Compliance with ISPS (International Ship and Port Facilities Security) Code

How ISPS Impacts Marine Transportation in Canada

  • On July 1, 2004, Transport Canada’s new Marine Transportation Security Regulations (MTSR) came into effect. They are designed to strengthen security requirements for vessels, marine facilities and ports so that they are in compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s ISPS Code. See for details.
  • The Code requires that all commercial vessels of 500 tons* (gross tonnage) or more, or carrying more than 12 passengers and travelling between countries, and marine facilities serving such vessels, perform security assessments, complete security plans and designate security officers. The MTSR extends the ISPS code requirements to port facilities in Canada, cargo vessels of 100 tons (gross tonnage) or more and towing vessels greater than eight metres in length that tow barges carrying dangerous goods in bulk.
  • See for more information.

*The 500 tons limit applies to ships conforming to the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) convention. The limit is 100 tons for non-SOLAS ships.

ISPS and the St. Lawrence Seaway

  • On June 4, 2004, Marine Facilities Security Plans submitted by The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation’s (SLSMC) were approved by Transport Canada and Certificates of Compliance were issued indicating that SLSMC’s facilities conform to the requirements of the ISPS code.
  • In order to receive certification, potential threats to Seaway facilities were identified and plans prepared for dealing with security vulnerabilities.
  • Security at SLSMC’s facilities has been enhanced by improved fencing, gates, locks, cameras, and signage.
  • Access to site controls apply to employees, contractors, visitors, ships’ crews and suppliers.
  • Restricted areas are defined in locks including control kiosks, machine rooms, wall towers and alongside ships.
  • Training is provided to employees on an ongoing basis.
  • Security audits and exercises to test the components of the security plan are conducted.
  • SLSMC is working closely with Transport Canada, the U.S. Coast Guard and SLSDC to develop a coordinated approach to initial security verification and examination of ships that will have a minimal impact on the vessel transit.

How the ISPS Code Affects Ships entering the St. Lawrence Seaway

  • As of July 1, 2004, all SOLAS ships wishing to enter Canadian waters will be required to have ISPS Certification. SOLAS ships already in Canadian waters on July 1 will be expected to demonstrate ISPS compliance prior to their departure from Canada.
  • For detailed information, see Canadian ISPS Implementation

Initial Verification

As of July 1, 2004, all foreign ships entering the St. Lawrence Seaway will be boarded at Montreal by inspectors from Transport Canada Marine Security and the U.S. Coast Guard. Seaway inspectors will accompany them. Ships that have undergone an initial verification by Transport Canada Marine Security for the purpose of regulatory compliance will be permitted to proceed into the Seaway. The verification is expected to take 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Ships that have undergone a compliance exam by the U.S. Coast Guard between April and June 30, 2004 and received a “Compliance Letter” will not have to undergo this initial verification upon their first entry into the Seaway on or after July 1st.

Status of the ESI

Ships that have stopped at Montreal and undergone the ESI (Enhanced Seaway Inspection) between March 24 and July 1, 2004 will have to undergo this initial Security verification upon their first entry into the Seaway on or after July 1st unless they have already been issued a U.S. Coast Guard Compliance Letter. For all foreign ships entering the Seaway for the first time on or after July 1, 2004, the added security elements will become part of the ESI.

Canada – U.S. Protocol

Canada and the United States are preparing a bilateral protocol that will formalize arrangements for a joint targeting initiative and mutual recognition of compliance and inspection efforts. Further details of this arrangement will be available soon.

Other Marine Security actions taken by the Government of Canada since September 11, 2001

  • Harmonizing the marine security regimes of Canada and the U.S. so that Canadian-flagged ships that meet Canadian security standards can enter U.S. harbours and U.S.-flagged vessels that meet U.S. standards can enter Canadian harbours.
  • Requiring vessels to provide at least 96 hours advance notice before they enter Canadian waters.
  • Introducing new boarding protocols to improve the response to threats before vessels arrive at Canadian marine facilities or ports.
  • Establishing enhanced security procedures, in partnership with the United States, for vessels entering the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway system.
  • Working with international partners to develop new marine international security requirements.
  • Committing $172.5 million for a broad range of initiatives to enhance the security of Canada’s marine transportation system and maritime borders including the use of aerial surveillance and vessel monitoring systems such as AIS to enhance Canada’s ability to track vessels entering and operating in Canadian waters.