Ice Classes of Ships

A Finnish ice class is confirmed for all ships calling to Finnish ports. The fairway dues paid by the vessel and the availability of icebreaker escort are determined based on the Finnish ice class. Finnish ice classes are based on the Finnish-Swedish Ice Class Rules, which are developed in co-operation by the Finnish and Swedish authorities.

The Finnish-Swedish Ice Class Rules (FSICR) have been developed by the FInnish and Swedish authorities based on accumulated experience and extensive research. The aim of the rules is to ensure that ships engaged in trade in the Northern Baltic Sea have sufficient capability in ice to maintain safe and efficient navigation year round to Finnish and Swedish ports. Finland has implemented the FSICR by issuing national Ice Class Regulations.

Traficom is responsible in Finland for developing the FSICR and confirming Finnish ice class for vessels calling to Finnish ports. The Finnish Customs is responsible for levying the fairway dues (External link) and the Transport Infrastructure Agency is in charge of the operational aspects of winter navigation (External link), such as setting assistance restrictions for Finnish ports. Assistance restrictions set the minimum ice class and deadweight needed in order to be eligible for icebreaker assistance.

Ice class regulations applied to a vessel

The construction date of a ship determines which ice class regulations are applied to it. Further information is in section 1 of the 2017 Ice Class Regulation.

In order to retain ice class IA Super or IA a ship, the keel of which has been laid or which has been at a similar stage of construction before 1 September 2003, shall comply with the requirements of the 2017 Ice Class Regulation not later than 1 January in the year when twenty years have elapsed since the year the ship was delivered. The ship's owner is responsible for demonstrating compliance with the current ice class rules.

The new machine power requirement affects only the Finnish ice class of the ship. The classification notation of the ship is determined based on the rules of the classification society. If may be noted on the classification certification or its appendix whether the machinery power requirement is calculated according to the new requirement.

Winter Navigation Research

Keeping the ice class rules up to date and preparing for future challenges in Baltic winter navigation requires constant research and development work. Therefore, Traficom, the Finnish Fairway Agency as well as the Swedish Maritime Administration fund yearly research projects that aim to benefit winter navigation. The call for papers is published each June and funding decisions are made each October.

Results of the research projects are published in the series Winter Navigation Research Reports. The publications are available through Traficom's website .

Call for winter navigation research projects

Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom), Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, Swedish Maritime Authority (SMA) and the Swedish Transport Agency invite research institutions to apply for financing for winter navigation research projects for 2020. The special research topics for 2020 are towing arrangements of merchant vessels. Applications should be submitted using the provided form no later than 13.9.2019 to Traficom and SMA.

Further information concerning Finnish ice class: Special Adviser Lauri Kuuliala , +358 29 534 7078.

Further information concerning the ice class register and confirming a Finnish ice class: iceclass@traficom.fi .

Regulations concerning ice classes

Guidelines for the application of the ice class rules

Traficom publishes a guideline document for the application of the ice class rules in cooperation with the Swedish authorities. The guidelines contain background information and interpretations of the rules.