Understanding the CTU Code

Poor CTU packing and incorrect declaration of contents is responsible for an alarmingly high percentage of incidents along the transport chain, leading to damage, loss, injuries and even fatalities.


Updated Code of Practice for the Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU)

In a vital move to tackle dangerous packing, the IMO, ILO and UNECE have released an updated Code of Practice for the Packing of CTUs, providing guidelines and information for all members of the global logistics chain – from shippers, cargo packers, forwarders and logistics companies through to road, rail and sea carriers, ports and terminals, depots, insurers and other cargo handling interests. The Code also addresses issues such as training and the packing of dangerous goods.


The CTU Code clarifies the responsibilities and obligations

The Cargo Transport Units Code (CTU Code) tightens and clarifies the responsibilities and obligations of the various participants in the marine supply chain – consignors, packers, road haulage companies, rail companies and recipients. This is a positive change, as it allows the cause of damage to a load to be swiftly identified. As a CTU passes through so many hands in the global shipping industry, this pinpointing of liability allows authorities to deal effectively with any incident. The Code is usable when a related complaint reaches court, which was not the case with the previous Guide.


Key requirements of the CTU Code

The 2014 CTU Code updates the 1997 IMO / ILO / UNECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units.

The key requirements are as follows:

  • A safe working environment must be provided
  • The CTU and any lashing equipment used must be in good condition
  • The most suitable CTU for a given load must be selected
  • Any load must be distributed evenly across the container floor
  • Lashing and protection systems that are uncertified or incompatible with a load must not be used
  • Any necessary marking and signs must be applied to the CTU exterior

The CTU Code is a joint publication of the:

  • International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO)
  • United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE)


It provides a non-mandatory global code of practice for the handling and packing of shipping containers (and other cargo transport units) transported by sea and on land.

The Code is designed to address major concerns for all parties involved in global cargo securing, relating to poor practice in the packing of cargo transport units. These include inadequate securing of cargo, overloading and incorrect declaration of contents. These failings can have a direct impact on members of the general public, or transport and supply chain workers – who have no control over these errors or their consequences.


Need help in understanding the CTU Code'

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