International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974

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: 25/05/1980


Transport and telecommunications

Sub category

Maritime shipping and load lines



What is it about?

This Convention deals with the safety of merchant ships, specifying minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety. It covers: subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations; fire protection, detection and extinction; life-saving appliances and arrangements; radiocommunications; safety of navigation; carriage of cargoes (covering requirements for stowage and securing of cargo and cargo units, such as containers); nuclear ships; management for the safe operation of ships; and special measures to enhance maritime safety.

Why is it relevant?

This instrument is regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.

Additional Information

Governments are responsible for ensuring that ships under their flag comply with the requirements of this instrument. In order to assure that such compliance was achieved different kinds of certificates are prescribed throughout the Convention. Moreover, Governments are allowed to inspect ships of other flags if there are grounds for believing that the ship and its equipment do not substantially comply with the requirements of this instrument. This Convention provides for a tacit amendment procedure. It means that an amendment enters into force on a specific date, unless, before that date, objections to the amendment are received from an agreed number of Governments. As a result of this process, this instrument has been amended many times and it is sometimes referred to as SOLAS, 1974, as amended.

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


Country ratifications

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