Discover what ISPS code is, why it’s important, and which organizations need to comply with the code.
Updated 13 Dec 2022, Published 26 Sep 2022
The ISPS Code is the International Ship and Port Facility’s security code. It serves as a way to regulate maritime operations to ensure the security of ports, cargo, ships, and the crew on board vessels.
The ISPS code is a framework for ports worldwide that allows them to cooperate, interact, and prevent events that may threaten maritime security. The primary goal of the ISPS code is to ensure that the appropriate security measures are in place to protect the crew, cargo, and ships whenever there’s a threat.
It’s also in place to ensure that the proper preventive measures are in place to reduce the chances of security threats happening in the first place. As a result, the ISPS code involves:
The ISPS code is a part of SOLAS, which means the ships from all countries that signed the treaty engaged in international travel need to abide by the code. ISPS code doesn’t apply to warships, ships with less than 500 GT, non-commercial yachts, wooden ships, and fishing boats.
Both passenger ships and cargo vessels carrying 3,000 tonnes or more are required to comply with ISPS code. Ships that don’t follow ISPS code may be denied entry to ports, sent away from ports, and will not be issued an International Ship Security Certificate.
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
To start, ISPS code requires that all ships with more than 500GT have a Ship Security Plan. Through the code, ports, ships, and local government agencies may cooperate in determining and addressing security threats in the maritime industry.
Some of the main ISPS code requirements include prohibiting the use and carry of unauthorized weapons within ships and port facilities, restricting unauthorized ship access, and establishing security zones. They also include establishing ship security plans, as well as proper training to establish the plans and ensure that everyone involved understands the proper protocol in the event of security threats.
ISPS Code has three levels of security. This is to indicate the risk level that a ship or port is currently facing, with the accompanying protocol for what to do in the event of these risks. The local port authority consults with the local government to determine the security levels, and they then have to communicate the security levels to the ships for combined action.
The first level of security is the baseline for all ports and ships. This is used to describe the normal security conditions of the location and is the normal security level of most ports and ships. Under security level one, the minimum security measures need to be maintained at all times.
This level indicates heightened security. This level is put in place whenever there’s a heightened risk or security threat. When there’s heightened security, the security experts on board or in the port decide how long to maintain heightened security. When level two is in place, additional security measures and controls will be in place as long as the port or ship remains on security level two.
This describes an exceptional security level. This means that there is an imminent security threat to the port or the ship and that specific security measures will be in place to handle the threat. If there is a level three security threat, the authorities will work with government agencies to handle the situation. During this time, they may also implement various protocols that were decided in the event of these types of situations.
The ISPS charge is a surcharge that some customers may have to pay for certain goods.
Complying with ISPS code is very important to ensure that a ship or port can operate internationally as well as to keep the crew and cargo as safe as possible. That said, complying with ISPS code usually means allocating funds for security training, security measures, and other requirements.
So, carriers may pass over some of these costs to the customers by charging an “ISPS charge.” Generally, the party that pays for the freight is required to pay the ISPS charge. In most cases, this will be the consignee or shipper.
ISPS code is integral for maritime security and it also gives organizations the ease of mind that security measures are in place to protect employees and cargo. And to ensure compliance with ISPS code, some carriers may include an ISPS charge in their invoice.
One of the biggest challenges in implementing ISPS code is training the crew and employees to ensure that they understand the code, the security levels, and controls in place on the ship or in the port. That’s why proper briefing is a crucial step when implementing ISPS code, whether in a port or on a ship.
The ISPS code was initially adopted in December of 2002. However, the code only fully came into force two years later on the 1st of July, 2004.
The ISPS code was initially put in place as a preventive measure after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This was to ensure maritime security and prevent terrorist attacks on maritime vessels, which may be a target for such attacks and security threats.
ISPS code requires all shipping vessels with 500GT or more to comply with the code. Any ship carrying passengers or cargo of this size must comply with the code during international travel.
Complying with ISPS code, while necessary, can be difficult. For example, ensuring that all the crew are trained and brief on the Ship Security Plan and what to do in the event of different security levels is a tall task, and actually implementing the security measures to ensure compliance is even tougher.
This is when digital tools can come in handy for many organizations. For example, conducting an internal ISPS audit is crucial to assess whether or not the organization is ISPS compliant. And to do that, teams can use our internal ISPS audit templates that make it easier to check for compliance.
Additionally, tools such as SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) can also make it easier to comply with ISPS code. While the tool works best with an internet connection, it can also work offline and sync later on when there’s a more stable connection, so you won’t lose functionality when out at sea.
Some of the features SafetyCulture offer to smoothen out operations and ensure ISPS code compliance are:
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.
When is a Vehicle Fully Autonomous? According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), fully ...
Shipyards can remain competitive in today’s ever-evolving maritime market by taking a ...
In addition to steel, pressure vessels can also be made from aluminum or composite materials. ...