Questions & Answers

Am I a Member or Associate of ITOPF?

If your ship is insured for pollution liability by one of the 13 P&I Clubs that is a member of the International Group P&I Clubs (IGP&I), then the answer to the question will probably be yes. If your insurer is not one of these IGP&I Clubs, it is still possible that you could be a Member or Associate. If you are unsure, your pollution insurer can advise whether or not your ship is entered with ITOPF. 

What is the difference between a Member and an Associate?

Members are the owners or bareboat charterers of tankers (ie ships that are designed, constructed or adapted to carry liquid in bulk, primarily oil and chemicals but also liquefied gases, wine and even water). Membership extends to ships that are not self-propelled, e.g.barges. Associates are the owners or bareboat charterers of all other types of ship which include bulk carriers, container ships, car carriers, cruise ships, ferries, supply vessels, etc. The full definition of Member and Associate is provided in the Terms & Conditions section of our Handbook.

How do I become a Member or Associate of ITOPF and how much will it cost?

Entry of a ship will normally be made via a P&I insurer. Shipowners are not routinely required to contact us directly in order to become a Member or Associate of ITOPF as this is included as part of  P&I cover.  Proof of Membership is provided by the ITOPF Membership Record Form (also known as an ITOPF certificate). If you have not received a copy, please contact your P&I insurer or our Membership Secretary. There is no certification required for Associate status. If you wish to verify that your vessel is entered as an Associate with ITOPF, please confirm with our Membership Secretary.

Annual dues are decided by ITOPF’s Board of Directors and levied across all shipowners. The amount payable is calculated according to the tonnage of the ship(s) entered. For administrative ease, payment of dues is normally done via the P&I insurer. Members are entered individually because ITOPF is legally obliged to keep a record of Members and account for VAT where applicable. Associate tonnage is entered en-bloc by the P&I insurers.

Can I enrol an FPSO, FSU or inland tanker as a Member of ITOPF?

Yes, the owners or bareboat charterers of Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) units, Floating Storage Units (FSU) and inland tankers all qualify as Members of ITOPF. Please enquire with your P&I Club or ITOPF if you have a similar facility or vessel that you wish to enrol with us.

What do we receive on joining ITOPF?

All ITOPF Members will receive an ITOPF Membership Record Form (MRF) for each tanker enrolled.This will either be received directly from ITOPF or via the ‘Recipient of the MRF’ as recorded on the ITOPF Membership database.The MRF should be kept on board the tanker in case it is requested as proof of pollution cover at port or during a ship inspection.

Throughout the year, Members will also automatically receive copies of ITOPF’s publications (Handbook, Annual Review and Ocean Orbit). These are sent electronically and in hard copy. Please notify us if you would like to opt out of one or other format. Members will also receive the occasional mailing from ITOPF with information pertinent to ITOPF operations or spill preparedness and response.

Associates do not automatically receive any correspondence from ITOPF. However, we would be happy to add you to our general mailing list to receive publications and other notices. Please contact if you would like to be added to the mailing list or subscribe to publications via our Subscription Page.

Can I have direct access to ITOPF’s Membership database?

P&I insurers, Members and the MRF recipients can all view their own tanker details and retrieve duplicate copies of MRFs from the ITOPF Membership database. P&I insurers only can also access a reports area to monitor and receive instant updates of their vessels during the renewal period. To gain access to the database, please contact Karen Young, Membership Secretary. 

Associate details are not included on the Membership database.

How is ITOPF activated?

ITOPF is normally activated by a P&I insurer. Occasionally, we might be notified of an incident by a shipowner directly, the cargo owner, government agencies, local authorities, correspondents or surveyors, spill response organisations, or port authorities.

If a particular ship is not a Member or Associate how might I gain access to ITOPF’s services during an incident and what would this cost?

For a ship that is not a Member or Associate, access to our services may be available on a consultancy basis at ITOPF’s discretion. In this case, technical assistance for a ship that is not a Member or Associate would incur a daily fee plus expenses.

Does ITOPF provide advice for incidents where there is a threat of a spill but no spill has occurred?

Yes, ITOPF will provide technical assistance for incidents where there is the risk of a spill. In many cases, prompt advice given as a contingency in the event of a spill can mitigate pollution damage. This advice can be provided on-site or remotely depending upon the severity and circumstances of the incident. If the likelihood of a spill is high we recommend travelling to site as ITOPF can work with responders and government agencies locally to protect sensitive resources and build trust. 

Does ITOPF provide advice for spills of other marine pollutants and cargoes?

Yes, our remit includes response to incidents involving spills of oil, HNS, and other cargoes that may adversely affect the marine environment. For example, we have responded to spills of wheat and coal and lost shipping containers.

Does ITOPF provide advice for incidents involving physical damage?

If, for example, a ship goes aground or drags anchor, we can provide advice in the case of physical damage to sensitive resources, e.g. corals, fish cages etc. We can also assist with identifying appropriate remedies and damage assessment.

Does ITOPF respond to incidents that do not involve ships?

Our shipowners have first call on our services. However, we have previously provided advice on-site for spills of oil originating from offshore platforms, pipelines, storage tanks and other facilities. Such advice is provided at our discretion and on a consultancy basis, for which we would charge a daily fee plus expenses.

Does ITOPF respond on-site for all incidents?

If the incident is unlikely to result in pollution damage or the spill is small, our attendance on site may not be needed and we can provide advice from the office. In some cases, ITOPF’s advice on the assessment of claims for compensation from an incident that occurred some time ago is needed. In such cases we may carry out much of the work from the office although our support at meetings to discuss the technical merit of claims is sometimes called for. 

Is there anywhere you won’t travel?

ITOPF's primary role is to provide emergency support and advice for incidents and we aim to be on site as quickly as possible, if warranted by the severity of the incident. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our staff and prior to travel our team will carry out a risk assessment. There are usually two risk factors that will affect our ability to travel to an incident:

Travel risk: i.e. if there are no means of transport that meet our safety criteria. 

Personal risk: i.e. if there is no way of travelling to site without passing through zones that are considered dangerous, for example, due to political instability, risk of kidnapping or for public health (ie Covid-19) environmental reasons. In such cases, we will explore ways to mitigate the risk but if the risk is deemed too great or (in the case of Covid) international travel is restricted, we will attempt to assist remotely or possibly from a safer location nearby.

Who should we contact if we have a technical query?

For non-urgent queries, you can contact one of our technical advisers during normal office hours, either by telephone or email. Our technical team has a broad spectrum of expertise and, as such, it is not necessary to identify a particular individual as all are available to answer queries.

To contact ITOPF in an emergency, for example to notify us of a spill of oil, please follow the emergency contact procedure.

Is ITOPF able to assist with company contingency planning, training and spill exercises or drills and would this incur a charge?

ITOPF has assisted many industry and government organisations with their training and exercise programmes and the review or preparation of contingency plans. We consider these services to be an important part of our non-emergency work. All of our Members and Associates have access to these services and pay only ITOPF’s out-of-pocket expenses. These services may also be provided to shipowners that are not entered with ITOPF on a consultancy basis. Savings can be made if it is possible to combine these activities with other work that ITOPF may be undertaking in the same location, or if they can be organised in conjunction with other interested parties. To enquire about costs and for further details of your specific requirements, please contact our Technical Director.

Why is the organisation called ITOPF?

ITOPF was established in 1968 as The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. Its original purpose was to administer a voluntary oil spill compensation agreement called TOVALOP (Tanker Owners Voluntary Agreement concerning Liability for Oil Pollution) in the wake of the TORREY CANYON incident. The Agreement remained in place until 1997 pending widespread ratification of the Civil Liability Convention which provides compensation in the case of spills of persistent oil from tankers. Over this period ITOPF established a reputation as the industry’s primary source of objective technical advice for spills of oil and chemicals from ships. Although originally established by tanker owners, the growing proportion of fuel oil spills arising from other types of ship led to ITOPF extending its services to all ships in February 1999. Whilst the full name no longer accurately reflected our remit, it was felt at that stage that a change of name might be detrimental as it was so well known within the industry. Over time, however, the acronym has increasingly been used in favour of the full name and the full name was officially dropped altogether on the occasion of our 50th anniversary in 2018.

Any other questions?

Please contact Karen Young, Membership Secretary, in the first instance.