Multi-Lateral Summaries > International Maritime Organization (IMO)

IMO’s main task has been to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping, and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.

IMO seeks to ensure that measures to promote safe, secure, and environmentally sound shipping do not unduly affect the efficiency of shipping, and constantly reviews such measures to ensure their adequacy.

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TCB-related programme

The work of IMO to regulate and facilitate shipping activities contributes directly to building trade capacity.

To ensure the implementation of IMO regulations and standards, IMO offers, through its Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme, technical assistance in the form of field missions to draft domestic maritime legislation as well as national and regional seminars on maritime legislation.

The Facilitation Committee deals with the elimination of unnecessary formalities and red tape in international shipping. The Convention on the Facilitation of Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) was adopted on 9 April 1965 and entered into force on 5 March 1967. The purpose of this Convention is to facilitate maritime transport by simplifying and minimizing the formalities, documentary requirements and procedures associated with the arrival, stay and departure of ships engaged in international voyages. It was originally developed to meet growing international concern about excessive documents required for merchant shipping. Traditionally, large numbers of documents are required by customs, immigration, health and other public authorities pertaining to the ship, its crew and passengers, baggage, cargo and mail. Unnecessary paperwork is a problem in most industries, but the potential for red tape is probably greater in shipping than in other industries because of its international nature and the traditional acceptance of formalities and procedures.

The Convention emphasizes the importance of facilitating maritime traffic and demonstrates why authorities and operators concerned with documents should adopt the standardized documentation system developed by IMO and recommended by its Assembly for worldwide use. Contracting parties to the Convention undertake to bring about uniformity and simplicity to facilitate international maritime traffic.

TCB activities in this guide


  • IMO global regulations on safety and security of shipping and the prevention of pollution


  • Maritime traffic facilitation