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IMO Polar Code

The International Maritime Organization has adopted a mandatory Polar Code to provide for safe ship operation and environmental protection in the polar regions. If you operate a SOLAS or MARPOL ship in Arctic or Antarctic waters, then your ship will soon need to comply with all or part of this Code.

What is the purpose of the Polar Code?

The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code) is a new code adopted by the IMO. The Code acknowledges that polar waters may impose additional demands on ships beyond those normally encountered. It provides a mandatory framework for ships operating in polar waters. The main requirements are related to safety, protection of the environment, and seafarer competence, and it is implemented through amendments to SOLAS, MARPOL and the STCW.

Who does it apply to?

The Polar Code applies to ships, depending on their international certification requirements, as follows:

  • Part I safety requirements and Part I manning and training requirements apply to ships certified in accordance with SOLAS and which operate in polar waters.
  • Part II environmental protection requirements apply to ships that must comply with MARPOL and which operate in polar waters.

For non-SOLAS ships that are required to hold a MARPOL certificate (such as fishing vessels), only the Part II environmental protection requirements of the Polar Code apply.

When does the Code enters into force?

Timeline IMO Polar Code

Related downloads and links


Polar ship categories

Download the PDF and explore how the different Polar Ship categories are specified


Training requirements for ships operating in polar waters

Download the PDF providing an overview of requirements for different ship types