The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS), as amended, deals with various aspects of maritime safety and contains in chapter VII the mandatory provisions governing the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form.  The carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form shall comply with the relevant provisions of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code which is considered an extension to the provisions of SOLAS chapter VII.

Furthermore, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL), which contains in its Annex III mandatory provisions for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form, prohibits the carriage of harmful substances in ships except in accordance with the provisions of MARPOL Annex III, which are also extended in the IMDG Code.

The IMDG Code was developed as an international code for the maritime transport of dangerous goods in packaged form, in order to enhance and harmonize the safe carriage of dangerous goods and to prevent pollution to the environment. The Code sets out in detail the requirements applicable to each individual substance, material or article, covering matters such as packing, container traffic and stowage, with particular reference to the segregation of incompatible substances.

The Code, was initially adopted in 1965 as a recommendatory instrument.  It was in 2002 that the general Assembly at its seventeenth session adopted by resolution A.716(17) the IMDG Code, and decides to give it a mandatory status under the umbrella of SOLAS Convention, from 1 January 2004. However, some parts of the Code remain  recommendatory.

  • paragraph (Notification of infringements)
  • paragraphs to (Training)
  • chapter 1.4 (Security provisions) except, which is mandatory
  • section 2.1.0 of chapter 2.1 (Class 1 – Explosives, Introductory notes)
  • section 2.3.3 of chapter 2.3 (Determination of flashpoint)
  • columns 15 and 17 of the Dangerous Goods List in chapter 3.2
  • the segregation flow chart and example in the annex to chapter 7.2
  • section 5.4.5 of chapter 5.4 (Multimodal Dangerous Goods Form), insofar as the layout of the form is concerned
  • chapter 7.8 (Special requirements in the event of an incident and fire precautions involving dangerous goods)
  • section 7.9.3 (Contact information for the main designated national competent authorities)
  • appendix B
  • Since its introduction in 1965, the IMDG Code has undergone many changes, both in appearance and content to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of industry. Amendments which do not affect the principles upon which the Code is based may be adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee alone. Thus IMO can respond to transport developments in reasonable time.

    Amendments to the IMDG Code are made (E&T Group) on a two-year cycle, these are mainly originated from two sources; proposals submitted directly to IMO by Member Governments and amendments required to take account of changes to the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods which sets the basic requirements for all the transport modes.