The Code’s origin goes back to the late 80’s, when there was mounting concern about poor management standards in shipping. Investigations into accidents revealed major errors on the part of the management. In 1987 the Maritime Safety Committee was called to develop guidelines concerning shipboard and shore-based management to ensure the safe operation of ships. The Code requires each owning/ managing Company is to establish a Safety Management System (SMS) to ensure the safe operation of the ships under management. With the entry into force of the 1994 amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974, the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) has been made mandatory.


Trust pays off Starting from July 1, 1988, the ISM Code became applicable for passenger ships including passenger high-speed crafts, oil tankers, chemical tankers, gas carriers, bulk carriers and cargo high-speed craft of 500 gross tonnage and upwards. With respect to other cargo ships and mobile offshore drilling units of 500 gross tonnage and upwards, the ISM Code became applicable on the July 1, 2002.


MBS, through its well-established network of auditors, conducts audits on behalf of Flag Administrations and issues Document of Compliance to a company, and Safety Management Certificate to a vessel that complies with the ISM Code requirements.

Certification Process

The certification process relevant to a Document of Compliance for a Company and a Safety Management Certificate to a ship will normally involve the following steps:

  • Initial verification
  • Annual or intermediate verification
  • Renewal verification
  • Additional verification