Security of Ships and Ports

An EU Regulation provides for measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities from unlawful acts.  The regulation provides for harmonised EU action to monitor enhanced maritime security adopted by the International Maritime Organisation in 2002 which established the International Ship and Port Safety Security Code.  It amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention.

The regulation transposes part of the Convention on the special measures EU states must communicate to the IMO, the Commission and other states in relation to requested information and measures adopted to enhance maritime security.

States must draw up a list of port facilities on the basis of security assessments carried out to establish the scope and the measures taken to enhance maritime security.  They were required to be communicated to the EU Commission.

States must monitor compliance with security rules by ships planning to enter EU ports irrespective of origin.  Security checks may be carried out by the competent authority of the state.

When a ship proposes to enter a state, the authorities should demand information at least 24 hours in advance, or if the voyage is less than 24 hours when it leaves the previous port.  The authorities should require each ship to provide advance information concerning its international ship security certificate and the levels of safety it operates.  States were required to apply the measures to Class A passenger ships and thereafter take steps with a view to extending them to other categories of ships.

Reporting Requirements for Ships

The EU Directive provides for standardised and simplified reporting requirements for ships calling at EU ports.  It is a general requirement internationally that ships arriving or departing ports must provide documents and information relating to the ship crews, passengers etc.

The Convention on International Facilitation of Marine Traffic has been in force for over 45 years.  The Directive requires that EU states recognise standardised forms under the Convention which provide the requisite information on arrival and departure.

The prescribed forms under the Convention deal with the general declaration.

  • Declaration in relation to stores.
  • Declaration in relation to crews effects.
  • Crew list declaration.
  • Passenger list information.

States may not require further categories of information other than those provided by the Convention.

EU maritime information and exchange system

This European Union (EU) law sets up a vessel traffic monitoring and information exchange system. This seeks to enhance maritime safety, port and maritime security, environmental protection and pollution preparedness. It also permits the exchange and sharing of additional information facilitating efficient maritime traffic and transport.

Directive 2002/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system and repealing Council Directive 93/75/EEC.

This European Union (EU) law sets up a vessel traffic monitoring and information exchange system. This seeks to enhance maritime safety, port and maritime security, environmental protection and pollution preparedness. It also permits the exchange and sharing of additional information facilitating efficient maritime traffic and transport.

It sets up a system to monitor Europe’s waters and coasts – maritime surveillance and situational awareness (ship positions) – supporting EU countries in their operational tasks.

To improve situational awareness in the maritime domain and to provide tailor-made solutions to authorities, the law was amended by Commission Directive 2014/100/EU. This allows for the information gathered and exchanged using the EU’s maritime information and exchange system (SafeSeaNet (SSN)) to be integrated with data from the EU’s other monitoring and tracking systems, such as CleanSeaNet, and from external systems (e.g. satellite automatic identification systems (AISs)).

It lays down the responsibilities of EU countries, maritime authorities, shippers, shipping operators and masters of ships.

Key Points

All ships of 300 gross tonnes and upwards are covered, whether or not they carry dangerous goods, except for:

—fishing vessels, traditional ships and recreational craft less than 45 metres in length;
—bunkers below 1 000 tonnes.

Requirements on operators of ships bound for EU ports

They must notify certain information (ship identification, total number of persons on board, port of destination, estimated time of arrival, etc.) to the maritime national single window (since 1 June 2015).

Equipment and installations

Ships calling at a port of an EU country must be fitted with:

—an automatic identification system; and
—a voyage data recorder (VDR) system (‘black box’) to facilitate investigations following accidents;

EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries must have AIS receivers and must link the national single windows/national SSN with the central SSN system.

Dangerous or polluting goods onboard ships

—prior to taking such goods on board, shippers must declare these to the operator;
—the operator, agent or master of a ship must also notify general information, such as the ship identification and the information provided by the shipper, to the competent authority.

Monitoring of hazardous ships and intervention in the event of incidents and accidents

Authorities must inform the EU countries concerned if they are notified of ships that have:

—previously been involved in incidents or accidents at sea;
—failed to comply with notification and reporting requirements;
—deliberately discharged pollutants; or
—been refused access to ports.

The master of a ship must immediately report:

—any incident or accident affecting the safety of the ship;
—any incident or accident compromising shipping safety;
—any situation liable to lead to pollution of the waters or shore of an EU country;
—any slick of polluting materials and containers or packages seen drifting at sea.

Places of refuge

All EU/EEA countries have to draw up plans to accommodate ships in need of assistance in places of refuge. They must also meet regularly to exchange experience and take joint improvement measures.


EU countries must check the operation of their information systems and introduce a system of financial penalties to act as a deterrent against failure to comply with the directive’s requirements.


The system is developed and managed by the European Commission and the EU/EEA countries. The European Maritime Safety Agency is responsible for its technical operation.

This directive is an integral part of the EU’s maritime safety policy. Besides their role in maintaining safety, security and sustainability, the system and platform are central to creating a single European maritime area without barriers – the European Maritime Transport Space.



Entry into force

Deadline for implementation in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2002/59/EC



OJ L 208 of 5.8.2002, pp. 10-27

Amending act(s)

Information on Passengers

An EU directive provides for registration of persons on board passenger ships.  It does not apply to warships, troop ships or pleasure yachts.

All persons on a passenger ship departing a port in the EU must be counted.  The numbers must be communicated to the master of the ship or other designated person.  Where the ship has undertaken a journey of more than 20 C.  miles, passenger information including names, sex, age and other details must be collected and communicated to the passenger register.

Registration is required in respect of EU registered ships or third-party country ships departing from ports outside the EU bound for a port within the EU.  Exemptions may be granted in accordance with the convention on the safety of life at sea. Before a ship departs its master must ensure the persons do not exceed the maximum permitted.

Entities operating a passenger ship must set up systems for registration of passengers.  It must meet certain criteria.  They must appoint a passenger registrar for the purpose of keeping and transmitting information.

A state from which a passenger ship departs may lower the 20 miles threshold and may grant exemptions and derogations for passenger counting and registration for certain short trips where the probability of wave height is low or they are in protected sea area.


EU Directive requires the return of statistical data relating to cargo and passenger information and information on vessels.  The Directive specifies the data to be collected, types of classification, nationality, and vessel type.

The Commission is to draw up a list of ports.  EU states are to select lists of ports handling more than 1,000,000 tons or 200,000 passengers monthly.  These ports are subject to more detailed data collection. EU states must transmit the statistical information to Eurostat.

There is an EU regulation (which is being replaced by measures in relation to state aid for shipbuilding) sets out the type of permissible state aids and conditions which must be satisfied in order to be compatible with the common market.  There is provision

  • for social assistance intended to cover measures for the benefit of workers who are made redundant or are permanently deprived of employment in shipbuilding, conversion or repair where the assistance is related to the discontinuance of the activities.
  • applied research in accordance with limits in the Directive.
  • direct aid by way of loans or guarantees as development assistance to a developing country subject to compliance with the conditions.


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