Cargo on seagoing vessels

Cargo on seagoing vessels must comply with the requirements of SOLAS (the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) (Chapters VI and VII) and MARPOL (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). Each type of product must be transported appropriately. There are 5 types of cargo: dry bulk, liquid bulk, container cargo, roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) and general cargo.

Dry bulk

In dry bulk, the goods are not individually packed. The goods are transported in bulk in the hold of a ship. Examples of dry bulk include agribulk, coal, iron ores, cement, scrap metal, sand and industrial minerals.

Liquid bulk

Liquid products that are often widely transported in a tanker ship to the next destination. Examples of liquid bulk include crude oil, gasoline, fuel oil and vegetable oils.

Container cargo

Containers are the ideal means for transporting many products. Examples of such products include toys, televisions, DVDs, clothing, meat and computers. Goods in containers can be transported in large quantities at a time. The metal walls of the container protect the goods from weather and wind. The fixed dimensions of the containers also have an important advantage. The containers fit on seagoing vessels, trucks, barges and rail cars.

Roll-on/roll-off (RoRo)

RoRo cargo means transporting wheeled cargo. Examples include passenger cars, vans, trucks, agricultural vehicles and cranes. This includes heavy cargo loaded on board by use handling equipment.

General cargo

Cargoes that cannot be loaded in bulk or containers fall under general cargo. Examples of general cargo include paper, big bags, windmill parts, steel coils, lumber, yachts and other heavy cargo.

Dangerous goods

Additional laws and regulations apply to the transportation of dangerous goods. Thus, with this type of cargo, not only SOLAS and MARPOL must be complied with, but also related laws and regulations.  

There are 5 categories of dangerous goods:

  • Dangerous goods in packaged form. These are described in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.
  • Liquid chemicals. See the description in the International Bulk Chemical (IBC) Code.
  • Bulk solids. These are described in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. 
  • Gases. Please read the description in the International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code.
  • Packaged nuclear materials. These are described in the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Packaged Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes on Board Ships (INF Code).

Reporting incidents and accidents

When transporting dangerous goods that are possibly dangerous to public safety, you must report this to the ILT. Please use our reporting form  (only in Dutch).


The ILT uses drones when inspecting container ships. There is a camera mounted on those drones that takes aerial photographs of passing container ships. These photos can be taken at close range and in a safe manner. As a result, helicopter deployments are no longer necessary. This inspection method was first used in 2022. Inspection results show that a quarter of the container ships inspected show improper lashing and securing of cargo.