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

Phone: +49 40 31 90 71 28
Mail: endorsements@bsh.de

Recognition of foreign certificates

Requirements

Internationally comparable standards in the training and competency of seafarers are a prerequisite for greater ship safety. This also includes uniform requirements for the recognition of foreign certificates. For example, the Annex to the international STCW Convention (Regulations I/10 and I/2.7 ) requires foreign certificates of competency to be checked for authenticity and validity, inter alia, when masters or ship's officers wish to serve on ships of another State. The Administration of the flag State shall then issue an endorsement of recognition.

A certificate of equivalence is issued for competencies not covered by the STCW Convention, including competencies for service on all fishing vessels and for the engine operator (on ships less than 750 kW propulsion power). In Germany, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is responsible for these endorsements of recognition and certificates of equivalence.

Recognition is required for the following foreign certificates:

  • navigational, marine engineering and electro-technical certificates of competency,
  • radio operator's certificates and
  • certificates of proficiency for service on tankers for masters and ship’s officers.

Recognition of certificates of proficiency/ documentary evidence (of qualification) is not required for:

  • service as a crew member at support level,
  • ship safety and security (in accordance with Chapter VI of the Annex to the STCW Convention),
  • service on passenger ships (in accordance with Chapter V of the Annex to the STCW Convention),
  • service on ships subject to the IGF Code (in accordance with Chapter V of the Annex to the STCW Convention),
  • service on ships subject to the POLAR Code (in accordance with Chapter V of the Annex to the STCW Convention).

Please also note our information on employment opportunities for refugees in maritime shipping.

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Conditions for the recognition 

Foreign certificates of competency are recognised if the following is met:

  • Certificates of competency, certificates of proficiency and radio operator's certificates are valid.
  • A German or foreign medical certificate is valid.
  • Certificates have been issued by one of the cooperation states of the Federal Republic of Germany. If this is not the case, an endorsement of recognition may be issued on a case-by-case basis if the certifying state is on the White List.
  • Masters have successfully completed an approved course(for EU masters) on German maritime law and the German language.
  • Ship officers at management level (this includes: chief mate, chief engineer officer, second engineer officer) have successfully completed an approved courseon German maritime law. 

The period of validity of a requested endorsement of recognition may not exceed the period of validity of the related nautical or radio operator's certificate. 

Please note: A master without EU citizenship may obtain a master's recognition endorsement. This allows him service on board as a nautical ship's officer. Service as a master is only possible with EU citizenship; see "Schiffsbesetzungsverordnung" ("Safe Manning Ordinance").

Every shipowner is obliged to check the authenticity and validity of certificates of competency/proficiency and radio operator's certificates (ISM Code). For this purpose, the International Maritime Organization IMO offers a corresponding service on its website with the contact points of the individual flag states.

Application forms

For the sake of the environment:
Please send your applications to the BSH without plastic covers / folders.

Data protection declaration

Here you can find information about the fees (in German only).

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Recognition and medical certificates

Medical certificates must comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention for the recognition of certificates of competency/proficiency and radio operator's certificates. This is the case when

  • the certificate contains the minimum information specified in section A-I/9.7 of the STCW Code (including, inter alia, issuing authority, hearing, visual acuity, colour vision and the seafarer's signature); and
  • the examining doctor is listed in a public register of the relevant STCW Party. The State concerned shall consider such medical practitioners to be sufficiently qualified (Section A-I/9.4 of the STCW Code).

German medical certificates meet the STCW standards. Here you can find the sample of the German certificate and the list of approved doctors.

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List of STCW-compliant foreign medical certificates

For the issuance of endorsements of recognition and certificates for seafarers (e.g. certificates of competency, certificates of proficiency), the BSH may use foreign medical certificates if

  • the certificates are in accordance with the requirements of the STCW Convention and
  • the STCW party keeps an up-to-date list of medical practitioners who are approved to perform medical fitness examinations and provides this list to the public (STCW Code A-I/9 No. 4).

The lists are provided in the following overview and are added to regularly. This table is neither complete nor updated on a daily basis.

State (STCW Party) List of recognised medical practitioners to conduct medical fitness examinations
Web link Pdf document

Antigua & Barbuda

Link to list Antigua & Barbuda

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Bangladesh

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Belgium

Link to list of physicians outside Belgium
Link to list of physicians inside Belgium

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Bulgaria

--

 

Canada

Llink to list Canada

--

China

--

Croatia

Link to list Croatia

--

Cyprus

Link to list Cyprus

--

Czech Republic

 --

 

Denmark

Link to list Denmark

--

Estonia

--

 

Ethiopia

Link to list Ethiopia

--

Finland

Link to list Finland

--

France

--

Georgia

--

Ghana

--

Great Britain

--

Greece

Link to list Greece

Hong Kong

--

Hungary

--

pdf-Symbol.png

Iceland

Link to list Iceland

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India

Link to list India

--

Iran

Link to list Iran

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Ireland

Link to list Ireland

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Italy

Link to list Italy
Supplementary List
Physicians outside of Italy

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Jamaica

--

Latvia

Link to list Latvia

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Lithuania

Link to list Lithuania

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Mauritius

 --

 

Morocco

--

pdf icon

Myanmar

Link to list Myanmar

New Zealand

Link to list New Zealand

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The Netherlands

Link to list of the Netherlands

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Nigeria

Link to list Nigeria

Norway

Link to list Norway

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Pakistan

Link to list Pakistan

--

Panama

Link to list Panama
Link to list of physicians in the Philippinnes recognised by Panama

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Philippinnes

--

 

Poland

Link to list Poland

 

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Portugal

Link to list Portugal

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Romania

Link to list Romania

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Seychelles

--

Slovakia

--

Slovenia

--

South Africa

 --

 

Sri Lanka

Link to list Sri Lanka

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Sweden

Link to list Sweden

 

Switzerland

--

 

Thailand

--

Turkey

--

 

Ukraine

--

You can inform us by e-mail of states which in your opinion issue STCW-compliant medical certificates. We will check this and add this state to the list if confirmed. The verification does not include a review or evaluation of medical findings. Here you will find further information on the different medical quality of foreign medical certificates.

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