Advice on changing flag (procedure of change of flag):

Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehrswirtschaft Post-Logistik Telekommunikation (BG Verkehr)
Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg

Einflaggungsmanagement


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



Flag law:

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Sachgebiet S 13 - Flaggenrecht und Schifffahrtsförderung
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Angela Boemke
Phone: +49 40 3190-7130
Fax: +49 40 3190-5003



Webcode for this Content: 16401616

Procedures to change flag

Checklist for changing to the German flag – all you need

The checklist for changing to the German flag clearly lists all relevant items - sorted under the topics “Documents for seafarers”, “Certificates for the ship” and “Ship’s equipment”.

Area To do Responsible Application

I. Documents for seafarers

Fitness for sea service

check medical certificates for validity and conformity with STCW, if necessary have seafarers examined

SD/ recognized medical practitioners

 pdf icon

Competence

send EU-masters without German certificate of competency to 9-day in-house "German Shipping Law" course (prior to change of flag)

course providers

formless

Competence

endorsement of foreign certificates of competency

BSH

 pdf icon

II. Certificates for ships

All certificates (if there are no additional application forms)

apply for change of flag

SD

 pdf icon

Shipping register

have ship entered into the German International Shipping Register (GIS) (optional)

BSH

 pdf icon

Shipping register

apply for certificate of registry (changes due to change of flag)

Shipping registers for sea-going ships

formless

Tonnage measurement

apply for international tonnage certificate (ITC 69)

BSH

to the application form

Manning

apply for safe manning certificate

SD

pdf icon

Maritime labour law

apply for declaration of maritime labour compliance (DMLC) by e-mail

SD

e-mail to: mlc@bg-verkehr.de

ISM

apply for SMC and if required DoC by e-mail

SD

e-mail to: ism@bg-verkehr.de

ISPS

apply for Interim-ISSC

BSH

 pdf icon

ISPS

apply for Continuous Synopsys Record (CSR)

BSH

 pdf icon

Maritime radiocommunication

apply for ship station licence

Bundes-netzagentur

 pdf icon

Liability

apply for civil liability certificate for seagoing ships under the Bunkers Convention (CLCBCs) (further certificates for ships with over 2.000t oil in bulk as cargo as well as for passenger ships)

BSH

 Link to the application form

Liability

apply for wreck removal liability certificate

BSH

 Link to the application form

All areas

have a change of flag survey take place on the day of the change of flag

SD

e-mail to: besichtigungen@bg-verkehr.de

III. Ship's equipment

Equipment

equip the ship as per list of equipment + install name of the new home port at stern of the ship

shipowner

formless

On-board pharmacy

have on-board pharmacy brought to German standard (State of medical knowledge)

SD / pharmacy

formless

Ballast water treatment systems

requirements for ships under German flag

BSH

no application

Used abbreviations:

SD: Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr
BSH: Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency)

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Time schedule: When do I have to take care of which task?

Prior to the change of flag

In the checklist for changing to the German flag, you can find out at what point in time you should take care of which parts of the flagging-in process. We would advise to start with contacting the shipping register for sea-going ships and with the change of flag application. Please remember to e-mail the electronic plans and documents listed in the change of flag application form to the Ship Safety Division.

It is best if you start working your way through the points of the checklist at the latest 2-3 weeks before the actual change of flag. However, a change of flag can also happen within a shorter lead time.

We would advise to apply for the subsidies for the German flag before the actual change of flag if possible.

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At the day of changing flag

The most important thing at the day of changing flag is the entry into the shipping register for sea-going ships. The re-flagging or the first entry into the German shipping register can only take place after the ship has been deleted from the foreign register. We would therefore advise to do the change of flag at a working day during usual business hours of a shipping register.

Also at the day of flagging-in, the ship will be surveyed by the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr or a recognized classification society. The surveyor of a class issues a certificate with a period of validity of five months at the most at the end of the survey. The certificates are valid immediately.

Usually, the navigational and radio equipment is surveyed on the day of flagging-in by a recognized institution or organisation and is inspected for proper functioning if necessary. An additional survey by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is not necessary provided the surveys of the equipment were carried out in accordance with IMO Resolution A.1076(28) in the past and provided the shipowner:

1. submits the following documents to the BSH as proof

  • declarations of  conformity according to the European Directive  on marine equipment or type certificates, and
  • approved plans  of the previous flag state (list of required plans), or alternatively, a declaration of the previous flag state that the plan approvals have taken place, and
  • statements concerning the compliance of the navigational equipment with these plans and approval certificates of the correct performance of the equipment,

or alternatively,

2. declares to the BSH in written form that, before flagging-in, the ship carried valid certificates by the previous flag state (please name) and was operated under that state's supervision, and guarantees for the check of correct functioning of the equipment within the statutory intervals

For the area ISPS /Security the survey is done by a classification society which is approved as a recognized security organization (RSO). The interim-ISSC is issued by the BSH.

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bild einflaggungsverfahren 

After change of flag

Please remember that there are also tasks that need to be done after changing flag. Although the ship may operate with the interim certificates for a while, only after the change of flag, can the experts of the flag state administration verify - based on the survey report – whether deficiencies of the ship have to be rectified. If everything is fine, the final ship safety certificates are issued by the administration and sent to the shipping company.

The interim-ISSC (ISPS Code) has a period of validity of 6 months during which an inspection takes place. If there are no deficiencies found, the BSH issues the final ISSC.

After changing flag, please do not forget to apply for exemption from pension insurance for seafarers from abroad.

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Change of flag surveys

Every change of flag from a non-EU flag requires a survey on board the ship in order to be flagged-in. This change of flag survey usually takes place on the day of changing flag.

Depending on the age of the ship, a change of flag from an EU flag may require a change of flag survey:

  • cargo ships built prior to 25 May 1980 and
  • passenger ships built prior to 01 July 1998.

In German ports either surveyors of the Ship Safety Division or of a classification society perform the survey; abroad this is only done by the class surveyors. Surveyors of a recognized class are authorized to conduct change of flag surveys on behalf of the German flag state; a case by case authorization for individual surveys is not required.

Please inform the Ship Safety Division as well as the classification society of the date on which you are planning to change flag and task either the Ship Safety Division or the class with the flag state survey.

Please plan for at least 6-8 hours for the change of flag survey of a large seagoing vessel. The change of flag survey of a ship safety certificate usually equates to the extent of an annual survey, for some however the extent of the survey will be that of a renewal survey.

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