Skip to main content

IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code)

Many incidents in transport are attributed to poor practices in the packing of cargo transport units, including inadequate securing of the cargo, overloading and incorrect declaration of contents. This is of major concern particularly because the victims may be the general public or transport and supply chain workers, who generally have no control over the packing of such units.

The CTU Code, a joint publication of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), addresses these concerns through a non-mandatory global code of practice for the handling and packing of shipping containers for transportation by sea and land.

The CTU Code is an update of the 1997 IMO/ILO/UNECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units and was endorsed by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, the UNECE Inland Transport Committee and the ILO Governing Body in 2014. The revision process took place from 2011-2013 under the auspices of a group of experts. Full documentation is available in the links below.

Within the CTU Code, comprehensive information and references on all aspects of loading and securing of cargo in containers and other intermodal transport are provided, taking account of the requirements of all sea and land transport modes. The CTU Code applies to transport operations throughout the entire intermodal transport chain and provides guidance not only to those responsible for packing and securing cargo, but also to those who receive and unpack such units. It also addresses issues such as training and the packing of dangerous goods.

The CTU Code is intended to assist the industry, employers’ and workers’ organizations as well as Governments in training their staff on the safe stowage of cargo in containers. The CTU Code could also be used as a reference base for national regulations and could become a model for internationally harmonized legislation in this field, should such requirements arise.

The CTU Code is currently available through a searchable website and is downloadable in multiple languages through the Key Documents section below.

Further practical guidance and background information related to the CTU Code are available as Informative material (MSC.1/Circ.1498). This Informative material has not been endorsed by UNECE or ILO and it does not constitute part of the CTU Code.

Key documents Links

IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (EN / FR / SP)


Informative Material (EN)


Documents and reports from the Group of Experts


List of participants

First session

Second session

Third session

Searchable CTU Code website


IMO/ILO/UNECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (1997 edition)

IMO website

ILO transport sector website

European Best Practice Guidelines on Cargo Securing for Road Transport (European Commission) English


International Guidelines on Safe Load Securing for Road Transport (IRU) English