BIMCO's position on "smuggling" has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.


The occasional unwitting involvement of merchant ships with smuggling of drugs, weapons, wildlife and other goods can constitute a serious problem to the involved seafarers and the shipowner. Although there is excellent cooperation and communication between the shipping industry, national custom/border control authorities and the World Customs Organization, there have been instances where innocent seafarers and companies have been held responsible for illegal goods placed on board their ships. For involved shipowners, detention of ships and arrest of crews are not uncommon and the potential for large fines and penalties is very real.

BIMCO’s position

  • Firm and prompt action should be taken by states against those using merchant ships for smuggling purposes.
  • Confiscation of ships used for drug smuggling cannot be accepted, unless a fair trial finds the shipowner guilty of direct involvement in the crime, on which the confiscation is warranted.
  • Campaigns to raise the awareness to reduce and prevent smuggling are supported by BIMCO.
  • Based on a shared interest, shipowners, operators and other industry stakeholders should co-operate in combating all elements of smuggling.
  • Custom authorities should reward proactive and co-operative shipowners and operators in the form of priority treatment, minimal delays and mitigating circumstances on crew, ships, operators and shipowners in any investigation.
  • Shipowners are encouraged to exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in preventing drugs from being placed on board and to assist and guide shipowners, customs authorities should clearly describe the preventative measures necessary to this end.


Rasmus Nord Jorgensen
in Copenhagen, DK

Want to stay up-to-date?

Register for updates about

Receive emails when this topic is updated – you can choose how often.

Register Now


Chartering help & advice

This section contains a comprehensive source of information and guidance on chartering related matters. You will find invaluable information on many aspects of chartering distilled from our many years’ experience on advising members.

Learn about your cargo

For general guidance and information on cargo-related queries.

More about cargo

BIMCO Publications

Want to buy or download a BIMCO publication? Use the link to get access to the ballast water management guide, the ship master’s security manual and many other publications.