Rules for passenger ships on Svalbard

  • Published: 05/12/2017

This information applies for Norwegian and foreign passenger ships operating in the Norwegian territorial waters at Svalbard. The information applies to ships operating at Svalbard for a longer period and for ships on an international voyage, visiting the archipelago.

PHOTO: Jan Reinert Vestvik

Requirements for passenger ships in Norwegian territorial waters at Svalbard

The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has issues a circular with information on the minimum requirements for ships operating at Svalbard. Certificates should be issued by the ship’s flag state.

Use of small crafts for sightseeing

Small crafts used for sightseeing or similar, should either be certified as passenger ships (se above) or comply with the regulations on vessels carrying 12 passengers or less. This applies also for small crafts that is launched from a larger passenger vessel.

The NMA recommends that ships and small crafts operate in safe distance from glacier fronts. The horizontal distance should be at least five times the vertical height of the glacier front, and not less than 200 meters.

New Regulations

On October 24th 2018, the Norwegian Maritime Authority presented a proposal for new regulations for passenger ships operating in Norwegian territorial waters at Svalbard. The proposal was presented in a dialogue meeting in Longyearbyen. The regulations should enter into force on January 1st 2020.

Please register here to receive e-mail notification when the proposal is sent for public consultation.

Notification and reporting of accidents

Both Norwegian and foreign vessels are obliged to report accidents when operating in Norwegian territorial waters.

SARex 2016 and 2017

The University of Stavanger and the Norwegian Coast Guard has conducted two major exercises at Svalbard in 2016 and 2017, with focus on the use of different lifesaving appliances in polar waters.

The reports from the exercises is available here:

The NMA was present at both exercises and we recommend companies operating passenger ships at Svalbard to take into consideration the outcome of those reports, as applicable for the type of ship and operation.

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