ICMM holds a Congress every two years. Each Congress is hosted by an ICMM member who has won a bid to hold the event. The aim is to hold Congresses in different countries and on different continents so that delegates have the opportunity to see how other maritime museums operate around the world. Delegates attending ICMM Congresses come from many countries and represent a wide cross section of maritime museums as well as those with an interest in maritime heritage and history. 

The ICMM Executive Council appoints a Programme Committee to arrange the academic content of each Congress. The Congress host museum arranges cultural, sightseeing and just plain fun activities to blend with the academic programme so that delegates have the opportunity to meet, see and sample the people, places, history and culture of the host country. And not to forget the cuisine. 

As well as the programme for ICMM Congress delegates, there is a parallel programme organised for accompanying partners who also take part in most of the social activities organised for the Congress.

Optional post-Congress tours are offered for delegates who would like to explore the host country further before returning home.