Marine Transportation Security Regulations (MTSR)

Transport Canada is the lead federal department responsible for the security of the Canadian marine transportation system. The section 221 of the MTSR (MTSR) apply to all ships, whether Canadian or foreign registered, SOLAS or non- SOLAS . The regulations specifically prohibit the carriage of weapons, explosives, or incendiaries on board a cruise ship. Exemptions may be granted for firearms intended for use in protecting passengers against polar bear attacks during shore excursions by contacting the appropriate RCMP office in writing.

The cruise ship operator is to ensure that pre-arrival information, found in section 221 of the MTSR , is reported to a Canadian Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre.

  1. if the duration of the segment of the voyage before entering Canadian waters is less than 24 hours, as soon as practicable before entering Canadian waters but no later than the time of departure from the last port of call;
  2. if the duration of the segment of the voyage before entering Canadian waters is less than 96 hours but more than 24 hours, at least 24 hours before entering Canadian waters; or
  3. at least 96 hours before entering Canadian waters.

Upon arrival at a Canadian port, a formal security inspection may be conducted.

International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS)

The Canadian regulations are based on the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) . Through it, ships and port facilities can cooperate to detect and deter acts that pose a threat to maritime security. A copy of the code can be found on the International Maritime Organization website.

Tuktoyaktuk and Churchill are currently the only port facilities in Canadian Arctic waters that are ISPS compliant. These ports are not specifically designed or suitable for cruise ships. At these sites, and wherever passengers are tendered ashore using the ship’s boats, it is the responsibility of the cruise ship operator to ensure appropriate security screening of passengers and crew.

It is the responsibility of the cruise operator or owner to arrange proper security measures for the vessel. Operators should contact Transport Canada Security in Ottawa with details of their planned activities for further information on specific requirements.

Security Levels

At all MARSEC levels, the cruise ship operator will establish security patrols and searches of selected areas before passengers embark and before the vessel gets underway. When the MARSEC level is raised to MARSEC level 3, the vessel security officer will provided security briefs to the passengers about the security threat that caused the security level to be raised, except when passengers might be put in danger.

Screening and Customs


The cruise ship operator must ensure that authorized screening of each person and their goods is performed. An up-to-date list of screening officers must be maintained and provided to the Minister of Transport Canada upon request. When customs clearance is required, a location must be mutually agreed upon between the cruise operator and the Canada Border Services Agency, as there are no official marine ports of entry north of 60° latitude. All inquiries should be addressed to the appropriate region office depending on the location of the proposed entry port.