Cargoes and Ship-Port Interface

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The Cargoes and Ship-Port Interface refers to a variety of programs that deal with marine cargo, including:

  • Bulk liquid and solid cargoes
  • Cargo lifting gear, tackle and lifting appliances
  • Containers
  • Dangerous goods, and
  • General cargoes

These activities also include approval of shippers' procedures for solid bulk cargoes, inspection of cargo lifting gear (tackle) and the loading of timber on deck.

One of the main functions is to develop and update cargo-related regulations and standards, and to answer questions from Marine Safety Regional offices and the marine industry on the use and interpretation of cargo-related regulations and standards.

Higher risk cargoes

Canadian law requires vessels loading, carrying and/or unloading some higher risk cargoes to be inspected by a Marine Safety Inspectors.

Marine cargo inspection for vessels loading concentrates, grain or timber on deck

We carry out around 1,500 inspections per year to make sure that cargo like grain, mineral concentrates and timber on deck, are loaded safely, and in a way that meets Canadian and international requirements. Under the Port State Control (PSC) program, vessels can also be inspected to check whether their cargo complies with SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Convention chapter VI, VII and XII. If your vessel is in Canadian waters and is loading a regulated cargo for export (like grain, concentrates, or timber on deck), you are required to request a marine cargo inspection.

Pre-wash endorsement

We carry out inspections of vessels that have unloaded a “Category X” noxious substance before it can leave the port of unloading to either approve the prewash operation or grant an exemption. Learn more about pre-wash endorsement and how to apply.

Approval of shippers' procedures for cargoes that could liquefy

We also inspect shippers to verify that procedures for sampling, testing and monitoring the moisture content of liquefied cargo are in place and in compliance with regulations. Learn more about approval of shipper's procedure and how to apply.

Cargo lifting gear, tackle and lifting appliances

Canadian law requires Transport Canada to oversee the safety of the tackle and lifting appliances used for loading/unloading vessels and handling materials on board vessels.

Over the years, we've worked with industry to develop safety standards for using cargo gear, like TP 11232 - Unitized Cargo Standard.


The Safe Containers Convention Act and Safe Containers Convention Regulations explain Canada's requirements for building and maintaining the shipping containers used for international trade CSC/Circ.134 27 May 2005  includes guidance on serious structural issues in containers.

Container-related publications and resources:

Dangerous goods

Our Marine Safety Inspectors check containers loaded with packaged dangerous goods against the regulatory requirements for documentation, stowing and securing as well as the Safe Containers Convention Act and Safe Containers Convention Regulations.

The results of these inspections are entered in a database for record-keeping purposes. A summary of inspections and issues is also sent to the Carriage of Cargoes and Containers Subcommittee of the IMO every year, and published in the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System.

Inspection for vessels loading, carrying or unloading dangerous goods

Authorized representatives can apply for the inspection of dangerous goods in solid bulk and/or packaged form being loaded, carried or unloaded. This includes ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers and explosives.

General cargoes 

Marine Safety inspectors are sometimes asked to examine and verify stowage and securing of cargo on board vessels to make sure it complies with regulations.

Improperly loaded cargo can lead to structural damage, stability issues, and cargo shifts. Following national and international guidance can help vessels avoid these issues:

Regulations and compliance

The Cargoes and Ship-Port Interface division is responsible for amendments to and the development of new regulations and standards related to its area of responsibility.

With respect to compliance, Transport Canada has developed a number of documents that provide policy guidance on the areas on which inspectors conduct their compliance work. Please select the appropriate link for further information on:

Regulatory Framework

Domestic and international committees

We participate at the Canadian Marine Advisory Council's (CMAC) Navigation and Operations Standing Committee. We also represent Canada in a number of international bodies:

  • Maritime Safety Committee
    • Sub-committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers
    • Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments
  • Facilitation Committee

Ship safety bulletins

From time to time, we issue Ship Safety Bulletins for owners, operators and authorized representatives of commercial vessels. The bulletins help us share the latest cargo-related safety information. This is key to the safety of life at sea and one of the ways we communicate with the industry on risks and how to manage them.