Approved Continuous Examination Program


ACEP stands for Approved Continuous Examination Program.  It is one of two approved container safety examination schemes allowed under the CSC (see below).   The regulations covering ACEP are found in the International Convention for Safe Containers (1972) and its amendments and are addressed by the IMO Sub-Committee on the Carriage of Cargo and Container (CCC), under authority of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).

BIC operates the Global ACEP Database under the guidance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has encouraged all National Administrations to utilize the database for the publication of their ACEPs (see CSC.1/CIRC.143 and CSC.1/CIRC.138/REV.1).



In-service CSC safety examinations of containers may be undertaken in accordance with one of two approved schemes.  In either case, it should be noted that the CSC requires the container to be examined at intervals appropriate to operating conditions.  The two approved schemes are:

Periodic Examination Scheme (PES):  this scheme requires the container to be examined before its 5th year anniversary after manufacturing, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 30 months, with the subsequent Next Examination Date (NED) to be marked on the CSC plate.

Approved Continuous Examination Program (ACEP): The CSC allows administrations to approve a continuous examination scheme “if satisfied, on evidence submitted by the owner, that such a Program provides a standard of safety not inferior to the one set out above”.  In other words, containers operated under ACEP must be properly and regularly inspected as part of their regular operation and at a very minimum, within the intervals required under PES. Containers operated under an ACEP scheme must display the scheme number on the CSC plate; this is often in the form of a decal.

Note that administrations are required to review approved Programs once every 10 years, at a minimum and to perform periodic audits (recommended every 5 years).   Finally, the CSC requires administrations to publish a list of all approved examination Programs.

The ACEP scheme is the most common one in practice but both schemes are intended to ensure that containers are maintained at the required level of safety and may be considered as equal.

Who is responsible for ensuring that Safety Examinations are carried out?

CSC regulations assign responsibility for maintaining containers in safe condition to the owner; however practical considerations, commercial practice, and contractual agreements mean that this responsibility is transferred to the party in control of the container.

According to CSC.1./Circular 138/Rev.1, a container being operated by a lessee should, while in-service with that lessee, carry the lessee’s ACEP decal and be examined in accordance with their approved scheme.  In the event the lessee operates under a PES, the owner’s ACEP decal should be removed and a Next Examination Date affixed after the first examination under the lessee’s examination scheme.

ACEP marking

All containers operating under an ACEP scheme must have the appropriate ACEP decal affixed unless the ACEP scheme number is otherwise indelibly marked on the CSC plate.