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

Phone: +49 40 31 90 71 25
Mail: zeugnisse@bsh.de

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

Refugees in the maritime sector

Mandatory requirements

  • The first mandatory requirement for employment or training in maritime shipping is an internationally valid passport, which allows entry and exit to all countries worldwide.
  • Furthermore, refugees must clarify their status and permission to work with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). The BAMF also offers a hotline in this regard.
  • Applicants must also demonstrate sufficient German language skills. These are required for dual vocational training (ship mechanic) or attendance at a technical college/university (to obtain a navigational, technical or electro-technical certificate of competency). Points of contact for integration courses and German language development are the BAMF as well as the employment agencies and the job centers.
  • Please also find out at the BAMF whether you can start an apprenticeship or a course of study in Germany at all - also independently of maritime studies.

Foreign certificates of competency and qualifications

Foreign certificates (certificates of competency and certificates of proficiency) cannot be exchanged for German certificates.

However, seafarers with foreign certificates can apply at the BSH for an endorsement of recognition for service on board ships flying the German flag. These endorsements of recognition exist for all certificates of competency, but exclusively for certificates of proficiency for service on tankers for officers/masters.

Such an endorsement of recognition is subject to certain conditions. Among other things, the foreign certificate must have been issued by a cooperating state and still be valid.  If all requirements are met, refugees may work on board ships flying the German flag until the corresponding validity expires.

Please note that it is mandatory for a master on ships under German flag to have a EU-citizenship!

If the validity of foreign certificates cannot be extended in the home country, if it has already expired or if it was issued by a non-cooperating state, refugees can obtain a German certificate of competency with training at a German technical college or university.

If you can credibly prove that you have already completed training in your home country, the BSH can examine and recognize the practical training and seagoing service upon application. For this purpose, please submit an informal application with the following documents to the BSH, Sachgebiet S12 (see contact on the left):

  • Copy of identity card,
  • curriculum vitae,
  • records of employment of practical training and seagoing service,
  • training record book, if applicable,
  • theoretical training certificates,
  • university certificates, if applicable,
  • officer seagoing service, if applicable, and
  • copies of certificates of competency and proficiency.

The technical colleges or universities decide whether or not it is possible to shorten the training. In this case, please contact the relevant school directly (with proof of practical training and seagoing time from the BSH). Depending on the training facility, German language skills must be proven in advance or not until during the training.

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