Permits and notifications - Shipping - Yleistä

All ships flagged to Finland must undergo an initial inspection before they are taken into service. A fee is payable for the inspection.

Pursuant to the Maritime Labour Convention, all ships with a gross tonnage of at least 500 that are engaged in international voyages must have a maritime labour certificate. No fee is payable for occupational safety and health inspections carried out for maritime labour certification purposes. 

The occupational safety and health inspection required for the issuance of a maritime labour certificate can be incorporated into the initial inspection.

Occupational safety and health inspections on board vessels

Either the shipowner or their representative must be present during the occupational safety and health inspection. A representative of the shipowner can also attend. The supervisor of whichever department is being inspected usually accompanies the inspector as they tour the workplace. A representative of the workers – usually the occupational safety and health representative – is also expected to be present during the inspection.

Booking an inspection

The shipowner must request an initial and maritime labour certification inspection from their Regional State Administrative Agency’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. See here for contact information. Inspections must be requested in writing using a pre-completed vessel inspection booking form.

Initial inspections can be booked from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Regional State Administrative Agency in whose jurisdiction the inspection is to be carried out. 

The inspections referred to in the Maritime Labour Convention that are necessary for issuing, maintaining or renewing a maritime labour certificate are requested from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Regional State Administrative Agency who has jurisdiction of the ship's domicile or from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Regional State Administrative Agency in whose jurisdiction port to which the vessel operates is located. A vessel operating abroad (cross trade) is inspected by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Regional State Administrative Agency in whose jurisdiction the vessel’s home port is.

Request the inspection in time

The inspection must be requested well in advance, but at least 30 days before the desired inspection time. An occupational safety and health inspector will contact the crew and/or the shipowner to confirm a date for the inspection and will perform the inspection in about one month of the request.

Travel expenses for inspections carried out abroad

The shipowner shall agree on the arrangements for the journey with the inspector conducting the inspection. The journey must be organised as time-efficiently as possible, avoiding weekends. The shipowner is responsible for covering the costs of the journey in accordance with section 9 of the Act on the Working and Living Environment of Seafarers and Catering on Board Ships (395/2012).

Duration of the inspection

The inspection of a typical cargo ship takes around four hours, while the inspection of a larger vessel will take between four and six hours and that of a large passenger ship will take from one-and-a-half to two days. Inspections are usually carried out during office hours.

An inspection report is drawn up within one month of the inspection and sent to the shipowner.

 How initial and maritime labour certificate inspections progress: At least 30 days before the inspection the shipowner requests an initial inspection or inspection for a maritime labour certificate statement in writing on the website. On inspection date the inspector carries out the inspection requested by the shipowner. Approximately one month after the inspection an inspection report of the completed inspection is sent to the shipowner and a possible statement is sent to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom for a maritime labour certificate.

Initial inspection

It is the shipowner’s responsibility to ensure that an initial inspection is carried out on board a new or second-hand ship that is going to fly the Finnish flag. During an initial inspection the occupational safety and health authorities ascertains that all on-board workspaces and accommodation comply with the applicable legal provisions and regulations.

The initial inspection must be carried out, if possible, before a ship is commissioned and in any case no later than six months from the date on which the ship is taken into service. A new initial inspection must be carried out if substantial alterations are made to a ship.

Maritime Labour Certificate

Occupational safety and health authorities carry out inspections in order to qualify ships with a gross tonnage of at least 500 for a maritime labour certificate on the basis of the occupational safety and health authorities’ opinion. In Finland, maritime labour certificates are issued by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, and only ships that have undergone an occupational safety and health inspection can be issued one.

The certification scheme is based on the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention, which entered into force internationally in 2013. A maritime labour certificate can also be granted to smaller vessels at the request of the shipowner.
Maritime labour certificates are issued for up to five years at a time. An interim inspection must be carried out at least two and no more than three years before the certificate’s expiry date.

The mandatory provisions of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) have been transposed into Finnish law.

Documents needed for inspection

The following documents need to be available during the inspection:

  • An employer's account of compliance with the matters listed in the minimum maritime labour requirements agenda, such as
    • training and qualifications
    • verification of the validity of medical certificates and derogations for crew members (e.g. existence of a monitoring list)
    • on-board complaints procedure
  • Copies of the manning certificate and crew list
  • Seafarers' employment contracts (and any trainee contracts)
    • Fixed-term contracts and their grounds will be given separately
  • Crew members' shift and watch records and working hours records
    • Compliance with working hours and rest periods
  • Occupational health care agreement and occupational health care action plan and information on the date of the workplace survey carried out by occupational health care
  • Statutory accident insurance for employees
  • Insurance or financial security for the protection of home travel rights and the financial security of the sick or injured worker
    • See Seafarers' Employment Contracts Act 756/2011, Chapter 13, Section 13 a
  • Document on the inspection of the ship’s medical stores
  • Ship's logbook entries for inspections of accommodation and catering
  • Ship lifting equipment inspection document(s)
  • Up-to-date chemical list(s) and safety data sheets
  • The acceptable noise and lighting measurements have been carried out on the ship's working and living environment or the employer assures that these will be carried out
  • Household water quality inspection document
  • A food diary is kept on board
  • Food hygiene competence
  • Compliance with occupational safety and health cooperation regulations
  • Occupational safety and health action plan and identification of hazards, and risk assessment
  • Training and instructions for crew members
  • The MLC 2006 (copy) must be available and accessible to seafarers as must a complaint procedure to shore forms.

If necessary, the shipowner may be requested to provide additional information on the basis of the observations made during previous inspections and/or the obligations listed in the inspection report and/or the complaint procedure to shore regulation and/or for other justified reasons, such as:

  • The appropriateness of the ship's working and/or living environment and/or catering, and/or compliance with relevant provisions
  • Personal protective equipment and/or the vessel’s personal protective equipment, instructions and other security measures
  • Safety of machinery, equipment and tools
  • Physical and/or psychosocial loading experienced by crew
  • Operating models against harassment, inappropriate treatment and discrimination
  • Operating models related to the threat of violence.

Statement to Traficom

On the basis of the inspection, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom will be given a statement in favour of issuing a certificate if the occupational safety and health authority does not find any obstacle to issuing a maritime labour certificate in matters falling within the competence of the occupational safety and health authority. The shipowner is also sent a copy of the opinion.

Permits and notifications - Shipping - Muualla verkossa