Maritime legislation

Whichever flag you fly under, and whatever type of shipping you use, you are subject to specific Maritime legislation.

It defines the safety conditions applicable to persons at sea, with respect to both navigation practices and ship design.

All states with a merchant navy belong to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which produced the Convention with which member states’ maritime legislation and practices are to comply.

In France, the “Affaires Maritimes” Department is responsible for applying the regulations. The Departmental order dated 23 November 1987 defines the regulation applicable to each type of ship, in accordance with the OMI Convention signed by France.

The regulations are updated regularly by complementary orders.

The regulations are divided up into several Divisions covering various types of ships (passenger ships, cargo ships, fishing boats…), as well as the safety equipment in the ships such as radionavigation apparatus, and environmental questions.

To find out more, in particular to find out which aspects are involved in your project, we advise you to visit this

Right from the design stage, all types of shipbuilding project should take the regulatory aspect into account.

Classification societies

The problems encountered over marine insurance were behind the creation of ship classification societies. Many years ago, in order to set insurance premiums, insurance companies had to be able to assess the dependability of the ships they were being asked to insure.

The Classification Societies are now grouped together within the IACS (International Association of Classification Societies)whose role is to take the most reliable criteria for assessing ship dependability and provide its members with a standard set of rules.

The following are the most well known Classification Societies:

All the Classification Societies have regulations used to assess ships to determine the dependability of their construction.

They can issue a Class which defines several levels of requirements for inspection, covering the whole vessel, or just certain parts (the hull, propulsion, electrical installations …).

A “Classified” ship has been given Lloyd’s Register status.

In France all ships over 24 metres in length have to be classed to obtain a navigation certificate from the French authorities, although this is not an explicit legal requirement. Classification is not a requirement for ships that are less than 24 metres long.

For smaller boats, the Classification Societies have a simplified construction survey procedure that they apply when assigning Free Board, a process they perform as representatives of the flag state (the “Affaires Maritimes” department in France).