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Maritime safety: International Safety Management (ISM) Code

The purpose of the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (International Safety Management (ISM) Code) is to establish a management system in shipping companies to ensure the safe operation of ships and the prevention of pollution. The Code was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and reproduced in Chapter IX of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Implementation of the ISM Code is obligatory in all the Member States.


Regulation (EC) No 336/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on the implementation of the International Safety Management Code within the Community and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 3051/95 (Text with EEA relevance) [Official Journal L 64, 4.3.2006].



The Regulation ensures that the Code is implemented correctly, strictly and uniformly in all the Member States in order to enhance safety management and safe operation and to prevent pollution. It applies to:

  • cargo ships flying the flag of a Member State;
  • passenger ships flying the flag of a Member State and engaged on national or international voyages;
  • cargo ships engaged on domestic voyages, whatever their flag;
  • mobile offshore drilling units operating under the authority of a Member State.

The Regulation does not apply to:

  • warships or troopships owned by a Member State and used only on government non-commercial service;
  • ships not propelled by mechanical means, wooden ships of primitive build, yachts and pleasure craft, unless they are carrying more than 12 passengers for commercial purposes;
  • fishing vessels;
  • cargo ships and mobile offshore drilling units of less than 500 gross tonnage;
  • passenger ships, other than ro-ro passenger ferries, in sea areas of Class C and D as defined in Article 4 of Directive 98/18/EC.

Certification and verification

Member States must comply with the provisions in Part B of the ISM Code and Title II of the Annex to the Regulation.


If a Member State considers it difficult in practice for certain companies to comply with certain requirements of the ISM Code, it may derogate from these provisions by imposing equivalent measures. It may also establish alternative certification and verification procedures. It must then inform the Commission thereof.


Member States must establish a system of effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for failure to comply with national provisions adopted pursuant to the Regulation.


Member States must report to the Commission every two years on the implementation of the ISM Code. The Commission must use these reports to compile a consolidated report addressed to the European Parliament and the Council.


ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 336/200624.3.2006-OJ L 64, 4.3.2006


Regulation (EC) No 2099/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 November 2002 establishing a Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (COSS) and amending the Regulations on maritime safety and the prevention of pollution from ships [OJ L 324, 29.11.2002].

Council Directive 98/18/EC of 17 March 1998 on safety rules and standards for passenger ships [OJ L 144, 15.05.1998].

Council Directive 95/21/EC of 19 June 1995 concerning the enforcement, in respect of shipping using Community ports and sailing in the waters under the jurisdiction of the Member States, of international standards for ship safety, pollution prevention and shipboard living and working conditions (port State control) [Official Journal L 157, 7.7.1995].

Council Directive 94/57/EC of 22 November 1994 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations [OJ L 319, 12.12.1994].

Last updated: 06.08.2007
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