Nowadays, maritime transport is more than ever vulnerable to attacks. Terrorist actions and the current geopolitical factors have brought about the need for new, bolder initiatives. Stronger measures of maritime security are required to protect lives and to increase confidence in the shipping companies. Secondly, given the importance of maritime transport within the economy, these actions are vital for economic reasons.

That’s why the International Maritime Organisation ‘IMO' adopted an international regulation in 2002: the ISPS code. This code has been transposed into the Belgian legislation on June 15th, 2004 and contains a set of compulsory maritime regulations designed to help the maritime operators to detect and discourage threats to international security. In order to comply with the ISPS code, all shipping lines are expected to adopt a security plan and to make material arrangements against terrorist attacks, based on a formerly performed risk assessment. Sea vessels are forced to take similar security measures, as well.

What does this code apply to?

These special requirements to enhance maritime security apply to:

· Passenger ships engaged on international voyages
· Cargo ships over 500 gross tonnage, engaged on international voyages
· Mobile offshore drilling units
· But also to all the port facilities that serve them

Security levels

The ISPS Code is based on three security levels. In case of elevated risk the security level is raised. Ships and terminals are then required to take extra protective security measures.

Security Level 1: The normal situation, with a number of standard protective security measures.
Security Level 2: There is an elevated risk of a security incident. Additional protective security measures are increased.
Security Level 3: A security incident is likely to occur. Additional specific protective security measures are taken.

These security levels are set by the government. As regards the ocean-going ships, the level is set by the flag state. In the terminals, the government of the country in question will determine the level.

Objectives of the code and the required safety plan.

The main objective is to detect and assess security threats. Furthermore, the aim is to take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships and port facilities involved in international trade, to establish rules for and responsibilities of the parties concerned, to gather and exchange security related information, to ensure plans and procedures are in place to cope with changing security levels. Finally, it wants to enhance confidence.


The ISPS code related costs are to be distributed among the public and private sectors to avoid distortion of competition. As a result of the above, a new charge is being introduced, i.e. the ISPS Terminal Security Charges, which will be applied to all our trades.

Please rest assured that there is no intention whatsoever to make profit out of the application of this new fee.

The levels of the ISPS charge will be reviewed over the next few weeks. It goes without saying that we will keep you fully informed of any changes that will be applied.


For any further information you can always contact Erik Van Goethem: +32 (0)3 213 94 12 or by e-mail: erik [dot] vangoethem [at] gondrand [dot] be