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The Baltic and International Maritime Council, otherwise known as BIMCO, is a global trade association for shipowners, ship operators, shipping brokers and other shipping stakeholders involved in the international maritime industry. Founded in 1905, BIMCO has grown to become a highly influential international organisation that plays a central role in promoting standardisation, transparency and professionalism within shipping. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, BIMCO provides a broad range of services for the shipping and maritime sectors, such as standards and contracts aimed at enabling the seamless and efficient flow of commodities across the world’s oceans.


What does BIMCO stand for?


The name BIMCO is an acronym, standing for the Baltic and International Maritime Council. 


What is the purpose of BIMCO?

The main purpose of BIMCO is to foster standardisation, transparency and professionalism across the global maritime industry. The organisation plays a key role in supporting smooth international trade by offering a framework for fair and efficient shipping transactions. BIMCO serves several purposes, including:

  • Standardisation
    Providing standard contracts and agreements covering the full spectrum of shipping operations. With clear terms and conditions, these documents offer a widely accepted framework for conducting business in the maritime sector.

  • Information and research
    Offering intelligence, market analysis and research that gives members valuable industry insight which they can use to help navigate the complexities of global shipping.

  • Education and training
    Developing and delivering training that educates maritime professionals on best practices, regulations and industry trends in key topic areas including the law, commercial issues, safety, and environmental considerations.

  • Advocacy and representation
    BIMCO aims to shape global shipping policies and regulations by representing its members at international forums such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations (UN).

  • Best practices
    Developing guidelines that encourage responsible and sustainable shipping. Promoting safety and environmental best practice for the maritime industry.

  • Documentation and administrative services
    Streamlining the administrative processes involved in maritime transactions for more efficient shipping and trade.

What are BIMCO terms?

BIMCO develops and publishes a variety of standardised contracts, agreements, and T&Cs for various aspects of the shipping and maritime industry: collectively, these are commonly known as ‘BIMCO terms’. BIMCO terms are widely used in international shipping transactions, offering a well-established universal framework for different parties to use when conducting business. Some well-known BIMCO terms include:


  • BIMCO Standard Charter Parties
    BIMCO produces a number of standard contracts for charter party agreements, including the BIMCO Voyage Charter Party and the BIMCO Time Charter Party. These set out the relevant terms and conditions for chartering vessels for specific journeys or time periods.

  • BIMCO Bills of Lading
    BIMCO publishes standardised forms which can be used as Bills of Lading (BoL). These documents set out specific information about the goods/cargo being shipped, as well as the terms of carriage and other important details.

  • BIMCO Shipping Documents
    BIMCO has developed a range of standard shipping documents for use by the international shipping community, including the BIMCO Charter Party Laytime Definitions and the BIMCO Shipmaster’s Security Manual. These help promote clarity and consistency in transactions across the sector.

  • BIMCO Crew Management Agreements
    As well as providing standard documentation for shipping transactions, BIMCO also publishes contracts relating to the employment and management of crew on-board vessels.

  • BIMCO Sale and Purchase Agreements
    By publishing standardised agreements for the sale and purchase of vessels, BIMCO provides a common framework for shipping transactions. This in turn helps streamline the process and reduces the potential for disputes.

    BIMCO provides documentation specifically relating to the hire of tugs and towage services. These standardised templates set out terms and conditions and can be used by parties when negotiating contracts for ocean towage operations.

  • BIMCO Offshore Services Contracts
    BIMCO publishes standard contracts covering various offshore services. For example, the BIMCO Offshore Support Vessel Supplytime agreement can be used for offshore support vessel operations.


BIMCO terms support smooth business operations across the global shipping industry. They help to ensure that all parties involved in a maritime transaction understand and are familiar with any applicable terms, which in turn reduces the opportunity for disputes. Furthermore, BIMCO terms encourage compliance with best practice and industry standards for safer, more sustainable shipping operations.