Classification Society Introduction: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

Confused about classification societies? In this guide, we will introduce you to classification societies and other related subjects.

Therefore, if you have a need for classification society selection and certification, please read this guide carefully, and what follows will answer most of your questions.

What is a classification society?

A classification society is an organization engaged in the inspection of ships and marine equipment.

Classification societies usually carry out technical inspections of newly produced ships and issue corresponding certificates after passing the inspection of various safety facilities of ships.

According to the needs of the inspection, they formulate the corresponding technical specifications and standards; they are entrusted by their own or other governments to participate in maritime activities on behalf of the relevant countries. Some classification societies also accept the inspection of land-based engineering facilities.

Classification societies establish and maintain the construction or operation of ships and offshore installations, they develop the relevant technical standards for this purpose.

classification society surveyor
classification society surveyor

What is the role of classification society?

  • Reviewing designs and drawings for new vessels and equipment
  • Inspecting structures to ensure design and compliance
  • Inspection of existing vessels to ensure they are well maintained
  • Development of advanced ship science
  • Review and certification of national regulations
  • Review and certification of international regulations (IMO)
  • Provision of load certificates, provision of tonnage measurements

What are the acceptance requirements of classification societies?

Different classification societies have different acceptance standards. Usually, they set their own rules, stipulate the requirements that ships must comply with, and issue their own certificates.

How to select a classification society?

There are many different class societies you can choose to work with, but please note that the flag state delegates most of its responsibilities to classification societies, so check first whether the classification society is accredited by a specific national/regional maritime authority.

For example, the Portuguese Classification Society (PCS) and the Hellenic Register of Shipping (HR), the influence of these classification societies is limited to their own countries. Bureau Veritas SA certification is widely recognized in the EU, Middle East and Africa.

OUCO recommends that you choose one of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), which are accepted by the regulatory bodies in most countries.

Do I have to be certified by a classification society?

In fact, in most countries, shipowners are not required to classify their ships, and classification society certificates are not a necessary condition.

However, passing the classification society inspection and obtaining the certificate will determine that the ship is of acceptable quality and is a requirement for most shipowners and freighters.

In large ports in some countries, your vessel may not be allowed to enter if it is not certified by a classification society. More worryingly, you will also not obtain marine insurance.

Finally, if you want to buy a boat, marine crane or other marine equipment, without grading your product, the transaction will be quite difficult and have certain safety risks in future use.

How many classification societies are there?

There are many classification societies in the world, which have reached more than 50 at present. Usually, we use IACS members as the basis, and there are currently 11, which are more recognized worldwide.

Lloyd’s RegisterLR
Bureau VeritasBV
Registro Italiano NavaleRINA
American Bureau of ShippingABS
Germanischer LloydDNV
Det Norske Veritas
Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK)NK
Polish Register of ShippingPRS
Croatian Register of ShippingCRS
China Classification SocietyCCS
Korean Register of ShippingKR
Indian Register of ShippingIRClass (IRS)

How to obtain certificates from different classification societies?

Each classification society will only issue one certificate for a product. However, if your product can meet both ABS and CCS standards, then you can apply for ABS & CCS certification, and receive two certificates.

You should note that most classification societies do not have mutually recognized and consistent specifications, you will need to consult the local branch of the classification society.

In general, if your ship is ABS certified, it is best to equip it with all the equipment on board that is ABS certified, as this will help to avoid a lot of unnecessary hassles.

For example, it will help you to reduce complicated procedures, facilitate the uniform renewal of certificates, maintenance and overhauls, etc.

What is IACS?

IACS-International Association of Classification Societies, IACS is a non-governmental organization, its members are authoritative classification societies, IACS was established to safeguard maritime safety standards and promote their further improvement, it cooperates with the marine engineering ship industry and IMO and other international organizations, it not only provides help to the world maritime industry, but also promotes the development of the industry.


List of IACS members in 2022?

As of March 2022, IACS has 11 members: ABS, BV, CRS, CCS, DNV, IRS, LR, KR, NK, PRS, RINA.

In addition, due to the international situation, on March 11, 2022, the Russian Maritime Classification Society was stripped of its membership by IACS.

What is ABS certification?

ABS performs design verification and manufacturing evaluation for offshore products to ensure that the products produced are suitable for industry standards and relevant class requirements.

ABS is recognized worldwide and is used to ensure that materials, components and structures are of acceptable quality. Ensuring that ships and marine equipment meet established safety standards.

ABS works with the marine industry around the world. Taking marine cranes as an example, ABS certification is more expensive and authoritative, and the certification period can be longer. It has standard requirements for product quality, worker skills, welding and flaw detection, and the certification period is 3-6 months.

What is BV certification?

BV conducts inspection and verification operations in a number of areas and also provides testing, inspection and certification of marine equipment. In addition to marine equipment certification, it also offers certification for construction, agricultural, food, industrial and other consumer products.

BV certification is also expensive, it has a certification cycle of about 4 months, and is highly recognized in Europe.

What is CCS certification?

China classification society provides certification for ships, offshore facilities and related industrial products, and the technical specifications and standards of CCS have reached the world’s leading level.

CCS has cooperated with major countries in international shipping and China classification society certificates are recognized worldwide.

In addition, compared with other classification societies, CCS certification is less expensive and the delivery time for certified products is about 3 months.

OUCO has a long-term business relationship with the China classification society, and many CCS surveyors also praised our marine products.

What is DNV certification?

Germanischer Lloyd and Det Norske Veritas merged in 2012, after the merger changed its name to DNV GL, now renamed DNV, DNV has become the world’s third largest classification society.

DNV certification is strict, first of all the factory needs to obtain DNV certification, after which the products produced by the factory can be certified. The cost is higher.

It is worth mentioning that DNV certification has the highest safety factor, usually for marine life-saving equipment certification, such as lifeboats, life-saving floating gear, etc.

What is RMRS certification?

In addition to providing basic certification, RMRS also specializes in providing certification for marine engineering equipment with low temperature working environment requirements. Being RMRS certified means your equipment can operate in environments as low as -40°.

What classification society verification steps should be done for offshore cranes?

Taking the offshore cranes produced by OUCO as an example, we usually have to go through:

  • Classification Society Approved Drawing
  • Manufacturing steel plate, ship plate material verification
  • Welders technical certification
  • Flaw detection, welding seam certification
  • Assembly acceptance, static and load tests are required for crane products

What is the CCS certification process?

  1. Submit application
  2. Submission of information
  3. Initial approval: data evaluation and on-site assessment
  4. Factory approval audit
  5. Product experimental approval and report
  6. Acquisition of accreditation certificate
  7. CCS fee regulations and payment

It is worth mentioning that if you choose to buy marine equipment from China, please do not hesitate to choose china classification society. Locally, its process will be simpler and faster!

CCS Certification Process Flowchart
CCS Certification Process

What is the ABS certification process?

  1. Submit an application – contact your local or nearby ABS institution and they will provide you with an application form with all the information you need to fill in, usually in the local language and in English. (You need to fill out carefully, the information is important for the subsequent certification of the product certificate)
  2. The product surveyor will contact the manufacturer.
  3. ABS surveyor will come to the factory for field inspection
  4. Payment
  5. After verification, the ABS allotment certificate will be sent by courier
  6. Received certificate

OUCO reminds you that you need to apply for ABS certification 15 days in advance.

ABS cerification process
ABS Certification Process

The validity period of classification society certification?

The validity period of ABS equipment certification is 3 years, the validity period of CCS equipment certification is 5 years, and other classification societies generally 4-5 years. A new certificate is issued after passing the inspection and audit.

What other certifications are available for marine cranes?

  • CE: European Union Certification
  • SGS: Swiss company third party product quality control and technical appraisal
  • ISO: International Organization for Standardization International Certification
  • CSS load test & BV load test: Test whether the crane load is up to standard

Can OUCO provide me with a classification society certificate?

Yes, absolutely!

We support all kinds of classification society certifications, and can provide you with certificates including ABS, CCS, BV, DNV, RMRS, etc.

In addition, our factory is certified by SGS, ISO9001, CE, BV, CCS and other authorities, and our welders have also obtained ABS and CCS welder qualifications.

Quality, safety and reliability are our pursuit! If you need further inquiries, please contact us!

OUCO Can Provide Various IACS Certified Products
OUCO Can Provide Various IACS Certified Products


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