Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG)

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: London, United Kingdom
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 15/07/1977


Transport and telecommunications

Sub category

Maritime shipping and load lines



What is it about?

This Convention regulates the maritime traffic scheme, establishing a number of requirements. It covers traffic rules related to traffic separation scheme; speed; risk of collision; steering and sailing; lights and shapes; and sound and light signals. Its annexes deal with technical provisions on lights and shapes and their positioning; sound signalling appliances; additional signals for fishing vessels when operating in proximity; and international distress signals.

Why is it relevant?

This instrument establishes international rules on traffic scheme that are essential to maritime safety for preventing collisions at sea. In doing so, it makes the observance to traffic separation scheme mandatory.

Additional Information

The COLERGs has a considerable number of amendments dealing with other issues related to maritime traffic such as inshore traffic zone, safety operations, and seaplanes. It also adopts a tacit acceptance procedure by which an amendment must first be adopted by two thirds of the Governments in the Maritime Safety Committee to enter into force. After that, the amendment enters into force on a specified date unless more than one third of Governments notify the Organization (IMO) of their objection.

  • Convention on the International Maritime Organization (Geneva, 06/03/1948).


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