Cargo Ships Regulation

March 20, 2023


The Regulation on carrying cargo aboard marine vessels (Regulation No: 2023/R-71) (“Cargo Ships Regulation”) was published in the Government Gazette on 20th February 2023. It is to come into force within 3 months from this date i.e. 20th May 2023.


  • To establish minimum requirements for loading, unloading, storage, carriage and safety of cargo on ships. 
  • To establish shipowners’ and ship captains’ responsibilities in respect of the above. 
  • As such, the responsibilities are:
    •  Shipowners have to: -
      • ensure that the vessel can carry cargo to destination safely; and
      • take responsibility for any damage to cargo resulting from their negligence.
    • Captains have to: -
      • be licensed accordingly;
      • act in the interest of the safety of crew, passengers (if any) and cargo; and
      • ensure that crew follow the Cargo Ships Regulation rules in loading and unloading cargo onboard ship. 


Cargo Ships Regulation is applicable on ships registered and licensed under Registration of Local Vessels Regulation (Regulation No: 2016/R-6). However, it does not apply to national security vessels, foreign security vessels that come to Maldives, and vessels with diplomatic clearance (under s.5 of the Marine Vessels Act (Act No: 69/78). If the type of cargo requires an additional license, it must be obtained as well.

There are certain types of cargo which are exempt from the Cargo Ships Regulation. Other policies may be applicable on them. They include: -

  • dangerous goods;
  • food; 
  • oils and chemicals; 
  • living animals and plants; and 
  • waste. 

Loading and storage

Based on their specifications, cargo has to be loaded and stored on ships according to the following:

  • Sacks - unless it contains beach sand, must be stored in a way that ensures they are protected from sun, rain and sea. 
  • Boxes - must be stored in a way that ensures they would not be damaged and are also protected from sun, rain and sea. 
  • Containers - must be tightly wound and affixed. 
  • Bundles - along with machineries, vehicles, and project goods, must be tightly wound and properly affixed to the deck and must be protected from sun, rain and sea. 
  • If none of the above applies, cargo must be stored in a way that wouldn’t allow it to fall off ship. 
  • If the cargo consists of different varieties, each variety must be separately identifiable and segregated if they will damage each other. 
  • The way the cargo is stored must not disrupt the safety of the ship’s journey. 
  • Fragile or temperature sensitive goods must be appropriately packaged and labeled as such. 
  • Ships must not exceed their assigned tonnage of cargoes. 


If the cargo is damaged in any way during its loading or carriage because of the actions of the ship’s captain or crew, the shipowner or whoever is responsible for the ship will be liable for compensation. However, if damage cannot be attributed to either captain or crew, the shipowner or whoever is responsible for the ship is not liable.

Prohibited activities and fines

Action Fine (MVR)

Usage of Fire around cargo

Carrying more weight than ship's assigned tonnage 

Carrying prohibited goods

Disobeying the Cargo Ships Regulation  1,000 - 2,000 (depending on the gravity of action)
Repeating an action Additional 1,000 (at the discretion of Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation) 


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