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Cargo regulations

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) governs the agreed minimum requirements for handling and transport of cargoes and dangerous goods.

We implement the IMO agreed international minimum requirements in Australia for all safety-related aspects of the handling and transport of cargoes and dangerous goods.

International maritime solid bulk cargoes (IMSBC) code 2020 edition

The 2020 edition of the IMSBC code is available from IMO publications. Check their publications catalogue for details. The IMSBC Code is given effect in Australia by Marine Order 34.

The 2020 edition (including the 05-19 amendments) is in mandatory effect in Australia from 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2022.  

International maritime dangerous goods (IMDG) code 2018 and 2020 editions

The 2018 and 2020 editions of the IMDG code are available from IMO publications. Check their publications catalogue for details. The IMDG Code is given effect in Australia by Marine Order 41.

The 2018 edition (including the 39-18 amendments) is in mandatory effect in Australia from 1 January 2020 until 31 December 2021.  

The 2020 edition (including the 40-20 amendments) is in recommendatory effect in Australia from date of publication until 31 May 2022. It will then be in mandatory effect from 1 June 2022 until 31 December 2023.

Note: COVID-19 delayed the publication of the 2020 edition of the IMDG Code hence it will not be in mandatory effect from 1 January 2022. In Australia the edition of the IMDG Code in recommendatory effect may be used as if it was in mandatory effect in accordance with Marine Order 41.

Dangerous goods training for shore-side personnel

Shore-side personnel must receive general and function-specific training if they are engaged in any of the shipping activities of dangerous goods.

The activities include:

  • packing dangerous goods in packages 
  • marking, labelling or placarding dangerous goods
  • loading or unloading cargo transport units 
  • preparing transport documents for dangerous goods.

See chapter 1.3 of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code and section 21 of Marine Order 41 for details:

We recommend that all other shore-based staff engaged in the shipment of dangerous goods are trained to the standards specified in the IMDG code. We have ‘accepted’ a range of courses that may be used to comply with this requirement:

We publish the Dangerous, harmful and hazardous cargoes handbook third edition, which is both a training aid and a practical guide to compliance. It can be purchased from us for A$20 plus GST and postage, or for orders of 100 or more A$15 plus GST and postage.

Verified gross mass of containers

The shipper is responsible for verifying the gross mass (VGM) of a container and stating this VGM on the maritime shipping documents. The shipper can use either:

  • Method 1—weighing the fully laden (packed) container
  • Method 2—weighing the cargo, and adding the weight of the empty container (tare).

Weighing equipment used must meet standards of accuracy prescribed in the applicable legislation.

All containers being shipped from Australia must have a declared VGM on the maritime shipping documents.

Containers without a VGM on the maritime shipping documents cannot be loaded.

    Last updated: 

    Friday 15 January 2021