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  • Writer's pictureDarius Aga

CSC Convention and Certification of Intermodal Freight Containers

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

In the 1960s, there was a rapid increase in the use of shipping containers for the consignment of goods by sea and the development of specialised container ships. Therefore, in 1967, the IMO decided to study the safety of containerisation in marine transport. The 1972 International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC 1972) was adopted at a conference jointly convened by the United Nations and IMO. The International Convention for Safe Containers came into force on 6th September 1977.

What is a CSC certificate & why do shipping containers require it?

A CSC certificate is a certificate issued to a container that complies with all the regulations of the convention and is therefore safe to be loaded on to a container ship. All containers that are to be transported on a container vessel are required to have a CSC certificate.

Important Definitions

Before reading further, let us understand the definition of a few important words that are used throughout the convention.

- Administration : The Government of a contracting party under whose authority containers are approved.

- Approved : Approved by the Administration

- Contracting Party : A Country or State that has passed the necessary legislation to enact the Convention.

- Owner : The owner as provided for under the national law of the Contracting Party or the lessee or bailee, if an agreement between the parties provides for the exercise of the owner’s responsibility for maintenance and examination of the container by such lessee or bailee.

What is the CSC Convention?

The convention has 2 goals:

  • To maintain a high level of safety of human life in the transport and handling of containers by providing generally acceptable test procedures related to strength requirements, which have proven adequate over the years.

  • To facilitate the international transport of containers by providing uniform international safety regulations, equally applicable to all modes of transport. In this way, proliferation of divergent national safety regulations can be avoided.

The scope of the convention is limited to containers of a prescribed minimum size having corner fittings.

The convention states the procedures whereby containers must be safety approved by the Administration of a Contracting Party or by an Organisation acting on its behalf. The Administration, or an Organisation authorised by it, will then authorise the manufacturer to affix a Safety Approval Plate containing the relevant technical data.

India is also a contracting party to the Convention.

Who is responsible for ensuring that a container is safe?

The maintenance of a safety approved container is the responsibility of the owner, who is required to have the container periodically examined. The owner of an approved container shall examine the container, or have it examined in accordance with the procedure either prescribed or approved by the Contracting Party concerned.

Who is responsible for the enforcement of testing, inspection, approval & maintenance regulations of containers?

Every Administration shall establish a procedure for the testing, inspection and approval of containers in accordance with the criteria established in the Convention. An Administration may entrust such testing, inspection and approval to organisations duly recognised by it. In most cases, these organisations are classification societies, such as Bureau Veritas that is approved by several Administrations.

An Administration which entrusts these activities to an organisation shall inform the Secretary General of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation for communication to Contracting Parties.

If an approved container does not comply with the requirements of Annexes I and II, the Administration concerned shall take such steps as it deems necessary to bring the container into compliance with such requirements or to withdraw the approval.

Types of CSC examination systems

  1. Periodic Examination Scheme (PES)

  • 1st examination should be carried out within 5 years from initial examination date.

  • All subsequent examinations should be carried out at intervals not exceeding 30 months.

2. Alternate Continuous Examination Programme (ACEP)

  • The contracting party concerned may approve an ACEP if satisfied, on evidence submitted by the owner, that such a programme provides a standard of safety not inferior to the PES.

  • Examinations shall determine whether a container has any defects that could place any person in danger. They shall be performed in connection with a major repair, refurbishment or on-hire/ off-hire interchange and in no case less than once in every 30 months.​

How can a certificate issued by an Organisation be accepted in India if the Organisation is not approved by India?

The approval evidenced by the Safety Approval Plate granted by one Contracting Party should be recognised by other Contracting Parties. This principle of reciprocal acceptance of safety approved containers constitutes the cornerstone of the Convention.

Approval under the authority of a Contracting Party, shall be accepted by other Contracting Parties for all purposes covered by the Convention. It shall be regarded by other Contracting parties as having the same force as an approval issued by them.

Additionally, in the event that the owner has his head office in a country (like India), the government of which has not yet made arrangements for prescribing or approving an examination scheme, the owner may use the procedure approved by the Administration of a Contracting Party which is prepared to act as the Contracting Party of the concerned.


(1) The International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972

(2) IMO Circular - CSC.1 / Circ.156 dated 14th February 2017

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