International Ship And Port Facility Security Code The Ultimate FAQ Guide 1

International Ship And Port Facility Security Code: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

In this guide, you will find all information about international ship and port facility security code.

So if you want to learn more about ISPS, read this guide.

What Is ISPS?



ISPS is otherwise known as International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

It refers to a security measure established to fight insecurity and enhance the safety of ships, ports, and cargo.

The establishment of ISPS resulted from the realization that sea freight or transport was prone to risks just as air transport.

It awakened the idea of having specific security measures to handle ships and port facilities in case of attacks or threats.

When Was ISPS Code Adopted?

The International Ship and Port Facility Code were enacted on July 1st, 2004, by IMO.

It states the responsibilities to the shipping companies, the government, port staff, and shipboard workers to spot any threat.

The responsible bodies should also take preventive measures on the security of the port or the ship operating in international trade.

ISPS is applicable on all ships participating in international voyages, not excluding;

  • Cargos ships not less than 500GT
  • Voyager vessels and high-speed passenger craft
  • Amenities in the port used by the ships.
  • Mobile offshore drilling units.

What Are The Main Objectives Of The International Ship And Port Facility Security Code In Shipping?

Below are some of the goals that ISPS is aiming to achieve;

  • To observe people’s activities and cargo operations.
  • To identify any threats on onboard vessels and develop the necessary security measures suitable for the situation.
  • To put in place what roles and responsibilities will be played by the local administrators, government, national and international port industries.
  • To gather information about security threats faced in the marine industry and establish measures to handle them.
  • To identify any problems facing the security of the ports and ships and come up with solutions.
  • To facilitate efficient exchange of security data with other ports and ship owners’ networks globally.
  • To assign port state officers and onboard officers with their respective roles and responsibilities in handling international-level security threats.

Who Has To Comply To The ISPS Code?

Being part of SOLAS, the ISP’s code applies to all the 148 contracting parties to SOLAS required to comply with it. ISP’s code applies to;

  • Ships that are cruising internationally (this includes passenger ships and cargo ships having a lot less than 500GT, among others)
  • Port facilities that serve these ships.

What Is The Importance Of ISPS Code In Shipping?

The ISP’s code’s primary purpose is to ensure maritime threats posed on port facilities and ships are detected early and security actions are taken.

Aside from that, here are other benefits of the ISPS Code;

  • Enhance safety and security of port facilities and ships – This, in turn, reduces any risks as shipping vessels rarely have any protection weapons against piracy, stowaways, or terrorist attack.
    Therefore, the ISP’s code prevents the entry of explosives or weapons that might cause harm to ships and port facilities.
  • Provide a secure working environment for maritime workers and thus facilitate efficient and effective working conditions.
  • ISPS has an improved documentation process owing to the standard procedures everywhere.
  • With ISP’s code, the flow of cargo and personal access is better controlled and monitored.

What Are The Requirements Of the ISPS Code For Ships And Port Facilities?

To achieve secure and safe conditions on ships and ports the ISP’s code includes several functional requirements which are not limited to;

  • Go through all the data received.
  • Ensure that dangerous weapons, explosives, and incendiary devices have no access to the port facilities and the ships.
  • Plan and conduct training, exercise, and drills of the ship crew to familiarize them with security plans. This way, they shall be well prepared to handle any threats or incidents on time.
  • Collect all data regarding security from various contracting government agencies.
  • Come up with a proper security strategy after conducting an assessment on the security.
  • We establish the proper communication protocols for port facilities and ships to facilitate a smooth exchange of information.
  • Prevent any unauthorized person from gaining access into the port facility or ship and other prohibited areas. It will still apply even when the unauthorized party is not a threat. Any unauthorized person is regarded as a potential threat.
  • Come up with different ways of raising the alarm in case of a security threat or incident.

What Is The ISPS Code Meaning For Ships?

Mostly, there is a higher risk of experiencing security threats on cargo ships since they lack means of protection in an attack.

Such attacks can range from piracy, stowaways, and terrorist attacks, among others, and threaten the crew and the ship.

To pin down and curb such security incidents. The security of the ship should be enhanced. It is the responsibility of the administration as it evaluates and decides whether the ship security plan should be approved or not.

The same administration also analyzes amendments made to old plans and decides whether to approve them.

The company has the mandate to provide training. The certified officers can assess the security of the ship on board.  Do not forget that they are the only ones allowed to perform this task.

Timely evaluation of the security plan implemented for the ship allows identification of any shortcomings. It also helps to amend the current security plan for the ship.

After that company reviews, documents, retains, and accepts the evaluation or assessment of the ship’s security.

What Does ISPS Code For Port Facilities Cover?



The ISPS code for port facilities provides a framework used by port facilities and ships to collaborate to identify activities.

That otherwise poses a threat to maritime security.

ISP’s code covers the establishment of roles and responsibilities and the provision of methodologies used to assess security.

Additionally, the ISPS code provides ways to raise alarms as well as collect and assess data.

So generally, it covers security regarding any terrorist threats and incorporates robust risk management strategies.

What Are The Three Levels Of ISPS Security?

Security levels aim to explain current situations about security threats to a country together with its coastal region and ships that dock in the ports.

The port officials and ship cooperation are responsible for making decisions about these security levels based on the present state of security internationally.

The three levels of ISP’s security include;

Security Level 1

This level can be described as the average level at which the ships and ports operate. This level does not require a lot of security measures.

Some of the measures carried out at this level include;

  • Minimum entry to the ship is upheld every time.
  • Minimum security measures are maintained both in port and onboard.
  • Restricted areas are keenly observed at all times.
  • The ship and port operations are based on the security plan for the sip and port facility.

Supervision of the loading and unloading cargo and stores is done by the ship and port officials, ensuring minimum security criteria and access control.

Security Level 2

This level comes through when the security risk is heightened. At security level 2, extra security measures will be performed, including establishing SSP to protect against the heightened risk. Below are some of the measures carried out at level 2;

  • We are appointing extra patrolling personnel for the access areas.
  • It is setting aside an area that’s controlled on the shoreside of the ship.
  • By Conducting a full or partial search of the ship
  • Guiding all guests onboard.
  • We are carrying out more security briefings to the ship’s personnel regarding the security levels.

Security Level 3

In security level 3, additional security measures are put in place for an impending incident or one that has already occurred and must be maintained for some time.

As much as there might not be any particular target sighted, the security measure needs to be handled accordingly.

Some of the measures that have to be enacted are not limited to;

  • Eviction of the ship if need be.
  • We are restricting entry to a single controlled access point.
  • Keeping a close eye on how people move on board
  • Restricting entry only to authorized personnel.
  • By Canceling cargo operations and stores
  • Cancelling of embarkation and disembarkation

Who Is Responsible For Setting Security Levels Under The ISPS Code?

All security levels are agreed upon by the ship’s cooperation and the port officials maintaining the present state of security internationally.

The local government is responsible for putting in place the security level. To see to it that port states and ships are informed before accessing the port.

Does The International Ship And Port Facility Security Code Apply To All Ships?

The international ship and port facility security code doesn’t apply to all ships. Some of the ships excluded are not limited to;

  • Warships
  • Naval auxiliaries
  • Ships that are only used on non-commercial services controlled by the government.

Is ISPS Code Mandatory Or Voluntary?

To answer this question, we first must understand the three security levels and two parts of the ISPS Code. The parts are not limited to;

  • Part A – here, guidelines are mandatory to explain the employment of the company’s security officers, their ships, and port facilities that they call.
    It also includes requirements that government shipping companies and port officials need to adhere to.
    Additionally, several security issues are included. Such security issues are those that require to be factored in when preparing security plans for ships as well as port facilities.
  • Part B – ISPS Code part B guidelines are not mandatory. Nevertheless, several countries have made it compulsory in their respective national security regulations. Part B provisions guide the preparation and implementation of the above security plans. In short, it explains how the requirements can be met.

How Is ISPS Code Implemented In A Port Facility?

ISPS Code was implemented via chapter X1I-2 particular measure to improve the maritime security for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

In a port facility, the ISPS Code is implemented in the following ways;

Assessing The Ship’s Security

The main goal is to identify an impending threat to the company’s assets and develop measures to avert security incidents.

Tactical Planning

Prepare the development of the security plans for the company and ships and achieve its implementation.

Security Policy

Inform all employees about the security measures being implemented so that they are aware of how they are directly concerned by the implementation.

Security Responsibilities And Authority

Ensure that every person managing the security plan knows what’s expected of them.

The managing team comprises the ship security officer, Master in relation with the security officer of the port facility, and the one for the company.

Security Project Team

The main goal is to develop security plans and provide adequate measures to be taken under the project.

The aim is also to withstand any problems that could inhibit the success of the project.

Company Security Program

Should explain how the company’s security measures will be handled to protect the company’s personnel and assets.

Ship Security Plans

It explains how the security measures will protect and the ship despite the ship’s location.

Approval Of The Ship’s Security Plans

Its main goal is to ensure its security plan. Adheres to the set requirements by the contracting government as well as the ISPS Code

Training And Drills

The main objective is to develop ways to prevent potential threats from affecting seafaring personnel regarding port security and during sailing.

Final Assessment

The final assessment is done to ensure that the security plan is implemented.

It will be effective in enabling the company to meet the ISPS Code requirements and acquire its certification.

What Are ISPS Charges? And Who Pays For It?

It is fees that are billed by the shipping line to cover the security and safety of the ship, cargo, and staff.

The charges cover the planning and workforce and the equipment used to implement the ISPS Code.

The fee is billed to the customer by the shipping line, and it’s typically included in the freight quote. It is paid along with the freight.

Container depot

Container yard

What Is The Difference Between ISPS Code And ISM (International Safety Management)?

The difference between ISPS Code and ISM lies in their objectives.

ISM is aimed at ensuring the safety of the crew by averting human injuries and deaths.

By ensuring there’s no damage to the environment and property as well as safety at sea.

On the other hand, ISPS Code explicitly ensures the safety of port facilities and ships.

What Is ISPS Certificate?

An ISP’s certificate is a document that verifies your adherence to statutory security regulations contained in. The ISPS Code but also the Port Security Act and the European Regulation 724/2004.

ISPS Certificate

ISPS Certificate

What Is The Duration Of An International Ship Security Certificate?

The Certificate remains valid for five years as long as you perform at least one intermediate verification in the validity period.

What Happens To Ships And Ports That Are Not Compliant With The ISPS Code Requirements?

To begin with, if the ship doesn’t adhere to the requirements, it shouldn’t be granted the International Ship Security Certificates.

As these are security matters, every measure has to be upheld, and if not.

The respective contracting governments are required to cancel operations of ships and ports that are non-compliant.

The ships to be canceled also include those that have not met the stated guidelines per chapter XI-2.

As well as the International Ship and Port Security Code and are yet to be certified.

Any ship that’s required to adhere to requirements of ISPS Code and chapter XI-2 should also follow.

The compliance and control measures in another different port.

Who Are The Key Players In International Ship And Port Security Code?

The key players in ISPS Code are the ones to ensure that the safety measures are implemented on vessels and port facilities.

Below are the three key players in the ISPS Code;

  • Company Security Officer (CSO) – Ensures a proper assessment of the ship’s security. Additionally, the security officer is in charge of developing the ship security plan, handing it over for approval, and implementing it.
  • Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) – Not only does he implement but also develops and maintains the security plan of the port amenity. The CSO and SSO work closely together with the PFSO.
  • Ship Security Officer (SSO) – As the name implies, a ship security officer ensures that the ship is secure and implements the ship security plan. Additionally, he contacts the PFSO and CSO when need be.

What Is Declaration Of Security About Ship And Port Security?

A declaration typically involves more than one party.

Therefore, in our case a declaration of security is stating matters concerning security between two parties.

These two parties can either be a shipowner, and the other party can be a port or a different ship.

DoS is not used as often but only during high-risk situations when the port facility and ship urgently agree on a solution regarding the measures to be executed.

DoS needs to be filled under three circumstances, namely;

  • When the ship is being managed at a high-security level as compared to its calling port.
  • When a ship is calling a port that lacks a port facility security plan
  • When a ship is working at a high-security level compared to other ships, it is operating with.
  • When a ship is working with a ship lacking an approved ship security plan,
  • There has been a security threat to the ship or port facility.

What Are The Challenging Areas In ISPS Code Implementation?

Since its adoption in the year 2004, some questions concerning the ISPS Code have arisen. The relationship between the ISM and ISPS Code can be problematic regarding whether or not to consider safety or security.

A ship can be secured but unsafe, and this can result in the loss of the ship.

Also, lack of security might result in losses caused by piracy and other similar acts.

Another challenge might be the lack of an official monitoring process on the security problems since no audits are carried out.

In addition to that, a Ship Security Plan always includes confidential data.

This might affect the efficiency in making amendments and make it difficult to maintain or revise a Ship Security plan.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of the ISPS Code?

Some of the advantages of ISPS include the following;

  • Ensures improved control of the flow of cargo, personal access.
  • Provides a safe working environment for seafarers and port staff, thus creating favorable working conditions.
  • Better documentation process owing to the standardized procedures globally.
  • ISPS Code enhances the ship’s security and safety, thereby minimizing risks.

Aside from the advantages, ISPS Code also has some drawbacks which are not limited to;

  • Owing to the extra security-related tasks introduced to the work routine, the seafarers have additional work.
  • More paperwork as well as certification requirements,
  • Once the security level increases, the work progress becomes slower.
  • Increase in expenditures caused by shooting up of the ship’s operating costs for ISP’s implementation. This rising cost doesn’t exclude port costs since higher security levels result in a more extended port stay.
  • Extra administration work.

What are the challenges of the ISPS Code?

Regulations come with their challenges, and this doesn’t exclude the ISPS Code. Below are some of the challenges of the ISPS Code;

  • Some ports restrict cargo handling at security level 3 not unless there is a depreciation of the level.
  • Implementing the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code becomes challenging since not every crew is trained for ship security.
  • The rise of security level results in slow cargo operations, which affect port activities.
  • In addition to that, the implementation process is an added task that consumes a lot of time.
  • The crew’s daily activities are affected as it comes with extra security watch duties for them to handle.

What Are The Implications Of The ISPS Code Awareness?

ISPS Code has indirect impacts on ports. The impacts are categorized according to how they affect the;

  • Efficiency
  • Service price
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Manning
  • Checking process
  • Administration cost
  • Damage occurring
  • Lead time
  • Competitiveness
  • Effectiveness
  • Profit
  • Service level
  • Documentation

It’s worth noting that the ISPS Code has both positive and negative implications on port facilities and ships.

For instance, the ISPS Code generalizes the impacts. This might hinder the proper scope of research as it will be based on the combined parts of the port rather than addressing the impact on each service.

The general aspects are researched by analyzing the factors mentioned above.

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