Documents of relevance to SAR

This page provides maritime or joint rescue coordination centres (MRCC or JRCC), solely for their operational purposes, with a minimum list of documents which are essential for such centres to have in their possession or to have rapid and reliable access to a digital version. The list only covers search and rescue and no other tasks which RCCs may require to perform.

IMO publications

IMO documents

Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS)

Non-IMO documents

1. IMO publications

All following publications are available (to be purchased) at here.

REFERENCE (dd/mm/yy) where applicable TITLE
IF-110 A/C/E/F/R/S 2014 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) (Consolidated Edition, 2014)
IB-955 E
EB-955 A/C/F/R/S
2006 International Convention on Search and Rescue, 1979 (SAR 1979) (2006 Edition)
II-960 E/F/S 2019
International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual,
Volume I – Organization and Management (2019 Edition)
IF-961 E/F/S 2019
International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual,
Volume II – Mission Coordination (2019 Edition)
II-962 E/F/S 2019
International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual,
Volume III  – Mobile Facilities (2019 Edition)
IH-970 E 2019
GMDSS Manual (2019 Edition)
I-969 E 1992 GMDSS Operating Guidance Card (1992 Edition)
IA-987 E/F/S 2005 IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases (IMO SMCP) – (including CD: pronunciation guide) (2005 Edition)
IC-908 E/F/S 2017International SafetyNET Manual (2017 Edition)
IE-951 E/F/S 2017NAVTEX Manual (2017 Edition)
IB-910 E/F/S 2015 Manual on Maritime Safety Information (Joint IMO/IHO/WMO MSI Manual) (2015 Edition)
IA-994 E/S, EA-994 F 2005 International Code of Signals (2005 Edition)
IL-200 E/F/S 2018 International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) (2018 Edition - Amendement 39-18)
IJ-210 E/F/S 2018 IMDG Code Supplement (2018 Edition)

2. IMO documents

The following Assembly resolutions and MSC circulars are available for free at:

COMSAR circulars are available for free at (IMODOCS):

MSC circulars are available for free at (IMODOCS):

GMDSS circulars are available for free at (IMODOCS):

where applicable
Res. A.705(17), as amended by
Recommendation on promulgation of Maritime Safety Information
Res. A.706(17), as amended by
World-Wide Navigational Warning Service
Res. A.814(19) 23/11/95Guidelines for the avoidance of false distress alerts
Res. A.855(20) 27/11/97Standards for onboard helicopter facilities
Res. A.856(20) 27/11/97Guidance to Administrations on development of a shore‑based SAR telecommunication infrastructure
Res. A.887(21)25/11/99Establishment, updating and retrieval of the information contained in the registration databases for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
Res. A.919(22) 29/11/01 Acceptance and implementation of the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979, as amended
Res. A.920(22) 29/11/01 Review of safety measures and procedures for the treatment of persons rescued at sea
Res. A.949(23) 05/12/03 Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance
Res. A.950(23) 05/12/03 Maritime Assistance Services (MAS)
Res. A.954(23) 05/12/03 Proper use of VHF channels at sea
Res. A.999(25) 29/11/07 Guidelines on voyage planning for passenger ships operating in remote areas
Res. A.1051(27) 30/11/11 IMO/WMO Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service – Guidance Document
Res. A.1074(28) 15/01/14 Notification and circulation through the Global integrated shipping information system (GISIS)
Res. MSC.131(75) 21/05/02 Maintenance of a continuous listening watch on VHF channel 16 by SOLAS ships whilst at sea after 1 February 1999 and installation of VHF DSC facilities on non-SOLAS ships
Res. MSC.167(78) 20/05/04 Guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea
(Also see IMO/UNHCR/ICS leaflet below)
IMO/UNHCR/ICS leaflet 2015 Rescue at Sea – A guide to principles and practice as applied to refugees and migrants
Res. MSC.199(80) 16/05/05 Adoption of amendments to provision of radio services for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety system (GMDSS) – (resolution A.801(19))
Res. MSC.305(87) 17/05/10 Guidelines on operational procedures for the promulgation of Maritime Safety Information concerning acts of piracy and piracy counter-measure operations
Res. MSC.436(99) 24/05/18 Amendments2 to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended
Includes amendments to chapter IV on Radiocommunications, which incorporate the changes made to accommodate recognized mobile satellite services under GMDSS.
COMSAR/Circ.3 19/04/96 Relations between NAVAREA Coordinators and Rescue Coordination Centres
COMSAR/Circ.22 20/06/00 Guidance on data fields for SAR databases
COMSAR/Circ.23 20/06/00 Guidance for central alerting posts (CAPs)
COMSAR/Circ.25 15/03/01 Procedure for responding to DSC distress alerts by ships
COMSAR/Circ.29 27/05/02 Guidance for the voluntary use of the standardized questionnaires and formats for reporting false alerts in collecting data on false alerts
COMSAR/Circ.31 06/02/03 Guidance for Mass Rescue Operations (MROs)
COMSAR/Circ.35 21/05/04 Recommendations on medium frequency/high frequency (MF/HF) digital selective calling (DSC) test calls to coast stations
COMSAR/Circ.3618/02/05Broadcast of warnings for tsunamis and other natural disasters
COMSAR/Circ.37 28/02/05 Guidance on minimum communication needs of Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs)
COMSAR.1/Circ.41 16/10/07 Analysis of Maritime Safety Information Promulgated via the EGC SafetyNET system and recommendations on improving its quality
COMSAR.1/Circ.45 04/02/09 Guidance on distress alerts
COMSAR.1/Circ.50/Rev.3 13/01/12 Distress priority communications for RCC from shore to ship via Inmarsat
COMSAR.1/Circ.53/Rev.2 22/07/13 List of Land Earth Station (LES) Operation Coordinators in the Inmarsat System
COMSAR.1/Circ.55 30/11/12 Guidance for entering and updating information on search and rescue services into GISIS and on how to get access  to the information for operational use
COMSAR.1/Circ.56 30/11/12 Guidance on smartphone and other computer device SAR applications
MSC/Circ.805 06/06/97 Guidance for the use of radio signals by ships under attack or threat of attack from pirates or armed robbers
MSC/Circ.892 16/12/98 Alerting of search and rescue authorities
MSC/Circ.895 04/02/99 Recommendation on helicopter landing areas on ro-ro passenger ships
MSC/Circ.896/Rev.2 26/05/16 Interim measures for combating unsafe practices associated with the trafficking, smuggling or transport of migrants by sea
MSC/Circ.959 20/06/00 Interim procedures for MRCCs on receipt of distress alerts
MSC/Circ.960 20/06/00 Medical assistance at sea
MSC/Circ.1042 28/05/02 List of contents of the "Emergency Medical Kit/Bag" and medical consideration for its use on ro-ro passenger ships not normally carrying a medical doctor
MSC/Circ.1043 31/05/02 Guidance on ships' daily reporting of their positions to their companies
MSC/Circ.1073 10/06/03 Measures to enhance maritime security – Directives for maritime rescue coordination centres (MRCCs) on acts of violence against ships
MSC/Circ.1078 06/06/03 Guidelines to Administrations on reporting false alerts
MSC/Circ.1079/Rev.1 16/06/17 Guidelines for preparing plans for cooperation between search and rescue services and passenger ships (in accordance with SOLAS regulation V/7.3)
MSC/Circ.1105 25/02/04 Guidance on responsibility and liability issues related to the use of the emergency medical kit/bag and evaluation of its use in emergency incidents
MSC/Circ.1156 23/05/05 Guidance on the access of public authorities, emergency response services and pilots on board ships to which SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code apply
MSC/Circ.1172 23/05/05 Identification of passenger ships, other than ro-ro passenger ships, which should benefit from being equipped with the Emergency Medical Kit/Bag (EMK)
MSC.1/Circ.1182/Rev.1 21/11/14 Guide to recovery techniques
MSC.1/Circ.1183 31/05/06 Guidelines on the provision of external support as an aid to incident containment for SAR Authorities and others concerned
MSC.1/Circ.1184 31/05/06 Enhanced contingency planning guidance for passenger ships operating in areas remote from SAR facilities
MSC.1/Circ.1185/Rev.130/11/12 Guide for cold water survival
MSC.1/Circ.1186 01/06/06 Guidelines on the training of SAR service personnel working in major incidents
MSC.1/Circ.1208 22/05/06 Promoting and verifying continued familiarization of GMDSS operators on board ships
MSC.1/Circ.1210/Rev.1 21/11/14 Guidance on the Cospas-Sarsat International 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database
MSC.1/Circ.1214 15/12/06 Performance standards for the systems and services to remain operational on passenger ships for safe return to port and orderly evacuation and abandonment after a casualty
MSC.1/Circ.1218 15/12/06 Guidance on exchange of medical information between telemedical assistance services (TMAS) involved in international SAR operations
MSC.1/Circ.1248 16/10/07 Minimizing delays in search and rescue response to distress alerts
MSC.1/Circ.1287/Rev.1 24/06/13 Amendments to resolution A.705(17) – Promulgation of Maritime Safety Information
MSC.1/Circ.1288/Rev.1 24/06/13 Amendments to resolution A.706(17) – World‑Wide Navigational Warning Service
MSC.1/Circ.1333/Rev.1 26/06/09 Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships
MSC.1/Circ.1334 23/06/09 Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships
MSC.1/Circ.1338/Rev.1 21/11/14 Guidance to search and rescue services in relation to requesting and receiving LRIT information
MSC.1/Circ.1365 24/05/10 Commercially available locating, tracking and emergency notification devices
MSC.1/Circ.1382/Rev.2 24/06/13 Questionnaire on the availability of shore‑based facilities in the GMDSS
MSC.1/Circ.1403/Rev.1 25/11/16 Revised NAVTEX Manual, which will enter into force on 1 January 2018
MSC.1/Circ.1412/Rev.1 21/11/14 Principles and Guidelines relating to the review and audit of the performance of LRIT Data Centres and the International LRIT Data Exchange (Principles and Guidelines)
MSC.1/Circ.1413 25/05/12 Basic safety guidance for yacht races or oceanic voyages by non-regulated craft
MSC.1/Circ.1447 14/12/12 Guidelines for the development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water
MSC.1/Circ.1594 25/05/18 Amendments to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual
GMDSS.1/Circ.22 30/07/18 Master Plan of shore-based facilities for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS Master Plan)
Current SAR.7/Circular List of documents which should be held by a MRCC or JRCC

3. Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS)

REFERENCEDATE(dd/mm/yy)where applicableTITLE
Global SAR Plan module Real timeGlobal SAR Plan
Contact Points module on Maritime Assistance Services Real timeContact Points on Maritime Assistance Services
GMDSS module Real timeGMDSS Master Plan

4. Non-IMO documents

REFERENCEDATE (dd/mm/yy)where applicableTITLE
ITU List IV2017
(updated biennially)
List IV – List of Coast Stations and Special Service Stations [on CD-ROM]
can be purchased at:
ITU List V 2018
(updated annually)
List V – List of Ship Stations and Maritime Mobile Service Identity Assignments [on CD-ROM]
can be purchased at:
ITU MARSUpdated dailyMaritime mobile Access and Retrieval System (MARS) containing the same information as in List IV and List V above
Available for free at:
Cospas-Sarsat –C/S G.007 February 2018Handbook on Distress Alert Messages for RCCs, SPOCs and IMO Ship Security Competent Authorities (Issue 2, revision 1)
Available for free at:
List of Radio Signals List of Radio Signals
Air Navigation Plan for ICAO region the MRCC or JRCC is located in Electronic Air Navigation Plan (eANP) available on ICAO Regional Office website located at:
ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices
ISBN 978-92-9231-384-5
July 2004 Annex 12 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation – Search and Rescue