Ballast Water Management



All ships calling at US ports and intending to discharge ballast water must either carry out ballast water exchange or treatment, in addition to fouling and sediment management. The US has its compliance schedule determining when a vessel must begin to employ treatment instead of exchange. US legislation requires the ballast water treatment system (BWTS) to be type- approved by the USCG. Currently, 16 BWTS have received such USCG type approval. DNV GL has been recognized as an Independent Laboratory by the USCG since 2013 to evaluate and test BWTS according to USCG regulations for type approval. 


The revised US Coast Guard (USCG) regulations on ballast water management entered into force 21 June 2012. The regulations require compliance with the treatment standard at the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 January 2016 for sailing ships, and at delivery for newbuildings. Before any type approved systems were available, the USCG allowed shipowners to apply for an extension of their compliance date, on the basis of lack type approved systems available in the market. As of February 2019, there are 16 approved treatment systems wich have obtained USCG type approval and 10 are under review. An overview of approved systems can be found here. The USCG has not removed the extension option for shipowners, but obtaining on an extension due to lack of type approved systems will now be more difficult because shipowners must prove that none of the systems available are suitable for their vessel. 

Previously, vessels could receive an extension of 5 years by employing an Alternative Management System (AMS), normally an IMO-type approved system which had received an AMS approval from USCG. At the end of the 5-year extension period, if the AMS has not received USCG type approval, the AMS extension will not be automatically renewed.

Another option to comply with the regulations is to use potable water (from the US public water system). In such cases the ballast tanks need to be cleaned and sediments removed beforehand. Further information regarding extensions and regulations can be found on the USGC website, home port


The USCG regulations require the same discharge standards as the IMO regulations, but the USCG regulations also contain some additional requirements regarding a ship’s operational procedures that go beyond the IMO’s requirements:

  • Clean ballast tanks regularly to remove sediments
  • Rinse anchors and chains when the anchor is retrieved
  • Remove fouling from the hull, piping and tanks on a regular basis
  • Maintain a BWM Plan that includes the above in addition to BWM (there is no requirement that the BWM Plan must be approved)
  • Maintain records of ballast and fouling management
  • Submit a report form 24 hours before calling at a US port

The EPA and VGP (Vessel General Permit) has additional requirements for periodical sampling as specified below:

  • Calibration of sensors
  • Sampling of biological indicators 
  • Sampling of residual biocides 

The records of the periodical sampling must be retained on board for 3 years.

Type approval

As an independent laboratory for USCG, DNV GL is currently involved in about 20 BWTS for USCG type approvals in various stages around the world. We are dedicated to assisting manufacturers with the USCG type approval process of their BWTS. Please use the “Contact us” form or visit our FAQ site to gain further information about this service.

Related downloads and links

DNV GL approval programme for service suppliers engaged in BWMS testing

See Appendix B, Chap.8 for "Environmental testing" and Chap.9 for "Biological efficacy testing"

USCG on Ballast Water Management

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USCG Regulations for BWMS

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BWM insights - Regulatory status, applicable treatment technologies and compliance solution

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Ballast Water Management services

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