Ship safety certificates:

BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg


ISM and maritime labour certificates:

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

Fax: +49 40 361 37-204

ISPS certificates:

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Sachgebiet S 42
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Dr. Anja Eikermann
Phone: +49 40 3190-7420

Ship station licence:

Außenstelle Hamburg
Sachsenstrasse 12 und 14
20097 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 23655-0
Fax: +49 40 23655-182

Certificates for the ship

Change of flag application entails application for certificates

Every change of flag implies new ship certificates of the new flag state. Please use the following application forms (open with a click) for the change to the German flag:

Area Responsible Application

All areas (if there is not a particular application form)


Change of flag application form

Shipping register


Entry into German International Shipping Register (GIS) (in German only)

Shipping register

Shipping register of sea-going ships

Certificate of registry (changes because of change of flag)

Tonnage measurement


International tonnage certificate (ITC 69)



Safe manning certificate

Maritime labour law


Maritime labour certificate and

Declaration of maritime labour compliance (DMLC)



SMC and




Interim-ISSC and

Continous Synopsys Record

Maritime radiocommunication

Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency)

Ship station licence (in German only)



Civil liability certificates for seagoing ships under the Bunkers Convention (CLCBCs)

If you want to know which ship certificates are issued at the change of flag and which are required for the day-to-day operations of the ship, we can recommend our directory for ship certificates.

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The class issues mostly interim certificates on the day of changing flag

A large part of the certificates are issued as interim certificates on the day of changing flag and handed to the master on board. Usually surveyors of recognized organizations perform the change of flag survey and issue the interim certificates.

You will receive the following ship related certificates and documents forthright at the change of flag from the flag state administration:

  • certificate of registry
  • notice of the entry into the GIS
  • international tonnage certificate (ITC 69) (only in case of conversion or similar)
  • safe manning certificate
  • maritime labour certificate
  • ISM certificates
  • ISPS certificates
  • ship station licence
  • liability certificates

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Certificate of registry (shipping register of sea-going ships)

At the shipping register of sea-going ships a change of flag is particularly easy if the ship has been temporarily flagged out – this is the usual case. This means, the ship is already entered in a German shipping register and now the only thing left for you to do is apply for a new certificate of registry at a shipping register of sea-going ships.

Please make sure that the bank financing the ship provides the mortgage deeds in due time.

If your ship is entered in a German shipping register for the first time, you will receive the distinctive number or letters of the ship, which are at the same time the call sign for maritime radiocommunication, from the German shipping register. It consists of four letters (ships under German flag start with the letter “D”). When a shipping register has used all possible four letter combinations a digit (numbers 2 to 9) is added at the end.

The German shipping register can only enter a re-flagging or a new entry when the ship is no longer registered in a foreign register. For operating ships (= does not include newbuildings) an attestation of the deletion of the entry in the respective foreign register is mandatory. The new certificate of registry can only be issued and handed out by the German shipping register on the day of changing flag.

The extract of the certificate of registry has to be taken on board the flagged-in ship as soon as possible. To avoid hassle at port state controls in trading areas abroad, it is advisable to have the faxed extract of the certificate of registry attested by a German representation abroad (embassy / consulate) and quickly brought on board of the flagged-in ship. When a ship is abroad at the time of the change of flag, an interim certificate of registry valid for six months can be issued. However, this rarely happens.

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Notice about entry into the GIS

If a ship shall be entered into the German International Shipping Register (GIS), it may not be temporarily flagged-out. Therefore, please apply at the flagging-in of a temporarily foreign-flagged ship for the withdrawal of permit for limited operation under foreign flag at the BSH. If the permit for limited operation under foreign flag ends at the day of changing the flag, you need only apply for the registration in the GIS.

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bild zeugnisse für das schiff 

International tonnage certificate 1969

As a shipowner you do not need a new international tonnage certificate 1969 (ITC 69), if the ship has been flying a foreign flag for a limited amount of time and is already entered into a German shipping register. A new ITC 69 is only necessary in case conversion constructions, a change of the moulded draught, the ship’s name or home port have occurred. After the initial registration the foreign tonnage certificate remains valid for three months; during this period, a new tonnage certificate has to be applied for in time.

Existing tonnage certificates of the previous flag state for the Suez and Panama canals are also valid after changing flag. They do not have to be reissued as long as conversion construction has not been performed on the ship and the utilization of compartments or rooms has not changed.

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Minimum safe manning certificate

Please apply in due time before a change of flag for a minimum safe manning certificate so that the Ship Safety Division can send the certificate in time. Particular posts, especially at managerial level (masters, ship officers), must be filled with EU citizens - except if you offer training positions. More detailed information on flexibly manning your ship can be found under "Statutory provisions for nationalities".

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Maritime labour certificates (according to MLC)

Vessels larger than 500 GT on international voyages need a maritime labour certificate and a declaration of maritime labour compliance (DMLC). According to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) the former maritime labour certificate becomes invalid at a change of flag. Please apply for the ship specific part I of the declaration of maritime labour compliance (DMLC part I) prior to changing flag. On the basis of this part I, please create a draft for a part II of the DMLC and mail it to the Ship Safety Division ( You will receive your temporary maritime labour certificate valid for six months after an inspection regarding maritime labour law on board the ship. Throughout this period a declaration of maritime labour compliance approved by the Ship Safety Division is not required. After the six months have expired, the flag changing vessel needs to be in possession of a final maritime labour certificate as well as an approved declaration of maritime labour compliance.

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ISM certificates

For a change of flag and the day-to-day operations of a ship on international voyages two certificates are required according to the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code):

  • a “Document of Compliance” (DoC) for the shipping company and
  • a “Safety Management Certificate” (SMC) for the respective ship.

Shipping companies which operate vessels already flying the German flag do not need a new German DoC if the ship to be flagged-in is of the type listed in the DoC. However, if the shipping company does not have a valid DoC under German flag, an auditor of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr conducts an additional office audit.

A change to the German flag usually does not require an additional audit of the ship or a flag state inspection. Only if the audit reports and port state control databases contain indication of larger deficiencies or breaches of safety, an additional audit of the ship will be conducted by the Ship Safety Division.

The period of validity of current foreign ISM certificates is adopted when changing to the German flag as long as the ship does not present any larger deficiencies or breaches of safety.

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ISPS certificates

Please apply for an interim-ISSC (= interim ship security certificate) 14 days before changing the flag at the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and inform us about the change of flag date. Please submit the new ship security plan (SSP) for plan approval to the BSH. Further details of the approval procedure can be found under our heading "Security (ISPS Code)".

An additional pre-verification by the RSO is only necessary in exceptional cases, namely if:

  • the change of flag involves a management change,
  • only an interim ISSC had been issued by the previous SOLAS Convention state or
  • the change of flag issues from a non-SOLAS Convention state party.

Initially at the change of flag, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) issues an interim ISSC with a period of validity of up to six months.

After changing the flag, please submit a protocol of a test alarm to the Point of Contact at the BSH. The protocol proves that the ship security alert system (SSAS) on board the ship is functional. 30 days after the approval of the ship security plan you can have a follow-up verification done by a recognized classification society (RSO) in order for the BSH to be able to issue a final ISSC.

At the change of flag, a new Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR) is issued upon application. Please provide the BSH with copies of previous CSR (if any) of other flag states. For a deletion from the register of the previous flag state, you have to apply for a closing-CSR. Until the issuance of the new CSR (for up to 3 months) the original amendment sheets of the IMO may alternatively be carried on board during a change of flag.

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Ship station licence (maritime radiocommunication)

For a change of flag please apply for the required numbers for the participation in maritime radiocommunication at the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency)

  • Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) and/or
  • Automatic Transmitter Identification System-Number (ATIS-Number).

The individual numbers for the seagoing vessel are included in the ship station licence. The Bundesnetzagentur conveys the ship station licence in time before the change of flag directly to the shipping company.

The call sign of the ship gets assigned by the shipping register of the home port.

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Liability certificates

Please apply in due time before the change of flag for a compulsory insurance certificate under the 2001 Bunkers Convention (CLCBC) for a seagoing vessel with a size of 1.000 GT or above. Please submit the insurance certificate ("Blue Card") or other financial security covering any pollution damage caused by any bunker oil to the BSH.

You, as shipowner, require a civil liability certificate for oil tankers (CLCs) under the 1992 Liability Convention for ships carrying more than 2.000t of oil as bulk cargo (oil tankers among others). With this certificate the flag state administration confirms that the provided insurance or financial security is in force.

For the possible costs of a wreck removal, you, as owner of a ship, with a size of 300 GT or above have to be in possession of a wreck removal liability certificate.

As an operator of a passenger ship on international voyages you require a certificate of the flag state of the validity of an insurance or financial security. This passenger liability certificate, according to Regulation (EC) No. 392/2009, is proof that the carrier of passengers possesses sufficient insurance over the liability in respect of the death of and personal injury to passengers.

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