In view of the rapid increase since the 1950s in the use
of freight containers for the consignment of goods by sea and the
development of specialized container ships, in 1967 the International
Maritime Organization (IMO) undertook to study the safety of containerization
in marine transport.
In 1972 a conference, jointly convened by the United Nations
and IMO, was held to consider a draft convention prepared by IMO in
co-operation with the Economic Commission for Europe.
The 1972 Convention for Safe Containers (CSC 1972) adopted
by that conference has two goals: one is to maintain a high level
of safety of human life in the transport and handling of containers
by providing generally acceptable test procedures and related strength
requirements which have proven adequate over the years; the other
is to facilitate the international transport of containers by providing
uniform international safety regulations, equally applicable to all
modes of surface transport. In this way, proliferation of divergent
national safety regulations can be avoided.
The requirements of the Convention apply to the great majority
of freight containers used internationally, except those designed
specially for carriage by air. As it was not intended that all container,
van or reusable packing boxes should be affected, the scope of the
Convention is limited to containers of a prescribed minimum size having
The Convention sets out procedures whereby containers used
in international transport must be safety-approved by the Administration
of a Contracting Party or by an organization acting on its behalf
The Administration, or an organization authorized by it, will then
authorize the manufacturer to affix to approved containers a Safety
Approval Plate containing the relevant technical data.
The approval evidenced by the Safety Approval Plate granted
by one Contracting Party should be recognized by other Contracting
Parties. This principle of reciprocal acceptance of safety-approved
containers constitutes the cornerstone of the Convention. Once approved
and plated, containers are expected to move in international transport
with the minimum of safety control formalities.
The subsequent maintenance of a safety-approved container
is the responsibility of the owner, who is required to have the container
The technical annexes to the Convention specifically require
that the container should be subjected to various tests, which represent
a combination of safety requirements of both the inland and maritime
modes of transport. Flexibility is incorporated into the Convention
by the provision of simplified amendment procedures for the technical
The Convention was amended in 1981 to provide transitional
arrangements for plating of existing containers (which had to be completed
by 1 January 1985) and for the marking of the date of the container's
next examination by 1 January 1987.
It was again amended in 1983 to extend the interval between
re-examinations to 30 months and to permit a choice of container re-examination
procedures between the original periodic examination scheme or a new
approved continuous examination programme (ACEP).
In 1991, amendments were adopted to annex [ which aim to
prevent containers being marked with misleading maximum gross weight
information, to ensure removal of the Safety Approval Plate when void
for any cause and to provide for the approval of modified containers.
The amendments to annex II. also
adopted in 1991, aim to clarify certain test provisions. The 1991
amendments entered into force on 1 January 1993 and have been incorporated
into the text of the annexes in this publication.
The supplement to this publication, containing revised and
consolidated recommendations on harmonized interpretation and implementation
of the Convention, does not constitute any part of the Convention.
Amendments to the Convention were proposed in Assembly resolution
A.737(18). These amendments will enter into force when they have been
adopted by two thirds of the Contracting Parties to the Convention.footnote The text of this resolution is included in this publication.