Air and sea port health

Infectious disease controls

We enforce infectious disease controls at

  • Leith Docks
  • Edinburgh airport
  • Hound Point oil tanker terminal
  • Hawes pier, South Queensferry.


Every ship which travels outside the UK must have a current ship sanitation certificate. There are control or exemption certificates, depending on the conditions found on the ship, and each lasts for 6 months.

We can also visit ships and take water samples for microbiological, chemical or legionella testing for a reasonable charge. 


Shipping agents should contact us if a ship needs a new sanitation certificate, to arrange water sampling, or if you need advice. The charges from 1 April 2017 for this are listed in the table below.

Ship Inspection Charges
Gross Tonnage Charge (£)
Up to 1000 85
1001 to 3000 120
3001 to 10000 180
10001 to 20000 235
20001 to 30000 305
Over 30000 360

Vessels which can carry between 50 and 1000 persons are £360, and vessels which can carry more than 1000 people are £615.  Extra charges may be made for water sampling, and any extra costs we may incur. Existing certificates can be extended for £55.  Please try where possible to give us 2 days notice.

If there is any infectious disease on a ship, the ships owners or agent must tell us before it arrives. We work with NHS Lothian to investigate the outbreak. A common disease is norovirus but there are many others.


At the airport the crew should call ahead to let us know there are sick passengers on a flight due to land in Edinburgh.  We can then take action such as visiting the aircraft with a medic to assess ill passengers. We can have them isolated or taken to hospital if needed. We may need to have the aircraft cleaned and disinfected before it can leave, and sometimes we need to get the details of other passengers on the flight in case they become ill.

For more information please see the Association of Port Health Authorities website. 

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