International conventions

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​​​A number of the most important regulations applicable to Danish ships and seafarers emanate from international conventions adopted by the IMO.​

From international convention to Danish legislation

The most important IMO 'product' is the various international conventions negotiated, adopted and ratified by the Member States. Supplementing and elaborating on the conventions, the IMO has also adopted a number of 'codes', typically dealing with a specific technical area.

When Denmark has ratified a convention and it has entered into force, the Danish authorities are responsible for enforcing it, i.e. ensuring that Danish ships meet the requirements of the conventions.

Conventions normally enter into force once a sufficient number of IMO Member States have ratified them. In practice, this number is often defined on the basis of the total tonnage of the ratifying countries. A status on the level of ratification of the various conventions is available from the IMO webpage.

Where can I find IMO regulations?

Part of IMO expenses are covered by the sale of conventions and codes. Therefore, the texts are protected by IMO copyright and must be bought from the Organization. You can do this here:

Visit the IMO webshop

See status on the ratification of the conventions on the IMO webpage

When Denmark ratifies IMO regulation, it is subsequently transposed into Danish law. In some cases, the EU transposes EU regulation into EU directives and regulations, which are then implemented at national level in the individual legislative works of the EU Member States.

Important conventions

This is a brief description of the most important IMO conventions:

  • SOLAS - International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea

Many seafarers refer to SOLAS as the "bible of maritime safety". The convention is older than the IMO itself and was initially adopted as a consequence of the loss of the Titanic in 1912 - an episode that led to international focus on the necessity of regulation and minimum standards of safety on board ships. SOLAS regulates everything from the construction and equipment of ships to daily on-board operations, and many of the most important IMO codes are based on SOLAS.

  • MARPOL - International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships

MARPOL is the most important maritime environmental protection convention, which is, first and foremost, intended to limit air and water pollution by ships. MARPOL covers areas such as pollution, harmful liquids and substances, sewage, garbage and air pollution.

Conventions on liability, compensation and insurance obligations in connection with oil pollution and passenger transportation, etc.

These conventions include, for example, the oil fund conventions, which have established the obligation for recipients of oil to contribute to a common fund in order to be able to pay compensation when the compensation amounts in connection with pollution damage exceed the compensation obligation of each individual shipowner. Another example is the Athens Convention, which stipulates the liability, compensation and insurance obligations in connection with passenger transportation.

  • STCW - International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers

STCW is the international convention on education and training of seafarers, on certificates of competency and on watchkeeping. It stipulates the qualification and training requirements for masters, officers and watchkeeping personnel on board seagoing merchant ships.

  • FAL – International Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic

The purpose of the FAL Convention is to facilitate international maritime transport. The convention regulates a wide number of issues related to international voyages, which mainly arise in connection with stays in, calls at or departure from ports. The regulation spans a wide spectrum of issues. For example, the issue of which particular documentation the master of a ship has to provide to local port authorities, and as another example, provisions to ensure the correct handling of stowaways.

In addition to the conventions and codes mentioned here, the IMO has adopted and continues to adopt a number of other conventions and codes covering numerous issues related to shipping.

See a complete list of conventions on the IMO webpage



Maritime Regulation and Legal Affairs
Maritim regulering og jura
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