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MARPOL Annex VI – Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships


MARPOL 73/78, Annex VI outlines international requirements for vessel air emissions and shipboard air pollution prevention measures. Annex VI enters into force for the United States on January 8, 2009. Starting on that date, U.S. ships operating anywhere and foreign-flag ships operating in United States waters must comply with the requirements set out in MARPOL Annex VI. (33 U.S.C. 1901(a) (4) & (5), 1902(a)(1)&(5), and 1907 (a), as amended by the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008 (MPPA), Pub.L. 110-280, 122 Stat 2611).


A copy of Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code is attached to the right. 




United States ships of 400 gross tons and above, as measured under the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (ITC), engaging in voyages to ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of a party to MARPOL Annex VI and foreign-flag ships of over 400 gross tons (ITC) operating in United States waters shall demonstrate compliance with Annex VI through possession of a valid International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) certificate. 





As a party to Annex VI, the United States will verify that U.S. and foreign-flag ships operating in U.S. waters are in compliance with MARPOL Annex VI and will verify that ships entitled to fly the flag of a party to Annex VI have an IAPP certificate on board if that ship is required to have one under the Annex VI implementing schedule.



Policy Guidance:

CG-543 Policy Letter 09-01, attached to the right, provides further guidance for ensuring compliance with Annex VI. 

CG-CVC Policy Letter 12-04, attached to the right, provides further guidance for ensuring compliance with the ECA. 



Additional Information:  

  •  EPA Finalizes Stringent Emission Control and Fuel Standards for Large Marine Engines:

The EPA web page for No-road Engines found at 
provides the EPA's Final Rule (75 FR 22896, 30APR2010) on new emission standards for new marine diesel engines with per-cylinder displacement at or above 30 liters (called Category 3 marine diesel engines) installed on U.S. vessels. These emission standards are equivalent to those adopted in the amendments to Annex VI. In this rule, the EPA is also finalizing a change to their diesel fuel program that will allow for the production and sale of 1,000 ppm sulfur fuel for use in Category 3 marine vessels. In addition, the new fuel requirements will generally forbid the production and sale of other fuels above 1,000 ppm sulfur for use in most U.S. waters, unless alternative devices, procedures, or compliance methods are used to achieve equivalent emissions reductions. The EPA is also adopting further provisions under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, especially to apply the emission standards to engines covered by MARPOL Annex VI that are not covered by the Clean Air Act, and to require that these additional engines use the specified fuels (or equivalents).

This action affects companies that manufacture, sell, or import into the United States new marine compression-ignition engines with per cylinder displacement at or above 30 liters for use on vessels flagged or registered in the United States; companies and persons that make vessels that will be flagged or registered in the United States and that use such engines; and the owners or operators of such U.S. vessels. Additionally, this action may affect companies and persons that rebuild or maintain these engines. Finally, this action may also affect those that manufacture, import, distribute, sell, and dispense fuel for use by Category 3 marine vessels.

Under these regulations, both U.S.- and foreign-flagged ships subject to the engine and fuel standards of MARPOL Annex VI must comply with the applicable Annex VI provisions when they enter U.S. ports or operate in most internal U.S. waters including the Great Lakes.

Also, U.S. Vessels Enrolled in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) should review the EPA regulations discussed on page 22939 of the Final Rule (75 FR 22896, 30APR2010) applicable to these ships.

  • EPA Engine Emission Regulations:

For U.S. vessels, all 2004 and later model year marine diesel engines are required to meet EPA emission regulations of either 40 CFR Part 94 or 40 CFR Part 1042. In some minor cases, on-highway, locomotive, and land-based non-road engines can be used in marine applications - these engines are subject to 40 CFR Part 86, 89, 92, 1033, or 1039. These marine diesel engine requirements apply to applications ranging from small recreational vessels up to large ocean-going vessels.

 Compliance with EPA emission regulations is evidenced by the presence of a permanent emission control information label on the engine. If the label is absent from the engine or is inconsistent with the application for which the engine is installed, marine inspectors will notify EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. 

[Refer to EPA’s website at for further guidance on EPA emission regulations, EIAPP Certificate issuance and EPA contact information. For specific information concerning marine engine labeling requirements, see 40 CFR Part 94, §94.212 and/or 40 CFR Part 1042, §1042.135.]

  • Resolution MEPC.182(59) - Guidelines for the Sampling of Fuel Oil for Determination of Compliance with the Revised MARPOL Annex VI, provides guidance on bunker sampling methods, location, handling, storage and integrity. MEPC.182(59) revokes previous guidance found in MEPC.96(47).  A copy of MEPC.182(59) is found in the attachments section above.
  • The Winter 2008-09 issue of Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council provides two articles pertaining to Annex VI – “IMO Strengthens Air Pollution Regulations” on page 22 and “International Maritime Organization and Environmental Protection Agency Marine Emission Regulations” on page 25. These articles are available on the web at: Proceedings of the Marine Safety and  Security Council 

  • Avoiding propulsion loss from fuel switching:

    American Petroleum Institute Technical Considerations


    Coast Guard Safety Alert 03-06 informs vessel owners and operators of the potential engine failure and shut down during fuel switching.   The Safety Alert may be at: by selecting the following tabs: Safety Alert > Fuel Switching Information.


MARPOL Annex VI (revised):


In October 2008, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO adopted amendments to Annex VI. Annex VI (revised) will enter into force on July 1 2010. The next revision to CG-543 Policy Letter 09-01 will reflect the changes implemented in Annex VI (revised). 


The document "Brief on MARPOL Annex VI (revised)" attached to the right offers a brief summary of the adopted Annex VI amendments.


A copy of Annex VI (revised) and the NOx Technical Code (revised) is also attached to the right. 



Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Non-Availability of Compliant Fuel Oil (Reg 14 of Annex VI)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released on June 26, 2012 interim guidance for ship owners and operators clarifying how the U.S. government will implement fuel availability provisions when ships are unable to obtain fuel that meets standards protecting against sulfur pollution along the coast.


A copy of EPA's Interim Guidance on the Non-Availability of Compliant Fuel oil for the North American Emission Control Area  is also attached to the right.

For further details regarding the Emission Control Area are on the EPA's web site at:


North American Emission Control Area (ECA)


In a joint news conference on March 30, 2009 with the Coast Guard and New Jersey elected officials, the EPA announced that the United States and Canada have proposed the designation of an Emission Control Area (ECA) for specific portions of U.S. and Canadian coastal waters. This action would control the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter (PM) from ocean-going ships that operate within this “North American ECA”, most of which are flagged outside of the United States. 


As required in MARPOL Annex VI (revised), ships operating in an ECA must use fuel with no more than 1,000 parts per million sulfur beginning in 2015. Ships built after January 1, 2016 that operate in an ECA must use advanced emission control technologies (Tier III NOx engine emission requirements). 


An application for ECA designation must be approved by the Parties to Annex VI, as an amendment to Annex VI. Assuming the application is considered at MEPC 59 (July 2009), the earliest possible approval date is the following MEPC meeting, MEPC 60, which is anticipated to take place in March 2010. Given the MARPOL amendment acceptance process and the lead-time specified in the regulations, an ECA submitted on this time line could be expected to enter into force as early as August 2012.


For further details regarding the proposed ECA, please see the Emission Control Area Designation section on the EPA's web site at:


Please see attached CG-CVC Policy Letter 12-04 (Guidelines for Complaince and Enforcement of the Emission Control Areas Established Within the United States Jurisdiction as Designated in MARPOl Annex VI Regulation 14)


Frequently Asked Questions: North American Emission Control Area (ECA)

U.S. Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance:

The USCG and EPA have compiled this consolidated list of FAQs and associated responses from queries received since the implementation of the North American ECA. Also included at the end of the document is a list of questions received which are currently under review by the USCG/EPA. The USCG will update the FAQs on a monthly basis (or sooner) which will be identified by a revision date located at the top of the first page of this document. Questions may be submitted directly to or The email subject line should include the following text: Question regarding the North American ECA.

Please see attached FAQ Document. 


Obtaining an IAPP Certificate from the Coast Guard or Authorized Class Societies (ACS). 


Vessel owners and operators of U.S. flagged vessels may contact their cognizant OCMI or ACS for application, inspection/survey, and issuance of an IAPP Certificate and its Supplement. Only ACSs that have been delegated the authority to issue IAPP Certificates on behalf of the Coast Guard in accordance with 46 CFR 8.320 may issue IAPP Certificates to U.S. flagged vessels.  A list of ACSs and their delegated authorities is provided on the Coast Guard’s Alternate Compliance Program web page at by selecting the “Summary Table of Authorizations” tab.



USCG / EPA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to jointly enforce U.S. and international air pollution requirements for vessels operating in U.S. waters. These requirements establish limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and require the use of fuel with lower sulfur content, protecting people's health and the environment by reducing ozone-producing pollution, that can cause smog and aggravate asthma. The most stringent requirements apply to ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coast of North America. 

See Press Release

Memorandum of Understanding Between United States Coast Guard and United States Environmental Protection Agency Regarding Enforcement of Annex VI as Implemented by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships 

USCG & EPA Joint Letter to the Maritime Industry


CG-CVC-1 – Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance point of contact. 
U.S. Vessel MARPOL Annex VI policy questions may be addressed to the Domestic Vessel Compliance Division at USCG Headquarters, (202) 372-1224 or 









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