ship-certificates-statutory

A ship without certificates is a dead ship. It is impossible to sail a ship in high seas without valid certificates. Also any insurance taken up by the ship owner will be null and void if any certificate is invalid and expired.

I cannot say it enough, how important it is for a ship to have all valid certificates.

But apart from the certificates being valid, there is another requirement that we need to fulfill. All these original certificates need to be on board at all the times.

This makes it so much more important to know which all certificates a ship is required to carry on board.

But are all the certificates carried on board have equal importance ? Can the absence of any of these certificate make a ship unseaworthy ?

If we do not know the answers to these questions, we probably would not know the seriousness of the situation in case a certificate is expired or expiring.

That is where understanding the difference between statutory and mandatory certificate is important.

Difference between Statutory certificates and Mandatory certificates

Statutory certificates are required by the statute. Statute means law. So these are the certificates that are required by the law.

Mandatory certificates, as the name suggests are mandatory to carry on board.

But doesn’t that mean, all statutory certificates are mandatory ? Confusing right ?

While it is important that we have both type of certificates on board, there is a principle difference between statutory and mandatory certificates.

If we sail a ship without a statutory certificate (the one required by law), we are breaking the law. And like any other form of breaking law, it can be charged under criminal law.

Exclusive Bonus: Download the complete list of statutory certificates for ships

If we sail the ship without a mandatory certificate, we are not breaking the law.

But as these certificates are mandatory, we may not be allowed to enter into the port limit of a country. Or we may not be allowed to start the cargo operation.

Statutory and mandatory certificates together are called trading certificates. That is the certificates required for a ship to trade freely.

Now when we talk about statute or law, which laws are applicable to a ship ?

A ship need to follow the laws of the flag state whose flag it is flying. That is the laws of the country where the ship is registered.

An international convention is not a law. It becomes law only when a country adopts the convention by ratification or accession. That is when a country incorporate the convention into its local law.

Let us take an example of certificate required as per SOLAS convention. I am sailing on a ship whose flag has not ratified SOLAS convention.

is it statutory (required by law) to have the SOLAS certificates (safety equipments, safety construction etc) on board my ship ?

No, these will not be statutory certificates. But these certificates would become mandatory if the ship need to go to a country that has ratified SOLAS convention.

In this case SOLAS certificates will be mandatory but not statutory.

But with more that 99% of the world tonnage retified the SOLAS convention, we can safely say that certificates required as per SOLAS convention are statutory certificates.

difference-between-statutory-certificates-and-mandatory-certificates

I hope the difference in statutory and mandatory certificates is clear. Even if it is not clear, we can take two points home.

  1. Statutory certificates are required by law. The only law a ship need to follow is the laws of the country where it is registered
  2. Mandatory certificates are not required by law but are mandatory for international trading

Let us discuss few of these certificates.

1) Certificate of registry

This is the trading certificate issued to the ship by the flag state. This is the certificate that defines the nationality of the ship. This certificate also has the port of registry information.

If I can say it in simple words, this certificate is no different from the certificate of registry of our cars.

If you notice in the registration certificate of a car, it has following minimum information

  • Place & country of registration
  • Name and address of the owner of vehicle
  • Physical particulars of the vehicle (for example length and width)
  • Other details of the vehicle (like seating capacity, engine details etc)

Now the details in the certificate of registry of the ship is no different than this. It has the

  • port of registry of the ship
  • Name and address of the ship owner
  • Basic ship particulars like Length overall, Breadth, gross tonnage etc

certificate-of-registry

For a ship to qualify for registration in a particular country, the ship owner need to meet the conditions set by that country. For example for a ship to be registered in India, the ship should be

i) owned by a citizen of India or

ii) owned by a company or body established by or under any central or state Act which has its principle place of business in India. Or

iii) owned by a co-operative society which is registered or deemed to be registered under the Co-operative Society Act, 1912, or any other law relating to Co-operative Societies for the time being in force in any state.

When a ship qualifies to be registered in a country, the certificate of registry is issued based upon

While “Certificate of registry” does not have any expiry date, some flag state may give a validity period to this certificate.

As this certificate is required by local laws of the flag state as well as UNCLOS, this certificate would fall under statutory certificate category.

Certificates as per SOLAS Convention

SOLAS convention requires each ship to have and maintain certain certificates on board. Each ship whose flag state has ratified this convention would need to have these certificate as per law.

So for the ships whose flag has ratified the SOLAS convention, these certificate will be statutory certificates.

Let us discuss few of the certificates a ship need to have on board as per SOLAS convention.

2) Minimum safe manning certificate

As the name suggests, this certificate mentions how many minimum crew need to be on board to run the ship.

minimum-safe-manning-certificate

This is as per the rules of the each flag state and SOLAS chapter V regulation 14.

SOLAS chapter V asks flag states to set up manning level to ensure ships are adequately manned. As a general rule the number of crew required would depend upon

Minimum safe manning certificate usually does not have any expiry except for some flags. For example “minimum safe manning certificate” issued by Saudi Arabia have validity of 2 years.

The certificate is a statutory certificate as it is required by the flag states rules and SOLAS.

3) International ship safety equipments certificate

This certificate is issued to the ship after verifying the operational readiness of all the safety equipments on board.

The certificate need to have a form E attached with it. Form E of this certificate gives the detail of each safety equipment that need to be on board.

The certificate is valid maximum for 5 years. The class stamps the certificate for annual endorsement each year.

This certificate is required by SOLAS convention chapter III.

4) International ship construction certificate

This certificate is issued as per the requirements of SOLAS chapter II.

The certificate is valid maximum for 5 years. The class stamps the certificate for annual endorsement each year.

safety-construction-certificate

5) International Ship safety radio certificate

This certificate is issued as per the requirements of SOLAS chapter IV. The certificate is issued after verifying that all the radio equipments are in good working condition.

The certificate also has a Form R attached to it. Form R gives the details of all the radio equipments required and available on board.

The certificate is valid maximum for 5 years. The class stamps the certificate for annual endorsement each year after verifying each element.

6) Safety management system certificate

Safety management system certificate is issued as per the requirements of SOLAS chapter IX and ISM code. The issuance of this certificate to a ship means that it complies with the ISM code and the requirements of SOLAS chapter IX.

The certificate is valid for maximum 5 years. This certificate need to be endorsed for intermediate verification every 2.5 years. This intermediate endorsement is done after successful completion of external SMS audit which is done by the RSO (usually class) on behalf of the flag.

Certificates as per Marpol Convention

MARPOL convention requires each ship to have and maintain certain certificates on board. Each ship whose flag state has ratified this convention would need to have these certificate as per law.

So for the ships whose flag has ratified the MARPOL convention, these certificate will be statutory certificates.

Let us discuss few of the certificates a ship need to have on board as per SOLAS convention.

7) International oil pollution prevention certificate

IOPP certificate is issued to all the ships to which annex I of the MARPOL applies. Annex I is not only applicable to the ships that carry oil as cargo but also to the ships that carry bunker oil as fuel.

iopp-certificate

IOPP certificate will have either the Form A or Form B attached to it. Form A applies to the ships that do not carry oil as cargo. Form B applies to the oil tankers or the ships that carry oil as cargo.

form-b-of-iopp-certificate

Form A and form B gives the details of the equipments required as per MARPOL annex I that are fitted on board. These equipments may include

  • Oil discharge monitoring equipment
  • Oily water separator
  • Incinerator
  • details and capacity of engine room bilges
  • Inert gas system or Inert gas generator

The certificate also has maximum 5 years validity and is endorsed annually. The certificate is endorsed after class verifies

  • all the MARPOL equipments
  • Operations of the Marpol equipments
  • All the Marpol related records

8) International sewage pollution prevention certificate

Issuance of this certificate certifies that ship is in compliant with the annex IV of the marpol. The certificate gives the details of

  • Sewage treatment plant (if fitted)
  • Sewage holding tank & its capacity (if fitted)
  • number of persons the sewage treatment plant or sewage holding tank is certified for

The certificate is valid for maximum 5 years.

9) International air pollution prevention certificate

This certificate certifies that ship complies with the Annex VI of the marpol. The certificate have

  • the detail of the all the engines (main as well as auxilary).
  • information if the vessel comes under tier I, II or III

The certificate can have maximum validity of 5 years.

Certificate as per Loadline convention

10) International loadline certificate

This certificate gives the detail of the loadlines of the vessel. In simple words from this certificate we can get following information

  • Draft corresponding to each loadline (for example Summer loadline draft, tropical loadline draft etc)
  • Freeboard corresponding to each loadline (for example freeboard of the ship at summer loadline, tropical loadline etc).

The certificate is issued after loadlines are assigned to the vessel. The loadline convention requires each ship to maintain a minimum freeboard. So it is in fact the freeboard that is assigned to the ship.

“Freeboard assignment certificate” gives the entire calculation for freeboard assignment to the ship. The corresponding drafts are are then calculated by substracting the freeboard from the total depth of the ship.

The assignment of freeboard depends upon a lots of factors. These are the factors that contributes to the reserve buoyancy of the ship. Some of these factors include

  • Air pipes of the ballast tanks
  • Water tightness of the water tight doors
  • Mast houses & store rooms on deck
  • drain plugs of the water tight compartments such as mast houses

Checking and verification of all these factors becomes the basis of annual endorsement and renewal of loadline certificate.

loadline-survey

The certificate is valid for maximum 5 years and it requires annual endorsement on the certificate.

11) Certificate of class

Involvement of classification societies in ship building and ship machinery has become a necessity because of their expertise in the field.

Solas Chapter II has a mention of the role of classification societies.

solas-classification-society

So ships either need to be constructed as per the rules of class or as per national standards of the administration.

But it is so much easy for the flags to follow the rules of the class than develop its own rules which also need to be updated as per the amendments to the various regulations.

So having the ships comply with the classification rules along with the statutory requirements have become a norm for international standards for ships.

classification-society-rules-and-statutory-requirements

If the ship is constructed as per the rules of classification societies, It is statutory for ship to have certificate of class that proves that ship is constructed that way.

Ship can also be constructed as per the national standards of the flag state in which case class certificate would not be required. But it is very rare that a classification society is not involved in the construction of a ship.

Mandatory certificates

So far we have discussed some of the statutory certificates. We have also discussed that if a flag has not ratified a convention, for the ships flying its flag these certificate would not be statutory.

But for these ships, the certificates required under these conventions would be mandatory for international trading.

Mandatory certificates are also sometimes referred to as obligatory certificates.

But are there any other certificates that are not statutory but are mandatory. Yes, there are. Let us discuss few of these certificates.

12) Certificate of entry for P&I club

This certificate shows that ship is covered under the P&I club which has issued this certificate. If the ship is not covered by a P&I club, the port authorities may not allow the ship to enter or start cargo operation.

But if the ship has not entered into a P&I club, this would not make the ship unseaworthy.

Similarly for a ship to call a US port, it would need to have “Certificate of financial responsibility”.  If a vessel do not have this certificate, the US authorities do not allow the ship to operate in US waters.

Again, if a ship has been sailing at sea without this certificate will not be an unseaworthy ship. So these certificate even though not statutory, are mandatory to have on board.

Non-mandatory certificates

There are few certificates that are neither mandatory nor statutory. These can be called non-mandatory certificates.

If these certificates are not on board, this will neither make the ship unseaworthy nor will it hamper the ship operations. Garbage management certificate is one such example.

Though there is no requirement for a certificate for compliance with annex V of the Marpol, class sometime issues such certificate.

Conclusion

It is so important for us to know about ship’s certificates. Which certificates makes a ship seaworthy ? Which certificate if not available on board can delay the ship ?

Only when we know the importance of a certificate and implications for not having a certificate on board, we can timely alert our shore office.

Ship staff in general and masters in particular must be aware of what all certificates are statutory. That is the certificates that are required to be onboard by the law.

When we know this, we would know that taking a ship to sea without any of these certificate can have drastic implications.

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Capt Rajeev Jassal

About Capt Rajeev Jassal

Capt. Rajeev Jassal has sailed for over 19 years mainly on crude oil, product and chemical tankers. He holds MBA in shipping & Logistics degree from London. He has done extensive research on quantitatively measuring Safety culture onboard and safety climate ashore which he believes is the most important element for safer shipping.

51 Comments

Abhishek Kumar
Abhishek Kumar
Oct 30, 2016

Thanks a lot sir.Certificate thing is crystal clear now.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Oct 31, 2016

Glad you found it useful Abhishek..

vijeesh kumar C
vijeesh kumar C
Oct 30, 2016

Thanks a lot sir...some of the surveyors in mmd saying that 4 more annexs came into force in marpol.total there are 10 annexes in marpol.....but its not given in any websites..is this information right?

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Oct 31, 2016

Right now there are only 6 annexes to the Marpol.

capt.m.shahinfar
capt.m.shahinfar
Oct 31, 2016

thanks sir, found it very useful .

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Oct 31, 2016

Glad you found it useful Capt Shahinfar..

Raman Kumar jha
Raman Kumar jha
Oct 31, 2016

Dear Sir, Million of thanks to u for sharing us valuable knowledge. God always bless you sir.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Oct 31, 2016

Thanks you Raman..Feel free to post any question you may have anytime on our new section Questions...

Nitin singh
Nitin singh
Oct 31, 2016

Excellent article captain sir , really useful information!

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Nov 1, 2016

Glad you found it useful Nitin..

Mohammad Khurshed Khan
Mohammad Khurshed Khan
Nov 3, 2016

Keep the good work going.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Nov 3, 2016

Thank you Mohammad..

K  K Kadali
K K Kadali
Nov 13, 2016

Capt. Sab really thankful for a very very useful information, the explanation with example is really impressive. Thank you once again

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Nov 17, 2016

Thanks Kadali..

Neeraj Pandey
Neeraj Pandey
Nov 25, 2016

Sir, this beautifully explained simple yet complete and profoundly explained, sir kindly also explain tonnage convention in this blog then it would be great, I think this will come under statutory cert.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Nov 26, 2016

For Certificate part, yes it is a statutory certificate.

Md Ayub Hussain
Md Ayub Hussain
Nov 25, 2016

Superb explanation....Capt Sir..

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Nov 26, 2016

Thanks Ayub..

ANURAG
ANURAG
Dec 13, 2016

Why ships need to have a certificate of class??Is is required only for Insurance purpose??

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Dec 15, 2016

SOLAS Chapter II, Reg 3-1 requires that ships need to be designed, constructed and maintained as per the requirements of the classification society or as per applicable national standards of the flag. Most of the flags do not have their own set standards for construction of ships. Most of the flags rather go with the first options that is "as per the standards of classification society". So we can say that Certificate of class is required as per SOLAS chapter II, Reg 3-1.

R k singh
R k singh
Dec 20, 2016

Sir...I don't have any word to say about this explanation.but one thing I want to tell u sir ..u explain in very simple words which help me lot ...thnxxx a lot sir ......ur effort sir

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Dec 29, 2016

Glad you found it useful RK..

muhammad imran
muhammad imran
Dec 27, 2016

sir, many thanks for above info on certificates, could you please explain the magnetic compass its correction as iam preparing for master orals and worried about magnetic compass.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Dec 29, 2016

I will write on magnetic compass shortly Imran..

Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar
Jan 2, 2017

Thank you very much sir, it is really very useful information.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Jan 13, 2017

Glad you found it useful Amit..

Vignesh Narayanasamy
Vignesh Narayanasamy
Feb 1, 2017

Thank you very much sir, it is really very useful information.Is certificate of class mandatory or statutory ..... as u mentioned ship can built with national regulations without class..

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Feb 1, 2017

Glad you found it useful Vignesh.. Regarding your question, I have answered this in detail here. Is Class a Statutory certificate or Mandatory Certificate ?

psaxena
psaxena
Feb 18, 2017

Thank u sir for such an explanation.would like to know list of certificates for oil tanker

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Mar 1, 2017

Apart from other common certificates, Oil tankers will have certificates like CLC, IOPP with Form B.

Harbinder Singh
Harbinder Singh
Feb 28, 2017

thank you very much sir, really knowledgeable information...

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Mar 1, 2017

Glad to hear that Harbinder..

Suraj Yadav
Suraj Yadav
Mar 3, 2017

sir if company has same type of 2 vsl register under 2 different flag state den how many doc she will have 1 or 2. pls if u can ans. thx a lot.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Apr 11, 2017

2. The Document of compliance is issued on behalf of the flag. So if company is managing vessels for two flags, they need to have DOC from both the flags.

AbdelNasser AlSheikhYousef
AbdelNasser AlSheikhYousef
Apr 1, 2017

Excellent article captain, really simple and useful information. keep going, God Bless you.

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Apr 11, 2017

Glad you liked it..

Rajeewa Wickramahewage
Rajeewa Wickramahewage
Apr 10, 2017

It was a good explanation and good work. thank you very much for your good work

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Apr 11, 2017

Thanks Rajeewa...

Pulkit
Pulkit
Apr 22, 2017

Excellent article Sir. Thanks

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Jun 8, 2017

Glad you liked it Pulkit...

SUSHANT
SUSHANT
May 7, 2017

Wht is the difference between statutory and mandatory surveys

Aakash Kumar
Aakash Kumar
May 19, 2017

Sir please give more example of Mandatory Certificate

Harminder
Harminder
May 21, 2017

Sir what is non trading certificate? Give example?

thomas george
thomas george
Jun 8, 2017

excellent article sir.....please clarify one doubt.... suppose I am sailing on a ship whose flag has not ratified SOLAS convention. But my ship, require these mandatory certificates for international trade. in this case who will issue solas related certificates? can flag delegate it to Class/ RO without ratifying a convention?

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Jun 9, 2017

In this case, the class will issue the "Statement of Compliance". So for safety equipment certificate, the class will issue "Statement of compliance with cargo ship safety equipment". This is a statement from the class that ship complies with the elements of safety equipment required as per SOLAS. Same will be for other certificates.

thomas george
thomas george
16 hours ago

a BIG thanks for you....

Md Raihan
Md Raihan
Jun 13, 2017

Great!!!! Thanks a lot!!

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
Jun 23, 2017

Thanks, Md Raihan...

Am
Am
Jun 19, 2017

sir can u explain why most convention is for 500GT ships? why 500 GT? thanks

Kevin  D.
Kevin D.
Jun 23, 2017

thanks for the info Capt. Jassal

narendra
narendra
Jun 28, 2017

thanks capt. jassal

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