Port state control (PSC) is an international regime to inspect the foreign ships coming to the port state in order to ensure that they are compliant with various international conventions. In this study, we conduct a review of the literature related to the PSC inspection in four areas: factors influencing the PSC inspection results, inspected ship selection scheme, effect of PSC inspection, and suggestions to improve PSC inspection. We found that both ship factors and non-ship factors would influence the PSC inspection outcomes, and the PSC inspection could improve the safety level of maritime industry and protect marine environment. Meanwhile, there is still room to improve the PSC inspection, including adopting more efficient methods to select high-risk ships, constructing combined databases and harmonization the PSC inspection authorities. It is expected that more research in improving and summarizing the PSC inspection will emerge in the coming years. We believe that this review can shed light on the development of PSC-related studies.