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World Maritime Day 2024

The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country but it is always on the last week of September.

World Maritime Day focuses on the marine environment, as well as safety and security for boats and ships..

©iStockphoto.com/Olga Kolos

What Do People Do?

World Maritime Day focuses on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work. The day also features a special message from the IMO’s secretary-general, which is backed up by a discussion paper on the selected subject in more detail.

World Maritime Day is celebrated in many countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Many maritime organizations and unions hold special events and activities to celebrate this day. These activities and events range from symposiums to luncheons, as well as school lessons that focus on the day. Some classes may organize a trip to a maritime museum so students can understand the significance of the maritime industry in shaping world history and its importance in world trade.

Public Life

World Maritime Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


Throughout history, people have understood that international regulations that are followed by many countries worldwide could improve marine safety so many treaties have been adopted since the 19th century. Various countries proposed for a permanent international body to be established to promote maritime safety more effectively but it was not until the UN was established that these hopes were realized. An international conference in Geneva in 1948 adopted a convention formally establishing the IMO, a specialized UN agency that develops and maintains a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping.

The IMO’s original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO. The IMO focuses on areas such as safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.

World Maritime Day was first held on March 17, 1978 to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958. At that time, the organization had 21 member states. It now has about 167 member states and three associate members. This membership includes virtually all the nations of the world with an interest in maritime affairs, including those involved in the shipping industry and coastal states with an interest in protecting their maritime environment.

Note: The dates below are a rough guide on when World Maritime Day is observed, based on the most recent previous dates it was observed by the UN. It is also important to note that the exact date is left to individual governments but is usually celebrated during the last week in September.

World Maritime Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2019ThuSep 26World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2020ThuSep 24World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2021ThuSep 30World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2022ThuSep 29World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2023ThuSep 28World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2024ThuSep 26World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2025ThuSep 25World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2026ThuSep 24World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2027ThuSep 30World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2028ThuSep 28World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance
2029ThuSep 27World Maritime DayUnited Nations observance

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.