Open House Festival

International Maritime Organization

embassy/high commission

Douglass Marriott Worby & Robinson, 1983

4 Albert Embankment, SE1 7SR

The International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the UN, responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. It is the only UN organization with headquarters in London.

Getting there


Vauxhall, Lambeth North


Waterloo, Vauxhall


344, 360, 77, 507, C10


Accessibility notes

A children's activity area will also be available.



The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.

A​​s a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.

Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.

As part of the United Nations family, IMO is actively working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, most of the elements of the 2030 Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector supporting world trade and facilitating the global economy.

The IMO building

The IMO building is the headquarters of the Organization and was formally opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 17 May 1983. It was purpose-built by the Government, which remains IMO's landlord, and overlooks the River Thames by Lambeth Bridge.

In addition to office accommodation for some 300 international civil servants, the building features:

• a state-of-the-art 700-seat conference hall, where the Organization's Member States meet to discuss issues of importance to international shipping;
• two further, smaller conference rooms and a range of other meeting facilities;
• a remarkable collection of gifts (artworks, sculptures, hangings, models) donated to the Organization over the years; and
• an outstanding view of the Houses of Parliament from the fourth-floor terrace.

A monumental bronze sculpture, the International Memorial to Seafarers, stands by the main entrance. It was designed by Michael Sandle and was unveiled by IMO Secretary-General William A. O'Neil on 27 September 2001.

Information for visitors:

1. When signing in at registration, visitors over the age of 18 must have valid UK driving license, passport or bank/credit card. Visitors will be refused access if they do not have a form of ID.
2. Visitors must carry their coats, jackets, bags and personal items. There will be no cloakrooms and the IMO will not allow bags/personal items to be left with security.
Visitors are advised to only bring with them an over-the-shoulder small rucksack, handbags and purses. Visitors arriving with suitcases will be refused.
3. All visitors will be subject to a bag search.
4. Security will refuse visitors that come by motor bike, car, e-scooter/e-bikes, push bikes/scooters.
5. There is to be no vaping throughout the building. Roof terrace is permitted.
6. There is no restriction for guide dogs or wheelchair users.
7. Visitors to drink and eat in the restaurant area and to use bins provided.
8. Visitors misbehaving and drunk will be refused access.

SHE_SEES Rewriting Women into Maritime (RWM) Exhibition

In 2023, IMO is hosting the SHE_SEES: Rewriting Women into Maritime (RWM) exhibition, which features stories of women in maritime – past, present and future.

This exhibition celebrates the first year of the RWM initiative – a collaboration launched by Lloyd’s Register and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation with more than 30 leading maritime organisations to change perceptions on the historical role of women in shipping.

SHE_SEES features stories of women in maritime – past, present and future. For many years, women have played an important and instrumental role in maritime but all too often they have been overlooked or simply forgotten. For the first time, we will share their stories and shine a light on their incredible contribution to the industry.

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