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Port State Control Division (CG-CVC-2)

QUALSHIP 21 Initiative


What is QUALSHIP 21?

Coast Guard efforts to eliminate substandard shipping have focused on improving methods to identify poor-quality vessels (targeting schemes). However, regardless of the score that a vessel receives in our targeting matrix, all foreign-flagged vessels are examined no less than once each year. This provides few incentives for the well run, quality ship. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of vessels are operated responsibly, and are typically found with few or no deficiencies. Under our current policies, vessels operating at a higher-quality share nearly the same examination intervals as those vessels operating at lower-quality standards. These high-quality vessels should be recognized and rewarded for their commitment to safety and quality. Therefore, on January 1, 2001, the Coast Guard implemented an initiative to identify high-quality ships, and provide incentives to encourage quality operations. This initiative is called QUALSHIP 21, quality shipping for the 21st century.


What is E-Zero?

Beginning July 1st, 2017, vessels enrolled in the QUALSHIP 21 program may also seek the E-Zero designation if they meet the requirements set forth below. The E-Zero program is a new addition to the existing QUALSHIP 21 program, and the intent of this program is to recognize those exemplary vessels that have consistently adhered to environmental compliance, while also demonstrating an immense commitment to environmental stewardship. These vessels will receive the E-Zero designation on their QUALSHIP 21 certificate.


The Qualship21 Program & E-Zero Designation

The Qualship21 pamphlet provides a full overview of the program including incentives, eligibility requirements and application instructions.


Applying to Qualship21 & E-Zero

For those companies that believe their vessel(s) qualify for the USCG's QUALSHIP 21 Program or QUALSHIP 21 with E-Zero Designation applications must be made using the application below.   For vessels with existing QUALSHIP 21 certificate desiring to add the E-Zero Designation, please use the second application located below.  In order to receive the E-Zero designation, a vessel must be currently in QUALSHIP 21 and remained in the program for a minimum of the last three years to qualify.  All applications should be e-mailed to


Qualified Flag Administrations

Before any ship can be enrolled into QS21, it’s flag Administration must be qualified for the QS21 program. For a flag administration to become qualified, they must meet the following eligibility criteria:
  1. Its three-year rolling detention ratio must be less than 1.0%.
  2. Have at least ten PSC exams conducted in the United States credited to their ships in each of the previous three years.

To become fully qualified for the program, those eligible flag Administrations are required to submit an Executive Summary from their Member State Audit Scheme audit to . If the flag Administration has not yet undergone an audit, they can submit a letter attesting to the fact they have not yet undergone the audit but have submitted their request to be audited. Flags will remain QS21 qualified for a one-year period beginning on July 1st. Once qualified, a flag can remain qualified if their eligibility status does not change based on the calculation of the annual PSC data.


The following flag administrations have met all the requirements for full participation in the QUALSHIP 21 program (Valid through the end of June 2024):


7/2023 - 6/2024
Barbados Belgium
Bermuda Cayman Islands
China Denmark
Greece Hong Kong
Jamaica Japan
Liberia Malta
Marshall Islands Netherlands
Norway Panama
Philippines Portugal
Republic of Korea Saudi Arabia
Singapore United Kingdom


New Certification Numbers on QS21 Certificates:

In March 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard began issuing Qualship 21 Program certificates to Flag Administrations, and vessels with a unique identification number. You may note on our website that we have begun to include these numbers next to the associate party. Please note that we will not issue new certificates to vessels with these identification numbers until their next renewal. The lack of a identification number on an existing current certificate does not make the certificate invalid. It will take two or more years for all of the Qualship 21 certificates, without identification numbers, to be replaced. If there is ever any question on the validity of any certificate associated with our Qualship 21 Program, you should contact the Qualship 21 Program coordinator by phone at +1-202-372-1587 or by e-mail at


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