Security training for staff working in ports

Security training requirements in UK ports for staff and approved training providers.


If you manage a port facility in the UK, you’ll need to appoint a port facility security officer (PFSO). This is a requirement under the International Ship and Port Facility Code (ISPS Code). The code is implemented in the UK through the Ship and Port Facility (Security) Regulations 2004, as amended.

You’ll need to appoint a PFSO to cover each port facility, although a single officer may have responsibility for more than one facility. The definition of a ‘port facility’ includes areas such as anchorages, waiting berths and approaches from seaward. This can range from a large sea freight terminal to an individual berth or wharf.

Any PFSO you appoint must complete a training course by a training provider approved by the Maritime and Transport Security (MTS) division, formerly TRANSEC, at the Department for Transport (DfT).

You also need to provide training for other staff carrying out security functions. You should consider providing general security awareness training to other, non-security staff working at the port facility.

Port facility security officer training

All PFSOs in the UK must attend a training course run by a provider approved by the Maritime Transport Security (MTS) division at DfT.

The aim of the training is to provide an appointed PFSO with the knowledge and skills they need to comply with the rules and regulations set out in the ISPS Code.

Non-approved training

Training companies that haven’t been approved by MTS are currently offering PFSO course training to ports and port facilities.

MTS doesn’t recognise certification or approval from any training provider other than those listed on this website. If you’ve appointed a PFSO who’s attended a course delivered by an unapproved training provider, they may need to attend further courses from an approved provider on the DfT list.

You should contact MTS if you’ve been approached by an unapproved training provider.

Training material from DfT covering port security training

If you manage staff who work in and around ports and ships, you can use training resources from the DfT as part of your security training programme.

As well as resources for training staff with specific security duties, DfT also provides material for the general security awareness training of all staff.

Training films

You can order training films from DfT covering the following specific maritime security topics:

  • Safe harbours: port security and you - suitable for induction training of all staff working in ports
  • Maritime freight security - for security staff working in passenger (PAX) or container roll-on roll-off (CRR) port facilities
  • Security: everybody’s business - intended to assist with the security awareness training of ships’ crews

These films are supplied free of charge to UK port operators and companies operating UK-registered ships.

Other training films which are not specific to the maritime environment but cover the provision of effective security measures are also available.

Learning packages

DfT also provides hard copy training materials for maritime security.

  • Training for port security staff - a set of voluntary training modules intended for the initial training and refresher training of security staff which cover all the requirements set out in the port facility security instructions issued by the DfT
  • Drills and exercises guidance - a document that acts as an ‘aide memoire’ and provides basic guidance to those involved in organising maritime security drills and exercises - in addition a handbook on drills and exercises approved by the European Commission (PDF, 14MB) has been published

More information about the range of maritime security training aids and how to order them.

Getting approved as a training provider

If you want to deliver PFSO training courses, you can find out how to apply for MTS approval by writing to:

Maritime security - PFSO training
MTS, Department for Transport
Zone 2/33 Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR

You can also contact MTS maritime security on:
Telephone: 0300 330 3000

Published 21 September 2012