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Maritime safety: port State control

Maritime safety: port State control



Directive 2009/16/EC on port State control


  • It aims to reduce substandard shipping in EU waters by:
    • ensuring ships respect EU and international maritime safety and environmental rules;
    • establishing common criteria for ship inspections.
  • It recasts Directive 95/21/EC on port State control of shipping which had been substantially amended several times.


  • The legislation applies to any eligible ship and its crew calling at, or anchored in, an EU port.
  • EU governments must ensure they have a sufficient number of qualified inspectors with the necessary resources to carry out the inspections.
  • All eligible ships using an EU port are given a risk profile in the THETIS inspection database. This is based on criteria such as the type and age of a vessel, and determines the thoroughness and frequency of the inspections.
  • To make the planning of inspections easier, THETIS is linked to the SafeSeaNet system which provides information on ships in, or expected at, all EU ports.
  • Annual inspections are compulsory for ships with a high-risk profile and are optional for others.
  • Priority is given to inspecting vessels that infrequently dock at EU ports.
  • Initial inspections check that certificates and documents are in order and assess a ship’s overall condition.
  • If deficiencies are discovered, the ship is subject to a more detailed inspection.
  • More detailed inspections are reserved for high-risk profile vessels, passenger ships, and oil, gas, chemical and bulk carriers over 12 years of age.
  • Any deficiencies discovered must be rectified. If these are clearly a risk to safety, health or the environment, the vessel is detained until they are made good.
  • National authorities may refuse port access to ships which have been detained more than twice during the previous 2 to 3 years.
  • Shipowners or operators may appeal against any detention or refusal of access.
  • The European Commission maintains and updates the inspection database. It regularly publishes details of companies with low or very low compliance rates on the THETIS website.
  • The legislation does not cover:
    • fishing or naval support vessels;
    • warships;
    • certain types of wooden ships; or
    • private yachts.
  • The directive was amended by Directive (EU) 2017/2110 which widens the scope of Directive 2009/16/EC to include inspections of ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) passenger ships and high-speed passenger ships in regular service. Before these ships start to operate on a regular service, the relevant authorities must inspect them to ensure that they fulfil the requirements for the safe operation of a regular service. If a ship has been inspected by another EU country within the previous 8 months and deemed satisfactory to safely operate a regular service, the ship does not need to undergo a further inspection.


It has applied since 17 June 2009. Directive 2009/16/EC revised and replaced Directive 95/21/EC (and its subsequent amendments). The new rules contained in Directive 2009/16/EC had to become law in the EU countries by 2010.


For more information, see:


Directive 2009/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on port State control (Recast) (OJ L 131, 28.5.2009, pp. 57-100)

Successive amendments to Directive 2009/16/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Directive (EU) 2017/2110 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2017 on a system of inspections for the safe operation of ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft in regular service and amending Directive 2009/16/EC and repealing Council Directive 1999/35/EC (OJ L 315, 30.11.2017, pp. 61-77)

last update 16.01.2019