International Health

Port Health Authorities enforce a wide range of international, European and domestic legislation at ports and aboard vessels carrying passengers and freight. The controls are in place to protect the public and environmental health of the UK and Europe.

International health controls are in place prevent the spread of infectious disease from vessels, seafarers and passengers into Britain.  The principal legislation that applies to ships arriving from outside the UK is the Public Health (Ships) Regulations 1979 (as amended) which implement the provisions of the International Health Regulations.

These regulations require that port health is notified of any cases or symptoms of infectious disease aboard a vessel before it arrives  in port. This can be done by the submission of a maritime declaration of health form to or fax to 0044 1394 613331. This enables arrangements to be made for a medical officer to visit the ship, assess the patient and initiate controls to stop disease being introduced into the UK. A Maritime Declaration of Health is not required if there are no cases or symptoms of infectious disease.

There are also controls over conditions aboard vessels aimed at preventing public health hazards for crew and passengers.

The International Health Regulations require that ships must have a valid Ship Sanitation Certificate. This  is renewed every six months.  Inspections must be carried out at a designated port.  Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority is designated to carry out such inspections and issue the required certification.  There is a charge for the inspection

Inspections of all ships that travel internationally are required to ensure that vessels are properly managed, are free from pests and disease and that food is stored  and prepared hygienically. Water supplies to ships and aboard vessels are also monitored.  In circumstances that pose an imminent risk to health, port health will work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to detain the ship until remedial measures have been taken.

Pollution control

East Suffolk Council’s Pollution Control team is responsible for pollution control measures within the port such as dust and dark smoke emission. The Emergency Planning Team fulfills the Port Health responsibilities as a Category 1 Responder under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

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International Health
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Maritime Declaration of Health 2007 Maritime Declaration of Health 2007 01-Jul-2007

Related Web Links

  • Food Standards Agency - Food Safety
    As well as monitoring imports they are also responsible for policy relating to hygiene standards in UK food premises which also extends to shipping.
  • Health Protection Agency - Port Health
    The Health Protection Agency also have a responsibility along with the NHS in health protection arrangements in ports, and will work with Port Health to ensure that appropriate controls are used to prevent the spread of infectious disease or other health hazards.