Port Health


Why do ships need to be inspected?

The International Health Regulations came into force on 15th June 2007. One of the changes from the previous regulations is the replacement of deratting and deratting exemption certificates with ship sanitation control and control exemption certificates. The requirement for a ship sanitation certificate has been implemented in England, Scotland and Wales by an amendment regulation to the Public Health (Ships) Regulations. Vessels will be inspected for food safety hygiene, living accommodation/conditions, personal hygiene, evidence of vermin and pest control measures as well as any other issues that may be of public health concern.



Interim guidance on the new ship sanitation certificates can be found on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website. The Association of Port Health Authorities (APHA) is advising its members to carry out inspections in line with the APHA toolbox. This is an agreed standard throughout the UK. Copies are available to download via the APHA.



If a ship arrives in port without a valid ship sanitation certificate, officers will arrange to inspect the ship. If there is no evidence of public health risk we will issue a ship sanitation exemption certificate. The validity of an existing certificate may be extended for 1 month.

If a ship arrives in port and there is evidence of a public health risk during the inspection, a note will be added to the current certificate. If the ship is being inspected to issue a new certificate we will endeavour to satisfactorily complete or supervise the completion of the necessary control measures before issuing a SSCC.

If, in the opinion of the authority, the conditions under which control measures are carried out at the port are such that a satisfactory result cannot be obtained, this will be noted on the existing SSCC. The control measures must then be completed before a further SSCC is issued; however the affected conveyance may nevertheless be allowed to depart, subject to the following conditions:

(a)   The competent authority shall, at the time of departure, inform the competent authority for the next known point of entry of the type of information referred to under subparagraph (b); and

(b)   In the case of a ship, the evidence found and the control measures required shall be noted in the Ship Sanitation Control Certificate (SSCC).

If a request for an inspection is received at the Council (usually from the Master of the Ship) an inspection will be conducted as soon as possible but will be dependant upon an Officer being available who has the required experience and relevant food safety training. The inspection will usually last between one and two hours, depending on the size of the ship.

Should evidence of vermin be observed the Council’s Pest Control service will be advised and they will organise pest control treatment. If serious concerns are found regarding Food Safety the inspecting Officer will either deal with the issue directly or alternatively contact another Officer in the Food Safety Team to undertake further investigation.


Approved ports

The list of ports approved to issue Ship Sanitation Certificates globally is available on the WHO website.


Ship inspection charges

The Association of Port Health Authorities Environmental Health and Hygiene Committee has agreed a standard charging regime for the issuing of Ship Sanitation Exemption and Ship Sanitation Control Certificates.