New requirements for NOx emissions for vessels engaged in Chinese domestic trade

To improve the quality of Chinese domestic shipping and promote the environmentally friendly development of water transport within China, on 3 July 2018 Chinese Ministry of Transport published new requirements for the emission of the nitrogen oxides (NOx). They are also applicable for second-hand vessels involved in Chinese domestic transport.

China - domestic water
Yangtze river

Relevant for ship owners and managers. 

The new NOx regulations are applicable for diesel engines installed on either:

  • Imported vessels (acquired second-hand from international owners) or
  • Chinese-flagged, international sailing vessels

which are only involved in Chinese domestic transport (either coastal or inland). They are required to comply with the IMO Tier II emission limits. This limitation applies to vessels imported after 1 September 2018 and to vessels converted to be engaged in domestic trade only after 1 September 2018. The NOx emission regulations cover vessels operating within the following waters: 

Coastal waters

  • Chinese National 12 nm zone
  • Hainan Island waters

Inland waterways

  • All navigable waters of Yangtze River
  • All other inland navigable waterways of major cities
Military vessels, fishing vessels, sport boats, and ships which are used for navigation and berthing are exempted. The Chinese Ministry of Transport is currently considering further stricter requirements for NOx emissions of diesel engines installed on ships involved in Chinese domestic trade. The requirements, referring to the IMO Tier II emission limits, will be applicable to both newbuild vessels (most probably after July 2020) and ships in operation (most probably after July 2021). In case Tier 2 emission limits cannot be met, shore power might be required for these domestic trading ships. The details, however, are under development.


If your vessel has a keel laying date before 1 January 2010, it might be a challenge to convert some diesel engines to the Tier II emission limits, and without a conversion, it may be more difficult to sell your vessel to Chinese owners for domestic trade. However, some engine manufacturers offer a solution to upgrade engine(s) to the Tier II emission limits.


Website of Chinese Ministry of Transport


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20 October 2020

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