BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Referat Nautik
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg


Hans-Joachim Wiegmann
Phone: +49 40 361 37-314
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204
Mail: nautik@bg-verkehr.de

Certificate of Equivalence

For sea-going vessels under foreign flag (also EU flag)

  • operated commercially
  • deployed within German coastal waters (12 nautical mile area) and the German Exclusive Economic Area (EEA) and
  • having no international certificates according to the SOLAS Convention

a Certificate of Equivalence is required.

With this certificate, the legislator wants to ensure an equal level of safety on board ships under foreign flag as on comparable sea-going ships under German flag. But the Certificate of Equivalence only regulates ship safety, not, however, maritime labour law or other areas of legislation. Therefore, ships under a foreign flag, though holding a Certificate of Equivalence, may still differ from German-flagged ships.

The Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr issues Certificates of Equivalence upon application. In practice, most issued Certificates of Equivalence are for offshore service vessels. In general, surveyors of the Ship Safety Division will check the ships in situ before a Certificate of Equivalence is issued. The annex to the Certificate contains specific requirements for manning including the qualification of the crew members. A difference is made between

  • the size of the ship (up to 100 GT or 101-499 GT),
  • the watch system (1- or 2-watch system) and
  • the machinery (> 750 kW, one or two engines)

Legal basis for the Certificate of Equivalence is the German "Schiffssicherheitsverordnung" (Ship Safety Ordinance), sec. 9 para. 6 in conjunction with sec. 5 para. 5 as well as Annex 1 D III.1.

The term "Equivalence" is also relevant for the recognition of certificates of competency and other professional certificates for the service on board (e.g. in fishing) . Information about this is given under our heading Training · Competence.

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