Exemptions are normally issued only by the Administration but for some routine ones that are specifically covered in the Conventions, the authority has been given to the Recognized Organizations for their issue. Exemptions from the Conventions are only issued in respect of semi-permanent variations from the Convention requirements.
The IMO is notified of all Exemptions from the Conventions as soon as possible after 1 January each year.
In cases where the Convention does not permit an exemption or where there are no powers to exempt in the Convention, it is possible to accept an equivalent arrangement in accordance with:
- Regulation I/5 SOLAS.
- Regulation 3 of Annex 1 to MARPOL.
- Regulation 4, Annex VI MARPOL.
- Article 8, Load line.
- Red Ensign Group Yacht Code Part A&B
All Equivalent Arrangements are communicated to the IMO based on the report form set out in the appendix to the IMO guidelines for the approval of alternatives and equivalents as provided for in various IMO instruments or by the GISIS system. Once it is on the GISIS system or published as an SLS.14 Circular it can be used.
It is accepted that ships experience minor breakdowns in essential convention equipment from time to time. These breakdowns and other temporary situations where the ship is not able to demonstrate full compliance with the conventions are dealt with by the issue of a “Temporary Permission”. These documents are issued only by the Administration and can be prepared and sent very quickly. They are used in situations where a formal exemption is not appropriate and where the need is urgent and temporary, and they serve to prove:
- that the flag State has been informed,
- that the flag State has considered the situation, and
- that the flag State has agreed to the position for a short time subject to conditions as set out in the document.
It is important that owners and managers inform the Administration quickly when there is a problem of this nature as a result of accidental damage, breakdown, loss, failure, etc. of a piece of equipment or similar. The issue of a temporary permission and compliance with its conditions will demonstrate to PSC and others that the Administration has been informed and is in agreement, which normally allows the ship to continue in service without delay. It is NOT an exemption and it does not remove the need for compliance with the requirements of the appropriate Conventions at the earliest possible time.
Where deficiencies are detected during Recognised Organisation (RO) surveys and/or there is equipment failure during RO surveys, then the way forward is for short-term certification from the RO and not a request for a Temporary Permission.
In addition, Temporary Permissions are for a maximum of 4 weeks and there must be sound reasons, with supporting evidence (corrective action/repair plan), for any extension to be considered.