Seafarer's card:

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

Christina Franke-Geske
Phone: +49 40 3190 - 7185

Record of Employment:

BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Referat ISM/ILO - Bereich Seearbeitsrecht
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg

Tilo Berger
Phone: +49 40 361 37-213

Sven Reese
Phone: +49 40 361 37-313

Kathrin Saß
Phone: +49 40 361 37-260

Florian Reise
Phone: +49 40 361 37-214

Christian Bubenzer
Phone: +49 40 361 37-600
Fax: +49 40 361 37-735

Record of Employment · Seafarer's card

Since 2013, there are new documents for proving professional sea service and the actual time spent working at on board a seagoing ship: the Seafarer's Card and the Records of Employment.
From 31 May 2019, the seaman's books and mustering are no longer in place. However, sea service that was recorded in a seaman's book is still valid.

Seafarer's Card

Seafarers can apply for a "Seafarer's Card" at the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). It is valid for 10 years.

  • This ID is voluntary and no prerequisite for employment on merchant ships under German flag. It is issued upon application.
  • The certificate serves only to prove professional sea service in ocean shipping and substitutes neither a passport nor an official identification.
  • Proof of professional sea service in ocean shipping must be provided by means of a confirmation from the Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH, Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency) or by proof of work in any other capacity on board a merchant ship under the German flag:
  • Data cannot be saved on the Seafarer's Card. Periods of sea service are documented with Records of Employment.
  • The Seafarer's Card can be an advantage in some countries and might be required in other countries.

Please use the following application form and consider our data protection declaration

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German seafarer's card (sample front) German seafarer's card (sample back)

Record of Employment

According to the German Maritime Labour Act section 33, shipping companies are obliged to issue a record of employment to their seafarers and list all of their sea service on board seagoing vessels. Seafarers require this proof for the initial validation and extension of validity of certificates of competency and proficiency.

Records of employment must contain:

  • forename and surname, date and place of birth as well as address of the seafarer,
  • name and address of the shipowner (in the case of another employer, also name and address of this employer),
  • name of the ship, type of ship, ship identification number (SOLAS), tonnage, engine capacity and trading area,
  • time of commencement and termination of service on board,
  • nature and duration of duties performed (function or capacity is sufficient).

Shipowners may decide on the format of records of employment. The following formats are acceptable:

  • record of employment in electronic form, if the crew member has consented thereto, or
  • loose leaves, or
  • a bound copy of a seafarers’ discharge book (on offer for sale).

Shipowners must retain an electronic or paper copy of the seafarers’ records of employment for at least five years from the date of issuance. This obligation allows the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr to verify the safe manning of ships in retrospect.

A model document of the record of employment can be found here.

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Foreign seafarers on seagoing vessels flying the German flag engaged in international voyages do require neither a visa nor a work permit for their work on board the ship.

Exceptionally, a visa is only required when seafarers

  • enter Germany or another EU state from a non-EU state because they go on board a German ship, or
  • remain in Germany for a longer period of time because they work on a German-flagged seagoing ship engaged on national voyages.

The water police issues shore leave passes if seafarers want to go ashore at a German port for a short period of time. The pass is only valid for the city or town area of that port.

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