Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
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Seagoing service · Ships

Seagoing service

Applications for initial issuance and extension of validity of seafarers' certificates often require proof of the appropriate seagoing service. This seagoing service must be used to acquire and continuously apply the required knowledge, understanding and proficiency for the particular competency (see also column 2 of the relevant table in the STCW Code).

The duration of the seagoing service is expressed in "months". The term "month" means:

  • either a calendar month
  • or, in case of several periods of less than one calendar month: a combined period of 30 days.

Tips for calculation:

  • Only net seagoing service will be counted !
  • You need a total of 36 months net seagoing service to acquire BZ-NK and BZ-TLM.
  • After 12 months seagoing service as NWO/NEO < GT 3,000 or as TWO the remaining seagoing service counts double as NEO/NEO < GT 3,000 and as TZO.
  • Seagoing service as TLM < 3,000 kW can only be counted as a maximum of 6 months TZO segoing service.

The calculation is supported by the

„Calculation aid for seagoing service"

Please do not submit your application until you can prove sufficient seagoing service. The overview (at the bottom of this page) shows you which seagoing service is required in detail.

You can prove seagoing service with

  • a record of employment (on ships under federal flag),
  • a seaman's book or
  • with another suitable proof containing the required information according to a record of employment.


Seagoing service must be served on vessels,

  • which either fall within the scope of the STCW Convention
    (In principle, the scope of the STCW Convention includes all merchant ships, but not: "authority vessels", fishing vessels, yachts not engaged in commercial traffic, and wooden ships of simple design)
  • or on fishing vessels
    (only in case of certificates for service on fishing vessels).

Supplementary provisions concerning the following vessels:

  • The BSH evaluates whether periods of service on yachts can be counted as seagoing service on the basis of the following evidence: Records of employment, proof of commercial use (charter contract), manning requirement according to STCW, MLC conformity and, if applicable, further proof of actual manning of the yacht.
  • Seagoing service on tugs with a gross tonnage (GT) of less than 500 will be approved upon application for a certificate of competency Chief Mate (NEO) or Master (NK) if these ships are to be manned according to STCW Regulation II/2 and II/1 and in the course of continuous service on board at least one sea tow has occurred where the tug and the towed item collectively had a GT of 500 or more. Watch-free times, compensatory time off, leave or other times of absences count as interruptions in service.
  • Seagoing service on authority vessels is approved upon application if it meets the requirements for merchant vessels (see below: links to the appropriate tables) and the duration consists solely of "sea days" served or port laydays abroad. For the purpose of obtaining and extending the validity of certificates of competency, for Navigational Watchkeeping Officer (NWO) or above only those days where the ship was operated outside the port limits are counted as "sea days". For all other certificates, a day is considered a "sea day" if the ship was self-propelled. For the purpose of taking into account inland port laydays, 1/10 share of the "sea days" will be added to the "sea days". For further evidence that may be required, please refer to the following tables.
  • Seagoing service on fishing vessels with the corresponding propulsion power, are counted towards the issuance or extension of validity of engineering or electro-technical certificates of competency.

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Overview of required seagoing service

What is required in detail for the initial issuance and the validity extension of certificates of competency and certificates of proficiency for service on merchant ships (ship service) is shown in the following tables (in German only):

Information for (former) soldiers of the German Navy can be found in the section "Navy".

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