyors, authorized to carry out surveys/verifications and issue relevant certificates on behalf of flag State Administrations, so that relevant certificates under applicable IMO instruments can be issued to establish that the ships are designed, constructed, maintained and managed in compliance with the requirements of IMO Conventions, Codes and other instruments.

Legal Framework on Survey, Verification and Certification under UNCLOS and IMO Conventions

Article 94 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on Duties of the flag States stipulates that the flag State shall "effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag" and take "such measures for ships flying its flag as are necessary to ensure safety at sea with regard, inter alia, to the construction, equipment and seaworthiness of ships…", including, "those necessary to ensure that each ship ,before registration and thereafter at appropriate intervals, is surveyed by a qualified surveyor of ships…".

Article 217 of UNCLOS on Enforcement by flag States, stipulates that "States shall ensure that vessels flying their flag or of their registry carry on board certificates required by and issued pursuant to international rules and standards…"and "States shall ensure that vessels flying their flag are periodically inspected in order to verify that such certificates are in conformity with the actual condition of the vessels."

Within the legal framework under IMO Conventions, SOLAS 1974 regulation I/6; MARPOL Annex I regulation 6, Annex II regulation 8, Annex IV regulation 4 and Annex VI regulation 5; LL 1966 article 13; TONNAGE 1969 article 7; AFS 2001 article 10 and annex 4; and BWM 2004 regulation E-1, stipulate that the inspection and survey of ships shall be carried out by officers of the Administration. The Administration may, however, entrust the inspections and survey either to surveyors nominated for the purpose or to organizations recognized by it.

Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III) and Updated Survey Guidelines under the HSSC

The Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (formerly the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI)) usually establishes, as per its agenda, the Correspondence and Working/Drafting Groups on the Updated Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC).

The Groups, as usual, are tasked to consider and discuss issues raised in the context of survey and certification activities, such as implementation of IMO instruments and amendments thereto, Survey Guidelines under the HSSC, amendments to IMO instruments and unified interpretations of provisions contained in IMO instruments.

More detailed information on this area of work can be found in documents considered by the III Sub-Committee, which are available on IMODOCS.

Survey, Verification and Certification Requirements under IMO Conventions, Codes and Other Instruments

1.     Conventions:

SOLAS 1974, MARPOL, Load Lines 1966/1988, TONNAGE 1969, COLREG 1972, AFS 2001, BWM 2004  and etc;

2.     Codes:

HSC 1994/2000 Code, IBC Code, BHC Code, IGC/GC Code, MODU Code, SPS Code, Polar Code, IGF Code, BWMS Code, Grain Code, NOx Technical Code, FSS Code, 2010 FTP Code, LSA Code, 2008 IS Code, Noise Code,  2011 ESP Code, ISM Code, ISPS Code, RO Code and etc; and

3.     Other instruments

(the updated listing of non-mandatory instruments is maintained in the GISIS Module on non-mandatory instruments):

  • Global and uniform implementation of the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC) (resolution A.883(21));
  • Survey guidelines under the Harmonized System on Survey and Certification (HSSC), 2021 (resolution A.1156(32));
  • 2014 Guidelines on survey and certification of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) (MEPC.254(67)), as amended by MEPC.261(68) and MEPC.309(73);
  • 2022 Guidelines for survey and certification of anti-fouling systems on ships (MEPC.358(78));
  • Surveys and inspections of ro-ro passenger ships (resolution A.794(19));
  • Revised Guidelines on the implementation of the international Safety Management (ISM) Code by Administrations (resolution A.1118(30));
  • Interim Guidance on control and compliance measures to enhance maritime security (MSC.159(78))
  • etc.

Certificates and Documents

Certificates and documents required to be carried on board ships are listed in FAL.2/Circ.133-MEPC.1/Circ.902-MSC.1/Circ.146 -LEG.2/Circ.4, as may be amended.

Certificates may be issued in electronic form, in this regard, please refer to Guidelines for use of electronic certificates (FAL.5/Circ.39/Rev.2) and GISIS module on Survey and Certification.

The certificates and documents are issued by the officers of flag State Administrations or their ROs/RSOs/nominated surveyors authorized for the purpose and are subject to inspection by port State control officers (PSCOs).

Reporting on Exemption, equivalents, Specimen of certificates, e-certificates and voluntary early implementation

Reporting on exemption, equivalents, specimen of certificates under the relevant provisions of IMO mandatory instruments as well as the use of electronic certificates (FAL.5/Circ.39/Rev.2), voluntary early implementation of amendments to SOLAS and related mandatory instruments (MSC.1/Circ.1565) by flag Administrations should be arranged using the GISIS module on Survey and Certification which can be accessed by Members as per resolution A.1074(28) on Notification and circulation through the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS)).