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Maritime safety: organisations responsible for monitoring and inspecting vessels (recast)

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Maritime safety: organisations responsible for monitoring and inspecting vessels (recast)

In order to improve maritime safety and environmental protection, this Regulation establishes a harmonised framework of regulations and procedures applicable to organisations carrying out ship inspections and surveys.


Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations.


This Regulation defines the legal framework applicable to the recognition and activities of organisations responsible for carrying out ship inspections and surveys.

Granting recognition

Member States wishing to obtain recognition for an organisation must submit a request to the European Commission. Member States submitting the request and the Commission shall evaluate the request. In order to obtain recognition, the organisation must comply with minimum criteria. It must have a legal personality, professional excellence, experience, independence, be governed by a code of ethics and use a certified quality management system.

The legal entity which has been granted recognition is the parent entity of all legal entities that constitute the organisation. In certain justified cases, recognition may be limited to certain types of ships, ships of a certain size and also types of traffic, in accordance with the actual capacity of the organisation.

The Commission may require a recognised organisation to adopt preventive and remedial action if the organisation fails to fulfil the requirements or the minimum criteria laid down in this Regulation or when its performance in the areas of pollution prevention and safety has worsened significantly. The Member States which authorised the recognised organisation shall be given advance notice by the Commission of the measures it has decided to take.

Fines and periodic penalty payments

The Commission may impose fines on a recognised organisation:

  • when there has been a serious or repeated failure to meet the minimum criteria or obligations set out in the Regulation or when the organisation’s bad performance is due to serious internal failures;
  • when it has deliberately sent incorrect or incomplete information to the Commission.

The Commission may decide to issue periodic penalty payments against the recognised organisation if it does not implement the required remedial and preventive measures.

The fines and periodic penalty payments shall be proportionate and dissuasive. Their aggregate amount shall not exceed 5 % of the total average turnover of the organisation in the preceding three years.

Withdrawal of recognition

The Commission may decide, upon request from a Member State or upon its own initiative, to withdraw recognition as a result of serious and repeated failure to meet the minimum criteria or requirements of this Regulation, or poor performance when one or the other constitutes an unacceptable threat to safety.

Assessment of organisations

The Commission together with the Member State which submitted the request for recognition shall assess the recognised organisations at least every two years. The assessors must check that the organisation complies with the requirements and criteria of the Regulation, paying special attention to safety, pollution prevention and casualty records. Member States shall be informed of the results of the assessment.

Rules and procedures

Recognised organisations are requested to consult with each other periodically with the aim of harmonising their rules and procedures and defining the conditions required for the mutual recognition of the class certificates issued for materials, equipment and components. Certificates of marine equipment conforming to Directive 96/98/EC must be recognised by recognised organisations for classification purposes.

Recognised organisations shall submit progress reports on matters related to harmonisation to the Commission and Member States. On the basis of these reports, the Commission will present a report to the European Parliament and the Council in 2014.

Creation of an independent quality assessment and certification entity

Recognised organisations must set up an independent quality assessment and certification entity by 17 June 2011. The entity shall be responsible for assessing and certifying the quality management systems of recognised organisations, and issuing interpretations of internationally recognised quality management standards. The work of the entity will be periodically assessed by the Commission.

This Regulation and Directive 2009/15/EC are a recast of Directive 94/57/EC.

Key terms of the Act

  • Rules and procedures: the technical standards produced by a recognised organisation for the design, construction, equipment, maintenance and survey of ships.
  • Recognised organisation: an organisation recognised in accordance with this Regulation.
  • Class certificate: a document issued by a recognised organisation certifying the fitness of a ship for a particular use or service in accordance with the rules and procedures laid down by that recognised organisation.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation No 391/2009/EC



OJ L 131 of 28.5.2009

Last updated: 25.09.2009