The ISPS (International Shipping Security System) is a global standard of security for the shipping industry. It is designed to provide standards of security that should be adhered to by the shipping sector in the interests of ensuring operational security for commercial vessels. The ISPS Code is an international agreement for minimum security requirements for all vessels, coastal and inland. Adopting the ISPS Code reduces the risks to shipping companies while complying with the legal obligations of governments and international regulations set forth in the International Shipping Code.
The International Ship and Port Security Code are a revision of the Security of Life in Sea Convention adopted by the ICHS Security Convention, which is a legally binding international agreement covering all aspects of the transportation of cargo by sea and air. The ISPS Code stipulates rules and regulations for all ships, vessels and ferry services for goods or items for commercial or peaceful purposes. The International Ship and Havenbeveiliging also provide for the registration and licensing of ships and also the supervision and inspection of these ships. The Code establishes rules and procedures for preventing damage or loss to ships, their contents and the property of the owners while in transit and at sea.
There are three bodies that have jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of the ISPS Code. These are the Commission on International and Trans-shore Maritime Security (CITES), the ISPS Board of Certification and Standards (ISBS) and the United Nations Office for the Control of Pollution Victims Compensation (OCPCV). Some members of the commission to participate under the mandate of other bodies such as the World Transport Organization (WTO). The OCPCV is a United Nations body that aims to achieve global harmonization of safety in the transport of chemicals, bulk fuel and corrosives. All ships carrying hazardous materials need to be registered with the respective authorities; ships without a registration must register with the nearest regional office of the ISPS.
Ships approaching or leaving the harbors of a country must have certificates from the local Department of Revenue; a Certificate of Registration (COQR) is needed for all vessels that can also be issued with a registration number if the owner presents a valid passport. Vessels that are involved in criminal activities or that are in default of payments of dues towards government taxes and dues towards the port of origin are required to be seized and brought back to the port. For the vessels that are not registered, they are required to undergo a registration procedure at the nearest port.
The regulation of this type of security service is implemented and regulated by the law of the country of origin. Ships coming from foreign countries need to go through the customs inspection before they leave the docks. They are inspected to ensure compliance with international standards set by the ISPS. If a ship is found to be in breach of any of these standards, it will need to be returned to its place of departure. Any violations lead to fines and to jail terms if the offending ship is not returned to its place of departure within the prescribed time.