BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Referat Nautik
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg


Peer Lange
Phone: +49 40 361 37-319
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204
Mobile: +49 171 882 70 68


Hans-Joachim Wiegmann
Phone: +49 40 361 37-314
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204

Webcode for this Content: 16324083

Passenger ships

What is a passenger ship?

A passenger ship is specially designed and equipped for the transport of persons. According to the provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) any ship with accommodation for more than 12 passengers is a passenger ship. Persons other than passengers are regarded as crew.

Passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages are covered by European legislation

The European Directive 2009/45/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships applies to passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages, irrespective of the flag they fly, which are:

  • New passenger ships – i.e. ships whose keel was laid on or after 1 July 1998;
  • existing passenger ships of 24 m length and above; or
  • high-speed passenger craft engaged on domestic voyages, regardless of their flag.

The directive does not apply to passenger ships which are:

  • ships of war and troopships,
  • ships not propelled by mechanical means,
  • ships constructed in material other than steel or equivalent and not covered by the international standards concerning high speed craft,
  • wooden ships of primitive build,
  • original, and individual replicas of, historical passenger ships designed before 1965, built predominantly with the original materials,
  • recreational yachts,
  • ships exclusively engaged in port areas.

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In addition German law applies

The European Directive 2009/45/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships is implemented in Germany by the German "Schiffssicherheitsverordnung" (ship safety ordinance), in particular annex 1a part 1 on safety requirements for passenger ships. This German guideline contains supplementary provisions for certain passenger ships. Furthermore, it defines the safety standard for passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages and not covered by the Directive 2009/45/EC. These are in particular existing passenger ships of less than 24 m length and ships constructed in material other than steel.

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bild fahrgastschiffe

Categorization of passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages

Passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages are categorized into four different classes A, B, C and D, according to the sea area and offshore distance. The list of sea areas is published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. High-speed passenger craft are also categorized according to the International Code of Safety for High Speed Craft (HSC code).

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Passenger ships engaged on international voyages are covered by the SOLAS convention

Passenger ships engaged on international voyages are covered by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

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Ship safety certificates and surveys

All passenger ships are subject to periodical surveys, performed by the surveyors of the ship safety division of the BG Verkehr.

All new and existing passenger ships covered by the European Directive 2009/45/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships must carry a safety certificate, issued by the flag state administration and valid for not more than one year.

High-speed passenger craft which comply with the requirements of the International Code of Safety for High Speed Craft (HSC code) are also issued with a safety certificate.

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