Cargo and carriage

Cargo can come in all shapes and sizes and be transported from one place to another in a variety of ways. This page will guide you to relevant maritime rules, safety bulletins and other useful links for the safe transportation of cargo.

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Cargo comes in different shapes and sizes.

Carriage of dangerous goods

Maritime Rules 24A sets out the requirements for the transport of dangerous goods at sea. These requirements are in place to effectively protect the lives of seafarers and passengers, the safety of vessels and the marine environment.

The requirements for the transport of dangerous goods at sea are comprehensive and specific in order to effectively protect the lives of seafarers and passengers, the safety of vessels and the marine environment.

Maritime Rule Part 24A: Carriage of Cargoes – Dangerous Goodssets out the responsibilities of seafarers, ship owners, shippers, consolidators and packers and anyone involved in the carriage of dangerous goods by sea.

Maritime Rule Part 24A

Management of dangerous goods on vessels operating under MOSS

The new Maritime Rules Part 24A: Carriage of Cargoes – Dangerous Goods was signed into law by the Minister of Transport on 8 April 2014. The new Part 24A comes into force on 1 July 2014 and replaces the existing Part 24A.

The following information is for operators working under the new Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) framework, which replaces the Safe Ship Management (SSM) system from 1 July 2014. It explains how the new dangerous goods rules will work under MOSS and how these should be addressed in your safety system, as described in your Maritime Transport Operator Plan (MTOP).

Q. What are dangerous goods?

Dangerous goods are those substances, materials and articles classified as dangerous goods in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code). Commonly carried dangerous goods include:

  • ammunition and fireworks
  • aerosol canisters
  • LPG cylinders
  • oxyacetylene cylinders
  • compressed air cylinders for scuba diving
  • flammable liquids, including petrol, kerosene, methylated spirits, turpentine, thinners, solvent-based paints, epoxy resins and adhesives
  • diesel
  • some swimming pool chemicals
  • some commercial and household cleaning products
  • some herbicides and pesticides
  • acids and alkalis.

Dangerous goods can also include articles such as lead-acid batteries and vehicle airbag inflators when these are carried as cargo.

For transport, all dangerous goods are assigned a four-digit UN number, and proper shipping name (written in capital letters), which uniquely identifies them, and a dangerous goods class or classes, which indicates the nature of the hazard. For example, petrol is identified and classified as: UN1203 MOTOR SPIRIT or GASOLINE or PETROL Class 3 PG II (flammable liquid, packing group II).

These identifiers and dangerous goods classes are common to all transport modes. All consignments containing dangerous goods should be clearly marked or labelled with this information to identify their hazardous properties.

Where hazardous substances are carried as part of the ship's stores or equipment, then these substances are not considered to be dangerous goods for the purposes of transport and are not covered by Part 24A. Examples include:

  • breathing apparatus (BA) gear or CO2 cylinders for fire fighting
  • refrigerants foR chillers and freezers
  • paints or cleaning chemicals
  • LPG for heating or cooking aboard.

The hazards from such substances must be managed in accordance with the Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSE Act) 1992, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act) 1996 (if they exceed the HSNO thresholds for hazardous substances) and any applicable requirements in the maritime rules.

Q. What is the difference between packaged dangerous goods and dangerous goods in bulk?

Packaged dangerous goods are dangerous goods that are not carried in bulk. This includes dangerous goods in small packages, in shipping containers, in portable tanks, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), and in road tankers and rail wagons.

“In bulk” means dangerous goods that are loaded directly into the cargo spaces or other spaces on a ship without any intermediate form of containment. Examples include oil or chemicals loaded into the cargo tanks of a tanker, or a solid cargo such as sulphur in the holds of a bulk carrier. “In bulk” does not refer to the volume, but to the method of containment.

Q. Do I need to address dangerous goods in my Maritime Transport Operator Plan (MTOP)?

Yes, you must address all significant hazards in your MTOP (or operator plan). Incidents involving dangerous goods on a vessel have the potential to escalate rapidly, threatening the safety of passengers and crew, the integrity of the vessel and the marine environment. When dangerous goods are being carried, a collision, fire or grounding can lead to an uncontrolled release of those dangerous goods and exacerbate an already serious situation.

If you are a maritime transport operator under Maritime Rules Part 19: Maritime Transport Operator – Certification and Responsibilities, you must develop an operator plan that describes your safety system.

The safety system should:

  • identify and manage safety risks involved in the operation
  • reflect safety guidelines and other best practice information provided by Maritime NZ and others
  • ensure that the operation complies with applicable maritime rules and marine protection rules.

Specifically the plan should include:

  • procedures for the safe transportation of cargo, passengers and goods
  • emergency procedures to deal with incidents involving dangerous goods, as applicable.

The diagram (below) gives an overview of the process.

Where dangerous goods are to be carried, an operator must document their safety system and how they will manage the risks associated with those dangerous goods in their operator plan. A Maritime Transport Operator Certificate (MTOC) will be issued once the Director of Maritime NZ is satisfied that the operator meets the requirements of Maritime Rules Part 19: Maritime Transport Operator – Certification and Responsibilities, including completion of a satisfactory operator plan.

Q. What do I need to do if I intend to carry dangerous goods at some point?

The carriage of dangerous goods is an ‘activity’ for the purposes of Part 19. If you do not carry dangerous goods currently but, at some stage in the future, will do so, you will need to get approval from the Director of Maritime NZ for an amendment to your operator plan to cover that change in activity before you begin to carry dangerous goods.

If you intend to carry dangerous goods as part of your operation, even occasionally, you must assess the risks associated with those dangerous goods. In assessing the risks, you must consider the following:

  • the size, design and configuration of the vessel (including the location of stowage areas and the ability to adequately segregate dangerous goods from passenger and accommodation areas, from incompatible substances, and from sources of ignition)
  • the area of operation (including distance from land and availability of assistance in the event of an emergency, recognising that a dangerous goods incident may escalate very rapidly)
  • the weather and sea conditions likely to be encountered during the course of the voyage
  • whether passengers are carried and how many
  • the classes and quantities of dangerous goods carried
  • whether dangerous goods are carried as freight
  • whether dangerous goods are carried by passengers as personal luggage, or in their vehicles on board vessels, or both.

Q. What is meant by dangerous goods freight?

Dangerous goods freight means any dangerous goods that are carried for hire or reward, that is, someone is paying you to transport those dangerous goods in your vessel. Dangerous goods brought on board by passengers in their luggage for their personal use, for example an LPG bottle or a small container of diesel or petrol, is not dangerous goods freight for the purposes of Part 24A. However, restrictions still apply to such dangerous goods

Q. What about dangerous goods carried in vehicles?

Where a vessel is capable of carrying vehicles (particularly roll on – roll off (or ro-ro) vessels), then the quantities and range of dangerous goods brought aboard can be significant. It may also be more difficult to determine which dangerous goods are being carried and to control what is in the vehicle.

Dangerous goods carried in vehicles for domestic or recreational purposes, as tools-of-trade, for agricultural use, or for some other commercial purpose, are not considered to be dangerous goods freight (DG freight). However, there are limits to what can be brought on board a vessel in a vehicle for such a purpose.

Where dangerous goods are being carried in a vehicle for hire or reward, this is considered to be DG freight. If it is DG freight for the purposes of road transport, then it is also DG freight for the purposes of carriage on a vessel.

For example, where fuel is carried in a road tanker, it is considered to be DG freight if it is classified as dangerous goods for the purpose of carriage on the road. Similarly, a sucker truck carrying sewage waste will be considered to be DG freight if it is classified as dangerous goods when on the road.

Any dangerous goods carried in a vehicle are also subject to the requirements of Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods (2005) when driven on the road.

Part 24A does not apply to fuel carried in the fuel tanks of a vehicle.

Q. What is meant by passengers?

A passenger is defined as anyone who is not the master, a member of the crew, or someone employed or engaged in any capacity on the business of the ship. If the passenger is an employee and the vessel is his or her place of work, the Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSE Act) also applies in respect of employer and employee (and contractor, as applicable) responsibilities.

Dangerous goods carried by passengers

The rule sets limits as to the permitted classes and maximum quantities of dangerous goods that a passenger may bring aboard – see schedule 2 (dangerous goods permitted for passengers) and schedule 3 (dangerous goods permitted for driver of drive-on vehicle). However the operator and master are responsible for the safety of the vessel and its crew and passengers, and so should determine what (if any) dangerous goods may be safely carried by passengers. There should be a clear policy and procedures in the operator plan covering this.

Q. Which dangerous goods can foot passengers take on board a vessel and what responsibilities do they have?

Foot passengers must tell the master about any dangerous goods that they intend to take on board before they board a vessel, and they may be required to hand them over for stowage during the course of the voyage. Any dangerous goods they carry must be in the manufacturer’s original packaging or in approved refillable containers, and must not be damaged or leaking. It is the passenger’s responsibility to correctly identify what they are carrying and advise the master accordingly.

As noted, foot passengers can only take aboard certain classes of dangerous goods as passenger luggage, and then only in small quantities, as specified in schedule 2 of the rule. This includes specified maximum amounts of ammunition, flammable gases, scuba dive tanks, flammable liquids, some flammable solids, toxic substances and diesel.

However it may not be safe if every passenger were to take aboard their maximum “allowance” of dangerous goods, therefore the operator must determine what can be safely carried and set overall limits for each vessel. There are some dangerous goods that are not permitted to be taken on board by a passenger in any circumstances, such as any radioactive material or any corrosive substances. In any case, the master can refuse carriage of any particular dangerous goods, in accordance with the operator’s policy, or if he or she considers it is unsafe to carry them.

Operators must make passengers aware of the hazards of dangerous goods where carried, and have a system for advising passengers what they can and cannot bring aboard.

Q. Which dangerous goods can drivers of passenger vehicles take on board and what responsibilities do they have?

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for what is carried in the vehicle, including what is carried by their passengers. Passengers with a vehicle can only take certain classes of dangerous goods aboard in that vehicle for domestic, recreational or commercial purposes, and then only in small quantities as specified in schedule 3 of the rule.

The rule does not require drivers to tell the master about any dangerous goods that are carried in a vehicle before they board a vessel, provided the dangerous goods are within the limits specified in the rule. However, some operators may have a policy that requires you as the driver to declare any dangerous goods that you have in your vehicle. If the allowable limits are exceeded, the dangerous goods will need to be carried as freight, in which case you will need to declare them and also provide documentation for them.

It may not be safe if every passenger with a vehicle were to take aboard their maximum “allowance” of dangerous goods, therefore the operator must determine what may be safely carried and set overall limits for each vessel. There are some dangerous goods that a passenger will not be able to take on board in a vehicle such as toxic gases, most explosives and any radioactive material. In any case, the master can refuse carriage of dangerous goods in accordance with the operator’s policy, or if he or she considers it is unsafe to do so.

Any dangerous goods that drivers carry in their vehicles must be in the manufacturer’s original packaging or in approved refillable containers, and must not be damaged or leaking. It is the driver’s responsibility to correctly identify what they are carrying and ensure that it is safely and securely stowed in the vehicle. Drivers already have these responsibilities when carrying those dangerous goods on the road.

Dangerous goods carried in a vehicle must remain in the vehicle during the course of the voyage.

Operators must make drivers aware of the hazards of dangerous goods where carried, and have a system for advising drivers what they can and cannot bring aboard.

Q. What responsibilities do masters or vessel operators have with respect to dangerous goods?

Operators must:

  • have a clear policy on the carriage of dangerous goods on the vessels that they operate, setting out whether carriage of dangerous goods is permitted (including by passengers) and if so how they will be managed
  • identify and assess the risks associated with dangerous goods in their operation. Where the vessel operates in different configurations, for example, as a passenger or non-passenger vessel and in different limits, the policy should take into account the different risks associated with those configurations
  • ensure that crew are appropriately trained to correctly identify and handle any dangerous goods that may be carried, are aware of the hazards, and are able to respond in the event of an emergency
  • ensure that overall limits and quantities of dangerous goods are established for each vessel in their operation
  • ensure there are procedures and suitable arrangements for safe stowage and securing, taking account of the particular hazards of the dangerous goods, the segregation of incompatible substances, and the requirements to keep dangerous goods away from passenger and accommodation areas, and sources of ignition
  • make passengers aware of the hazards of dangerous goods where carried, and have a system for advising passengers what they can and cannot bring aboard. This applies to foot passengers as well as passengers with vehicles
  • ensure there is a system for keeping track of all dangerous goods carried on board, so that this information is readily available in the event of an emergency or spillage into the sea.

If operators intend to carry unaccompanied vehicles containing dangerous goods, there should be a procedure for this. These dangerous goods should be treated as freight and therefore must be declared by the vehicle owner.

Masters must:

  • ensure that all dangerous goods accepted for carriage are clearly and correctly identified and labelled, are carried only in original manufacturer’s packaging or approved refillable containers, and ensure that those containers are not damaged or leaking
  • know what dangerous goods are being carried on board and must not accept dangerous goods for carriage without the necessary documentation (as required by the maritime rules)
  • ensure that all dangerous goods are safely and securely stowed and segregated in accordance with the procedures above
  • report any incidents involving dangerous goods.

Operators and masters may refuse to accept any dangerous goods for carriage if they believe it is not safe to carry them.

Q. What things do operators need to cover in their MTOP (operator plan) with respect to dangerous goods?

The safety system described in the operator plan must reflect the risks identified in the risk assessment and also good practice as prescribed in Maritime NZ guidelines and other relevant industry guidance.

The operator plan should address:

  • stowage plans for dangerous goods on board, including segregation of incompatible dangerous goods, and segregation of dangerous goods from passenger/accommodation areas and ignition sources
  • overall quantities and classes of dangerous goods permitted on board
  • maximum permitted passenger numbers when carrying dangerous goods of stowage category D and E (includes petrol, LPG, and acetylene)
  • maximum permitted passenger numbers when carrying other classes of dangerous goods
  • any limitations on carriage of dangerous goods in large volume containers, for example portable tanks, road or rail tankers, receptacles of 450 litres or more
  • emergency equipment for use in the event of a dangerous goods incident
  • additional protective measures such as, fire-rated walls, fire detection and fire protection systems, including fixed and portable equipment and control of ignition sources
  • emergency response procedures for dangerous goods incidents, including emergency management information
  • safe egress for passengers and crew in the event of a dangerous goods emergency
  • dangerous goods documentation requirements
  • crew training for normal dangerous goods handling and for emergency situations.

The operator plan should also meet any additional requirements in Part 24A or other maritime rules or marine protection rules.

Q. What if my operation has multiple vessels?

The operator plan must address the particular characteristics of each vessel, such as size, whether it is a passenger or non-passenger vessel, the layout of cargo and passenger areas, stowage arrangements for dangerous goods and types of operation, where this is relevant to the carriage of dangerous goods. Some aspects of dangerous goods management, such as crew training or documentation requirements may be common to all vessels.

A vessel may have different modes of operation, for example, passenger or non-passenger, and may operate in different limits at different times, so the Operator Plan should take account of those different modes when addressing the carriage of dangerous goods.

Q. I only carry dangerous goods occasionally or in very small quantities. Do I still need to cover this in my operator plan?

Yes, if you carry any dangerous goods, you as the operator are responsible for managing the hazards from dangerous goods on your vessel(s). You must assess the risks and manage them accordingly. Even if you are only going to carry dangerous goods occasionally, you must still have systems for dealing with them when you do carry them, to ensure the safety of the vessels, your crew and passengers.

Q. What if I don’t require an operator plan?

If your vessel is subject to section 1 of Maritime Rules Part 21: Safe Ship Management Systems, it will be operating under the ISM Code, and dangerous goods should be managed through the safety management system as required by the code.

If your vessel is covered by an SOP (safe operational plan) or a safety case, then that SOP or safety case should address the risks with regard to dangerous goods.

Where a vessel such as an unmanned dumb barge is not required to operate under a certified safety system, then the owner of the vessel will need to apply for a dangerous goods permit. The dangerous goods permit must address the same matters as the operator plan with respect to dangerous goods.

Maritime Rules Part 21

Q. Which standards must I meet in order to carry dangerous goods?

Operation outside restricted limits or across Cook Strait

The standards in Part 24A that apply to the carriage of dangerous goods depend on where the ship operates. If you operate outside restricted limits, or across Cook Strait, the standards in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) will apply, irrespective of whether or not you operate under MOSS (Maritime Operator Safety System).

Within restricted limits

Within restricted limits, land transport standards for dangerous goods (as prescribed in the Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods (2005)) may be used as an alternative to the standards in the IMDG Code for dangerous goods in packaged form for:

  • identification and classification of dangerous goods
  • packaging, marking and labelling of dangerous goods, including placarding of vehicles
  • packing and segregation of dangerous goods within any container, freight vehicle or other form of secondary containment
  • the manufacture, testing and approval of packaging used for containment of dangerous goods.

However, the land transport rule does not address the stowage and securing of dangerous goods on board a ship including:

  • segregation of classes of dangerous goods that are incompatible
  • the separation of dangerous goods from passenger and accommodation areas, and from sources of ignition
  • the carriage of passengers when carrying dangerous goods of stowage categories D and E.

Part 24A does not prescribe particular standards for these matters but instead requires that they be managed through the operator’s safety system as described in their operator plan. Maritime NZ will develop guidance setting out acceptable standards in respect of these matters. The guidance will be based on internationally recognised codes and accepted safe practice for the management of dangerous goods aboard vessels, specifically the standards in the IMDG Code.

Where an operator is unable to meet the standards in the guidance for their particular situation, they can propose alternative arrangements in their operator plan to mitigate the hazards, which will be considered by the Director of Maritime NZ. The Director will determine whether the plan adequately addresses the risks associated with the carriage of dangerous goods, taking into account the standards in the guidance and any alternatives proposed.

Q. I already have systems and procedures for dangerous goods – do I need to include these in my operator plan?

Yes, but if you already have an effective safety system in place that meets the requirements specified in the rules, then developing the elements of your operator plan that address dangerous goods should not require a lot of additional work.

Q. What will happen in the transition from SSM to MOSS?

Under the new MOSS (Maritime Operator Safety System) regime, an operator will be granted a deemed MTOC (Maritime Transport Operator Certificate) as of 1 July 2014 if they hold a current SSM (Safe Ship Management) certificate or certificates and they are certified as a Fit and Proper Person. They will need to have obtained a new MTOC by the expiry date of their SSM certificate. In the case of multiple vessels covered by a deemed MTOC, an operator must complete the transition into MOSS on the day their first SSM certificate expires.

The obligation on operators to ensure that dangerous goods hazards are properly managed and that operations are conducted safely is not new. SSM required operators to identify and address hazards from carriage of cargo (including dangerous goods). The preparation of an operator plan as part of obtaining an MTOC will provide an opportunity for operators to review their procedures and standards for carrying dangerous goods.

You will still need to comply with the new Maritime Rules Part 24A from 1 July 2014. If you are not applying for an MTOC straight away, but are continuing to use your existing SSM manual as your operator plan, you may need to update that SSM manual to reflect the changes in the rule.

Guidance on multi-modal transport of dangerous goods

This document, sourced from the Ministry of Transport, gives guidance on the requirements for handling dangerous goods for all modes of transport including carriage by sea.

Q. How is transportation of explosives regulated?

The transportation, storage, importation, manufacture and use of explosives is regulated under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. When explosives are carried by sea, the provisions of Part 24A also apply.

More information

Stowage and securing

Maritime Rules Part 24B sets out the requirements for the stowage and securing of all cargoes other than liquid, gas or solid bulk cargoes, grain, timber deck cargoes and livestock.

Carriage of specific cargoes

Maritime Rules Part 24C sets out the requirements which ships carrying grain, solid bulk cargoes, timber deck cargoes and livestock are to comply with.

Maritime Rules Part 24C

Solid bulk cargo

SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 1-2 requires that carriage of solid bulk cargoes (other than grain) must comply with the relevant provisions of the IMSBC Code. The code can be purchased through the IMO website.

Ships must have information to enable the master to prevent excessive stresses in the ship’s structure.

This information about the cargo should include:

  • Stability information as per SOLAS regulation II-1/5-1
  • Ballasting and de-ballasting rates and capacities.
  • Maximum allowable load per unit surface area of the tank top plating.
  • Maximum allowable load per hold.
  • General loading and unloading instructions with regard to the strength of the ship’s structure including any limitations s on the most adverse operating conditions during loading, unloading, ballasting operations and the voyage.
  • Any special restrictions such as limitations on the most adverse operation conditions imposed by the Administration or organisation recognised by it, if applicable.
  • Where strength calculations are required, maximum permissible forces and moments on the ship’s hull during loading, unloading and the voyage.

Shippers transporting Group A cargo must provide the master with a Document of Approval regarding the procedures for sampling, testing and controlling moisture content.

Use the application form below:

IMSBC document of approval application form [PDF 689kB, 11 pages]

Approval for offshore containers

Maritime Rules Part 24E sets out the requirements for offshore containers loaded and unloaded at offshore terminals, such as drilling rigs or oil/gas production facilities.

The rule specifies requirements for cargo containers handled in open seas, taking into account handling conditions and container type in the design approval, manufacture and testing of offshore containers.

Part 24E also provides requirements for the manufacture and inspection, identification and marking of offshore containers.

Approving authority application

If you would like to apply to be an approving authority or authorised organisation that can approve and inspect offshore containers, you need to develop a procedure for the approval of offshore containers. Use the application form and template below.

Related information:

Guidance Notices

Guidance notices provide supporting information on technical issues or areas.

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Safety Bulletins

Safety bulletins highlight specific and significant marine hazards.

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Contact us

For any queries please email:

E-mail:

Containers@maritimenz.govt.nz