The Global ACEP Database is operated by the BIC under the guidance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

To address ACEP publication requirements, as settled by IMO CCC, it is recommended that National Administrations utilize the Global ACEP Database to publish their ACEPs.

Important information related to container prefixes: check FAQS


New European Regulation GDPR (May 2018)

Note to Administrations, Approved Competent Authorities and Container Owners/Operators: 

Please note that the information we will require about your company includes personal data (your name, work e-mail address and work phone).  This personal data will be processed by BIC, an association subject to French law whose registered office is located at 41 rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris. We are collecting these personal data in order to allow the registration of data on our databases on behalf of your employer and will keep your personal data for as long as the data you uploaded on our website is still present. Your personal data is necessary in carrying out our registration role, for us to communicate with your employer and for the performance of the contract executed between us and your employer. It will be processed by our administrative services, to ensure the accuracy and validity of the data uploaded and communicate with you in this respect.  From time to time, we may also use your information to contact you for market research purposes or to inform you of important industry events.  We may contact you by email, phone, or mail.   Your personal information will also be accessible in the Global ACEP Database.
In accordance with EU Regulation 2016/679 dated 27 April 2016 concerning the protection of individuals with respect to the processing of their personal data and the free circulation of these data, you have a right to request from us access to your personal data, their rectification or deletion, the limitation of the processing of your data, as well as to oppose to this processing of your personal data and to benefit from the portability of your personal data. In order to exercise these rights, you may contact us at the following e-mail address:  You also have a right to file a claim with our control authority, the Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés.

What changes in V.3 (March 2018)

  • Search by BIC-Codes implemented
  • Access to persons' details (Administration/ADMIN, ACEP delivering body/ACA, Container Operator/CO) from ACEP detail page

What is ACEP?

ACEP stands for Approved Continuous Examination Program.  An alternative to the Periodic Examination Scheme (PES), the ACEP allows a more flexible plan to operators who demonstrate that each container will be inspected regularly as part of normal operations.  ACEP numbers are issued by National Administrations (or their appointed representatives) to container owners and operators meeting certain requirements.  The regulations covering ACEP are found in the IMO Convention for Safe Containers (1972) as amended, and are addressed by the IMO Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid cargoes and Containers (DSC), under authority of the Maritime Safety Committee.

What is the new requirement?

Prior to 2010, ACEPs had no planned review dates. In 2010 the IMO members states decided that the ACEP programs should reviewed not later than ten years after their date of delivery and should be reviewed thereafter  at periods not longer than every ten years. Along with this change came the new requirement that National Administrations make lists of valid ACEP numbers publicly available. THese change has been introduced in the CSC as amended  to become mandatory.

I understand how ACEP works, now  can you tell me more on the PERIODIC EXAMINATION SCHEME ?

The PES requires that a qualified surveyor examines each container on a regular interval and that the survey report be kept on file. The CSC states that the first examination must take place within five years of the date of manufacture, with subsequent surveys not later than every 30 months.

Which is the better program, ACEP or PES ?

This depends primarily on how the container fleet is operated by the operator in question. For owners and operators able to demonstrate that their operating procedures meet the requirements, the ACEP is clearly more attractive given its flexibility. However, for some (typically smaller) operators, the ACEP may be inappropriate.

How does the ACEP program work for leased containers ?

While a container is on lease, it is the lessee’s situation that applies. Whether on short- or long-term lease, a container on lease is operated under the lessee’s ACEP number if he got one. Whether or not the lessor has an ACEP number for the container is immaterial while that container is on lease.

In the case a container from a lessor with an ACEP is leased to a lessee who has no ACEP, then the container will be operated under PES as long as it is operated by such lessee.

Information on Container PREFIXESas enforced by the Convention for Safe Containers, the ACEP programs are delivered to Container Operators without consideration of the prefixes carried by the containers they operate. Consequently, the information on prefixes provided by the database are just informational and should not be taken into consideration as far as the validity of the ACEP programs are concerned. For a comprehensive list of prefixes registered for an operator, please check

It is stated that national Administrations can appoint Approving Competent Authorities. Who are they ?

These companies are selected by National Administrations as being competent to conduct audits and to deliver ACEP. Generally, these companies have a technical profile, listing among their services the survey of containers. Typically, many of them are Classification Societies.

How do I find an Approving Competent Authority ?

There is currently no IMO document identifying those governments that run ACEP programs, nor the approving competent authorities they may have appointed to conduct audits and registrations. An IMO Circular, CSC.1/Circ.156 (available on IMO public access), identifies Maritime Administrations; we recommend consulting the appropriate Maritime Administration based on the Owner/Operator’s country of domicile.

The BIC is available to assist Owner/Operators in identifying the appropriate ACEP-issuing authority

NOTE : the Circular number changes when a new version is issued. Contact us  should you need more information.

I checked last issue of the above mentionned IMO Circular, and there is no Administration listed for the country where my company is domiciled. How can I get an ACEP?

If there is no government's body listed for your country, you can elect any other country’s administration from the list.

I cannot find the name of the company (Container Operator) in the drop down list when I create an ACEP.

I need to create an ACEP for a company who does not have an ISO prefix registered with BIC.

1. If the company operates containers marked with an ISO-like prefix, they have to register their prefix at BIC.

2. If anyhow this company is missing, contact us before creating the ACEP agreement, we shall fix that.

3. If the company operates containers with a CSC plating without having them carrying an ISO prefix, contact us with the full details of this company, name, address, first name, last name and email of Point Of Entry, we shall create it at once and avise you when you can enter its ACEP number.

Why a Global Database?

With the new requirement came a new challenge:  Given the number of administrations involved, how to make the information readily accessible and truly available to all interested parties?  A single, global database was deemed the only realistic way to ensure adequate visibility.   

Why the BIC?

As a non-profit, neutral, international NGO focused on the intermodal container industry and with over 40 years experience in performing such functions for the container industry, the BIC is pleased to have been asked to host the Global ACEP Database with the support of many member's states. The BIC has been the industry's global container prefix registration authority since 1972 – a service it performs under a mandate from the ISO as well as international customs conventions. The BIC is holds consultative status with the IMO and is a partner organization of the World Customs Organization.

To learn about the BIC’s other services to the container industry please see

What does this mean for me, as a container owner/operator with an ACEP

With the exception of registering your username and password (upon the initial generation of your ACEP in the system by the authorities), no action is required on your part.

How will I know my ACEP information is correctly entered?

1.            By simply reviewing your ACEP in the online database.

2.            You will receive an automated alert anytime your ACEP is modified.

3.            To ensure there are no surprises, you will also receive an automated alert 6/3/1 months prior to the renewal limit date of your ACEP.

Why can't I see a certain ACEP in the database?

The Global ACEP Database is currently in a global deployment phase and some Administrations has not started yet to use it to meet their obligations as enforced by the CSC. The fact that an ACEP is not present in the database DOES NOT MEAN that an ACEP is not valid, it just mean that the country in charge is not publishing its ACEP yet using the database.

Additional countries are being added all the time so please check back soon.

Why is this important?

Safety:  In intermodal transportation containers are interchanged constantly:  Carriers, terminals, barge rail and road operators regularly accept containers belonging to many different parties – including operators that may be unfamiliar. Containers are bought, leased, sub-leased and moved on SOC basis. Knowing that each container is covered by a valid maintenance and repair plan with regular inspections is critical to guaranteeing the safety of shipboard and shore-side personnel, as well as the general public.

Operations:  A Global Database allows for rapid consultation of ACEP Numbers and Operators to ensure an ACEP is valid – anywhere in the world.   Moreover, the CSC allows a container operated by an operator with a valid ACEP Number to continue its current voyage, even if the ACEP number decal is missing from the container. Allowing control officers an easy way to verify validity eliminates potential delays.

Visibility:  A Global Database provides full visibility of ACEP programs to all interested parties and keeps Operators, Administrations and  Approving Competent Authorities all on the same page through instant online visibility of expiration dates and automated notifications.

I can’t find an answer to my question above.

Contact us

Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal

41, Rue Réaumur, 75003 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel: +33 147 660 390 | Fax: +33 147 660 891

BV Certification ISO-9001-2015

© 2019 Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal

By using this website, you agree that we can set and use cookies. For more details of these cookies and how to disable them, see our cookie policy and our privacy notice.