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International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) General and Mandatory Requirements for Seafarers, Ships, Ports and Contracting Governments

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What is the ISPS Code?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) mandated International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) is a supplement to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS). ISPS Code is a set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities and intends to provide an international framework for mandatory requirements regarding the provisions of Chapter XI-2 of SOLAS

The Code is a two-part document (Part A and Part B) describing mandatory requirements and guidance for security of ships and ports. Part A provides mandatory requirements and Part B provides guidance or recommendations for implementation. Some contracting governments have elected to treat Part B also as mandatory. Part A always prevail and override any inconsistency in Part B of the Code.


What are the General Requirements of the ISPS Code?

ISPS Code requires all passenger ships regardless of size and all cargo ships above 500 GT to carry a Ship Security Plan. The Code establishes co-operation between States Parties, State Agencies, Local Administrations and the maritime and port industries in detecting security threats and preventing security incidents affecting ships in ports and the port facilities. it also provides methodology for performing security assessments for the implementation and adaptation of the security plans.

The ISPS requirements include - prohibition of unauthorized weapons or devices within port facilities or ships; unauthorized access to ships, port facilities and restricted zones; security plans for ships and port facilities; and appropriate training for familiarization with these plans to name a few.

Who Should Comply with ISPS Code?

  • Passenger ships and high-speed passenger crafts
  • Merchant Ships and high-speed cargo crafts of 500 gross tonnage or more
  • Mobile offshore drilling units (MODU)
  • Port facilities serving ships engaged on international voyages
  • Port facilities serving merchant / cargo & passenger ships
  • Shipping companies engaged on international voyages and transport of merchant goods

ISPS Code does not apply to:

  • Merchant vessels less than 500 gross tons
  • Fishing vessels
  • Small vessels and harbour craft that operate solely within the port limits
  • Pleasure crafts
  • Ships not propelled by mechanical means
  • Wooden ships of primitive build
  • Warships, naval auxiliaries and coast guard ships
  • Ships owned or operated by Government and used only on Government non-commercial service

Important Terms Used in the ISPS Code

  • Ship: The term Ship, when used in this Code, includes mobile offshore drilling units and high-speed craft as defined in regulation XI-2/1.
  • Port Facility: The port facility is where the ship and port interface takes place and, it includes areas such as anchorages, waiting berths, and approaches from seaward.
  • Contracting Government: The term Contracting Governmentin connection with any reference to a port facility, when used in sections 14 to 18, includes a reference to the Designated Authority.
  • Declaration of Security (DoS): Declaration of security is an agreement reached between a ship and either a port facility or another ship with which it interfaces, specifying the security measures each will implement.
  • Company Security Officer (CSO): Company security officer means the person designated by the Company for ensuring that a ship security assessment is carried out; that a ship security plan is developed, submitted for approval, and thereafter implemented and maintained and for liaison with port facility security officers and the ship security officer.
  • Ship Security Assessment (SSA): Ship security assessment is a risk-based analysis of security hazards or threats for each ship the company operates.
  • Ship Security Plan (SSP): Ship security plan means a plan developed to ensure the application of measures on board the ship designed to protect persons on board, cargo, cargo transport units, ship’s stores or the ship from the risks of a security incident.
  • Ship Security Officer (SSO): Ship security officer means the person on board the ship, accountable to the master, designated by the Company as responsible for the security of the ship, including implementation and maintenance of the ship security plan and for liaison with the company security officer and port facility security officers.
  • ISPS Security Level 1: Security level 1 means the level for which minimum appropriate protective security measures shall be maintained at all times.
  • ISPS Security Level 2: Security level 2 means the level for which appropriate additional protective security measures shall be maintained for a period of time as a result of heightened risk of a security incident.
  • ISPS Security Level 3: Security level 3 means the level for which further specific protective security measures shall be maintained for a limited period of time when a security incident is probable or imminent, although it may not be possible to identify the specific target.
  • Port Facility Security Assessment (PFSA): The Port facility security assessment  is a risk analysis of all aspects of a port facility’s operation in order to determine which parts of it are more susceptible to be the subject of attack.
  • Port Facility Security Plan (PFSP): Port facility security plan means a plan developed to ensure the application of measures designed to protect the port facility and ships, persons, cargo, cargo transport units and ship’s stores within the port facility from the risks of a security incident.
  • Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO): Port facility security officer means the person designated as responsible for the development, implementation, revision and maintenance of the port facility security plan and for liaison with the ship security officers and company security officers.

ISPS Code

ISPS Code - Mandatory Requirements & Guidance




Mandatory Part A of the code outlines maritime and port security requirements to which SOLAS contracting governments, port authorities, and shipping companies must adhere to. Part B of the Code provides recommendatory guidelines on how to meet these requirements.

Sections 5 to 13 and 19 of Part A apply to Companies and Ships as specified in SOLAS regulation XI-2/4 & Sections 5 and 14 to 18 of Part A apply to Port Facilities as specified in SOLAS regulation XI-2/10. Each section below contains the mandatory requirements (Part A) and guidance (Part B).

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LAST UPDATED ON Oc 1, 2022