Marine Immersion (BS 5609)


Labels are typically used for identification, warning and instruction applied to drums containing chemicals.


British Standard BS 5609 is a specification for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated labels for marine use, including requirements for label base material. It sets out various durability criteria including adhesive performance, print permanence and abrasion resistance, stipulating minimum standards for labels to be used in "Marine Environments”.

BS 5609 testing is a requirement for self adhesive drum labels needing International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) certification. Testing includes a 3 month exposure of labelled test plates in salt water at mid-tide.



BS 5609 comprises four parts. Sections 2 and 3 are key and detail the tests to be carried out on the base label material and printed labels respectively. Tests of the print method described in Section 3 can only be made on base labels that have already met the requirements of Section 2. Also, if a print method has been tested on Label A, it doesn't automatically follow that it will comply on Label B. For complete compliance it is necessary to validate specific combinations of ink and base label.


Section 3 tests

• Print key effectiveness: resistance to print removal using adhesive tape
• Abrasion resistance: legibility and contrast after rolling in a mixture of sand and artificial sea water
• Permanence of print: colour fastness and residual contrast after exposure to artificial salt spray and sunlight