IBC and MARPOL Annex II changes require preparations ahead of 1 January 2021


Amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) and International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL) Annex II - Carriage of noxious liquid substances in bulk, will impact all stakeholders in the chemical and Vegetable oils trade. As the amendments enter into force on 1 January 2021, It is recommended that ships replace existing certificates as soon as possible, to make sure the vessels are operational come 1 January.

The amendment to the IBC Code in particular is very comprehensive and as a consequence, a new Certificate of Fitness (CoF) for a vessel must be issued and be on board at the latest on 1 January 2021. On that date, the new Certificate of Fitness (CoF) shall replace the existing one and therefore, it is highly recommended to have the new certificate on board as soon as possible, to make sure the vessel will be operational come 1. January 2021.

The reason why a new CoF shall be issued is that the classification of the substances listed in the IBC Code chapter 17 and 18 has been “harmonized”, so that substances assessed before and after 2004 are now using the same criteria.

The classification societies have of course been aware of this task since the amendment to IBC Code was adopted and they have duly informed their members.


Chapter 17 of the IBC Code is a “Summary of minimum requirements” and here we will for example find requirements to ship type for all the substances listed in chapter 17. There are three ship type requirements: ship type 1 is the strictest, ship type 2 is less strict and ship type 3 is even less strict. Chapter 17 will also give the MARPOL Annex II pollution category X, Y or Z. A category X substance will require high attention in order to avoid pollution of the oceans and category X will always require a prewash before the vessel leaves the port of unloading.

Chapter 17 will also indicate with “T” in column (k) whether a substance is considered a “Toxic” substance. It is a requirement in IBC code that when a vessel carries a toxic substance, an instrument for vapour-detection must be on board. Many toxic cargoes will also have higher requirements to stowage and segregation from oil fuel tanks as well as requirements to cargo tank relief-valve settings than “Non Toxic” cargoes.

Chapter 18 of the IBC Code is a “List of products to which the Code does not apply” and substances from chapter 18 can in fact be carried on any tanker. However, a number of cargoes listed in chapter 18 will be given MARPOL Annex II pollution category Z and the discharge of tankwashings shall then be governed by MARPOL Annex II.

The amendment to MARPOL Annex II will include a new definition on a so-called “Persistent floater”, and Regulation 13 – Control of discharges of residues of noxious liquid substances, will now require a mandatory prewash after unloading of persistent floaters when the port of unloading is located inside certain regional areas, according to new regulation in MARPOL Annex II. The regional areas are listed in regulation 13.9 and include more or less the ports north of Gibraltar and east of the west coast of Ireland, and ports in the North, Norwegian and Baltic Seas. The “persistent floaters” are identified in Chapter 17 of the IBC Code with a new paragraph 16.2.7 in column (o).

Some of the consequences of the amendments

Some 50 cargoes will change (upgrade) their ship type requirement from ship type 3 to ship type 2, or from ship type 2 and up to ship type 1. More than a handful cargoes from chapter 18 will move to chapter 17 and will no longer be allowed to be carried on tankers not having a CoF.

Around 35 cargoes will go the opposite way and downgrade from a higher ship type to a lower one.

A few cargoes will change their pollution category – some will have a stricter category while some will go the opposite way.

More than 220 cargoes will now be added to the current cargoes having the “T” in IBC code column (k). Such cargoes require vapor-detection instruments on board.

It is important to note that 45 cargoes with pollution category Y will in column “o” in IBC Code have reference to chapter 16.2.7. Therefore, they are “persistent floaters” and subject to mandatory prewash when they are unloaded inside certain regional areas, according to the new regulation in MARPOL Annex II. When unloaded outside the areas listed in MARPOL Annex II regulation 13.9, the discharge of tank cleaning water can be as for any other pollution category Y cargo taking cargo viscosity, melting point and unloading temperature into consideration.

All vessels that can carry a cargo with a pollution category X, Y or Z shall have a “Procedures and Arrangements Manual” (P&A manual) on board. When such a vessel can carry a “persistent floater”, the P&A manual shall include a new paragraph 4.4.5 giving procedures relating to the cleaning of cargo tanks after unloading persistent floaters inside certain regional areas, according to the new regulation in MARPOL Annex II. Therefore, P&A manuals on board all ships shall be amended before 1 January 2021.


All ships must have a new Certificate of Fitness on board and in use from 1. January 2021. Cargoes loaded prior to 1. January 2021 can be carried and unloaded according to the requirements in force at the date of loading.

Be prepared to supply the ships with specific vapor-detection instruments for further toxic cargoes. Additionally, all ships shall have adjusted their P&A manual to include procedures for prewash after persistent floaters.

Be prepared to face lack of prewash shore reception facilities in ports in regions where it is required to perform a prewash after unloading persistent floaters.

MARPOL Annex II regulation 13.4 may exempt for mandatory prewash when the unloaded tank is to be reloaded with the same substance, or another substance compatible with the previous one, and the tank will not be washed prior to loading. However, when such an exemption has been granted, the appropriate entry made in the Cargo record Book shall be endorsed by an authorized surveyor (so-called “Annex II-surveyor”). As persistent floaters – typical various Vegetable oils (vegoils) will require a mandatory prewash when unloaded in accordance with the new MARPOL Annex II regulation It might however prove difficult to find an authorized surveyor to grant the exemption from the mandatory prewash as this is a “new” situation. Vegoils are often loaded on ships on consecutive voyages, and if the voyages are inside the regional areas where prewash after persistent floaters is required, and the tanks are not washed but shall be reloaded with the same product, it will be relevant to apply for an exemption for mandatory prewash. 


Peter Lundahl Rasmussen
in Copenhagen, DK


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