Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Referat S 12
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Weitere Kontaktmöglichkeiten

Phone: +49 40 31 90-71 25
Fax: +49 40 31 90-50 10
Mail: zeugnisse@bsh.de

Extension of validity

Validity extension of certificates for seafarers

For certificates of competency and certificates of proficiency with a limited period of validity, you must apply for an extension of validity to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). This also applies to certificates of competency issued by the "Hafen- und Seemannsamt Rostock" for graduates of maritime training facilities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

You do not have to apply for an extension of validity for:

  • the following certificates of proficiency:
    • Certificate of proficiency for service on passenger ships 
    • Basic safety training
    • Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats (as well as fast rescue boats)
    • Advanced fire-fighting

The BSH does not issue new documents after participation in the respective refresher courses for these certificates of proficiency. For service on passenger ships only a kind of certificate of qualification from the course provider that is simimlar to a certificate of proficiency is accepted.
For the three other courses, the certificate of proficiency together with the current refresher course certificate of the provider are valid as proof.

  • Seafarer's Card
    It is issued with a validity of ten years and must then be re-applied for. Further information and the application form can be found on this website under Seafarer's Card.

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Prerequisite: Continued competency

Seagoing service

To extend the validity of a certificate of competency or certificate of proficiency, you must provide evidence of continued competency, which is achieved in particular with seagoing service.
For details, please refer to the relevant application forms and information on seagoing service and ships.

If you are applying for an extension of validity for a certificate of competency, but for the last five years you have mostly worked on ships that do not meet the requirements for an extension of validity or you have worked onshore, you may also demonstrate your competency with

  • seagoing service of 1 ½ months within the last five years with activities equivalent to those certified with the certificate of competency to be extended in validity and
  • approved types of work(in German only) of at least 12 months within the last five years.

Seagoing service for re-entering professionally

If the validity of your certificate of competency has expired and you have not completed any corresponding seagoing service (re-entering professionally), upon application, the BSH can issue a certificate of competency in a correspondingly lower rank so that you can complete seagoing service again. In this case, the other requirements (valid proof of identity, valid certificate of fitness for sea service, current qualifications in ship safety and security) must be met. If, however, you fail to provide proof of continued competency with this certificate, your competency will not be downgraded again at the next extension of validity.

Seagoing service on authority vessels

On merchant ships, the ISM Code (International Safety Management Code), among others, is applicable and the crew is regularly trained accordingly; authority vessels, on the other hand, are not subject to the ISM Code. If a master (NK and NK 500), chief mate, chief engineer officer or second engineer officer wish to demonstrate continued competency with seagoing service on authority vessels, they must also complete a course as defined in the ISM Code . This course serves as proof of equivalency of seagoing service on authority vessels with seagoing service on merchant ships and must meet the following criteria:

  • Participation in the course is intended to promote ship safety and marine environment protection.
  • The authority responsible for the operation of the ship has decided which course the master or ship's officer will attend.
  • In principle, the course must not be approved by the Ship Safety Division (Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit), the Maritime Medical Service (Seeärztlicher Dienst) or the BSH, as these courses are already required by legal instruments other than the ISM Code. 

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Continued competency (nautical / maritime radio)

The continued competency (nautical) can alternatively be proven by participation in a BSH-approved course.

You can alternatively prove the continued competency as radio operator by attending an approved refresher course or by successfully passing an examination as radio operator at the BSH.

The simplified exam for maritime radio at the BSH will be held (as of April 2016) on every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, in the morning from 09:00 to 10:00. In principle, you must register ten working days before the date of the exam. You can only register for this exam in conjunction with a complete application for an extension of validity for the respective radio operator's certificate. You will be accepted for the exam if you can credibly demonstrate all other certification required for the extension of validity.

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Application forms

Please note the following:

  • You can process only one form at a time (not several).
  • You must send your applications to the BSH by post or fax (applications by e-mail are not possible).
  • For the sake of environment: Please send your applications to BSH without plastic envelopes or folders.

Data protection declaration

If more than one certificate is issued for a seafarer at the same time, the fees may be reduced. Click here for more information on fees.

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