Commercially used recreational craft with skipper:

BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Zeugnispool
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg



Alexandra Pohl
Phone: +49 40 36 137-296
Fax: +49 40 36 137-204

André Bomke
Phone: +49 40 36 137-227

Jan Ove Mühlpforte
Phone: +49 40 36 137 230
Fax: +49 40 36 137 204


Carmen Regensdorf
Phone: +49 40 36 137-209
Fax: +49 40 36 137-204

Manja Wahle
Phone: +49 40 36 137-208
Fax: +49 40 36 137-204


Gerhard Wessels
Phone: +49 40 36137-229
Fax: +49 40 36137-204



Privately used charter yachts without skipper (bareboat):

Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsamt Stralsund
Nautisches Büro



Privately used recreational caft

Deutscher Segler-Verband e.V.
Gründgensstraße 18
22309 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 6 32 00 90
Fax: +49 40 63 20 09 28
Mail: info@dsv.org

Deutscher Motoryachtverband e.V.
Vinckeufer 12-14
47119 Duisburg

Phone: +49 203 8 09 58-0
Fax: +49 203 8 09 58-58
Mail: info@dmyv.de

Webcode for this Content: 20666345

Recreational Craft

Overview

It is estimated that there are about 500 000 recreational craft ("Sportboote") in Germany. Most owners use their sailing and motorsport boats privately for sport or recreational purposes. There are few legal provisions for these recreational craft.

In contrast, owners and operators of hired out recreational craft and of commercially used recreational craft have to meet much stricter safety provisions and require a certificate from a German authority for the recreational craft under German flag.

In our chart "Recreational craft ("Sportboote") under German flag in maritime waters", we provide an overview for you about which rules apply for which kind of recreational craft. Below you can find information about recreational craft under German flag in German and foreign maritime waters.

What is a recreational craft?

According to the German "See-Sportbootverordnung", a recreational craft ("Sportboot") is a water craft whether machine-driven or not that

  • was built for sport and recreational purposes and
  • is solely used for sport or recreational purposes or for the training in navigating recreational craft and
  • is approved for not more than twelve persons plus driver and crew.

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The craft has to be built for sport and recreational purposes. This does not include craft that

  • were solely built for recreational purposes or
  • were originally built as professional ships or
  • were built as professional ships and later converted.

According to ship safety law, it is not relevant for the ship classification what is stated in the shipping register for sea-going ships or in the tonnage certificate.

A craft that is a recreational craft according to its construction, is legally only a recreational craft if it is either solely used for sport and recreational purposes or for the training in navigating a recreational craft.

The sole use for sport and recreational purposes is given if the craft is used for more than just the voyage itself and solely for ship-related sport activities or ship-related recreation of the persons on board as sporting equipment, for example for:

  • sailing sport,
  • motorboat sport,
  • fishing from the ship,
  • diving from the ship.

In particular, there is no sport or recreational purpose in the following cases:

  • commercial voyages where the transport of persons is in the foreground (e.g. water taxis);
  • commercial voyages with touristic motives, such as harbour round trips, disco, birthday and wedding trips, cooking or yoga classes;
  • burials at sea;
  • purposeful use of a craft in the field of environmental protection, sea rescue (including observation missions) or for other humanitarian purposes.

The craft may also be used for the training in navigation of recreational craft.

Not more than 12 persons plus driver and crew may be transported on the recreational craft, because otherwise it is a passenger ship.

bild sportfahrzeuge

Use and certificate requirement

Which safety requirements a recreational craft flying the German flag has to meet and whether a certificate is required depends on the use:

  • solely privately used (no certificate required) or
  • hiring out (bareboat charter, Boat Certificate ("Bootszeugnis") required) or
  • commercially used (Safety Certificate for Recreational Craft and Safe Manning Certificate required)

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Solely privately used recreational craft: No certificate

Recreational craft, which are used solely privately, i.e. without payment for sport or recreational purposes or the training in navigation of recreational craft, do not require approval or certificates by the German Flag State Administration. Below we explain the difference between private use, hiring out and commercial use.

For solely privately used recreational craft, the following applies:

  1. Owners must have their recreational craft from 15 m hull length entered into a German shipping register for sea-going ships.
  2. For the equipment, only the provisions of COLREG regarding navigational lights and equipment for sound signals must be considered. Further information is given in a brochure (in German only) by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH).
  3. For navigating the German maritime waterways a recreational craft driver's licence ("Sportbootführerschein") in accordance with the German "Sportbootführerscheinverordnung" is required for privately used recreational craft as well. Further information about driver's licences regarding recreational craft use is offered at the Deutscher-Segler-Verband or at the Deutscher Motoryachtverband.

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Hiring out recreational craft (bareboat): Boat Certificate

Entrepreneurs hiring out their recreational craft or water motorcycle without skipper or crew ("bareboat") for a fee have to apply for a Boat Certificate ("Bootszeugnis") at the competent "Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsamt". The precise legal definition of the term "Vermietung" (hiring out) is given in the German "See-Sportbootverordnung".

If a charterer uses the recreational craft or water motorcycle commercially, it requires a Safety Certificate by the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr.

Some entrepreneurs want to use their recreational craft flexibly, i.e. sometimes hire it out without a skipper, another time use it commercially with a skipper provided by them. In this case, a Safety Certificate for Recreational Craft by the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr is required – although, not in addition to the "Bootszeugnis" but instead.

Entrepreneurs apply for the "Bootszeugnis" at the "Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsamt" (WSA) in the district the recreational craft or water motorcycle has its permanent berth or where the permanent establishment of the entrepreneur is located. The WSA Weser-Jade-Nordsee is the competent authority for recreational craft hired out abroad. The application form for a "Bootszeugnis" can be found on the website of WSA Stralsund. A craft requires a "Vermietungskennzeichen" (hiring mark) for a "Bootszeugnis". In addition, the craft has to be tested for its vehicle safety, if possible, prior to the beginning of the water sport season.

The respective WSA issues the "Bootszeugnis" for a two-year period, in case of a newbuilding, it is a three-year period.

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Commercial use of recreational craft: Safety Certificate and Safe Manning Certificate

A recreational craft with provision of a skipper or a crew for a fee counts as commercially used. They require a Safety Certificate and a Safe Manning Certificate.

The safety requirements for commercially used recreational craft with a hull length of 8 m to 24 m are regulated in the German "Richtlinie über Sicherheitsvorschriften für gewerbsmäßig zu Ausbildungszwecken genutzte Sportfahrzeuge nach § 52a SchSV a.F." (cf. section 14 sentence 2 of the "See-Sportbootverordnung").

The requirements of commercially used recreational craft flying the German flag not only apply in German maritime waters (maritime waterways and coastal sea) but also worldwide.

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Commercially used recreational craft from 8 m length flying the German flag require:

  • a Safety Certificate for Recreational Craft and
  • a Safe Manning Certificate.

The Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr issues the Safety Certificate for Recreational Craft for a 2-year period and the Safe Manning Certificate for a 5-year period.

For the Safety Certificate and the Safe Manning Certificate, please submit the following documents to the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr (the easiest way is via mail):

completed application form (to: besichtigungen@bg-verkehr.de)

the following documents to both: posteingang.schiffssicherheit@bg-verkehr.de and certificates@bg-verkehr.de:

  • for recreational craft of more than 15 m hull length: Certificate of Registry ( = proof of the entry into a German shipping register for sea-going ships)
  • recreational craft with CE certification:

     
    • CE declaration of conformity including the provision of the modules and Annex I to the conformity declaration and a photo of the CE marking
    • complete owner's manual (pdf or hardcopy)
  • recreational craft without CE certification


    • approved stability calculation and proof of sufficient hull strength for the planned area of operation
  • a written declaration that no modifications affecting the stability have taken place
  • documentation of a radio acceptance procedure by the BSH or a body recognized by the BSH
  • documentation of inspection of the liquefied gas unit on water craft
  • Application for a Safe Manning Certificate

After the documents have been received, the recreational craft is surveyed by a surveyor of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr. This is done with a Checklist.

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) or one of the bodies recognized by the BSH surveys the on-board radio equipment. This survey is only required once – except if the radio communication equipment is modified (e.g. expansion of the area of operation) or a new device is installed or it is exchanged. The application for the survey of radio communication equipment can be found on the website of the BSH. Further general information about surveys can be found under our heading "Ship Surveys".  

If there is a liquefied gas unit on board the ship, it must also be approved by a certified firm every two years in accordance with the requirements of the "Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V. (DVGW)".

Commercially used recreational craft must have a Safe Manning Certificate stating the minimum safe manning for the ship. The required crew size is subject to the size of the ship and the area of operation and is regulated in Annex 4 of the "See-Sportbootverordnung". The definition of the areas of operation is given in §1 para. 2 of the "Sportseeschifferscheinverordnung". Please apply for the Safe Manning Certificate at the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr.

The fee for

  • a "Bootszeugnis" is currently 104,- EUR,
  • a Safety certificate for commercially used recreational craft is currently 140,- EUR,
  • a Safe Manning Certificate is currently 60,- EUR (no responsibility is taken for the correctness of this respective information).

The fees for surveys by the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr depend on the expenditure of time (current hourly rate is 114,- EUR). The survey time is billed by quarter hour. Included in the bill are travel time, preparation and post-processing time and, potentially, waiting times that are caused by the applicant. For surveys abroad, travel costs (e.g. plane ticket) and accommodation costs are usually included as well.

Further information on safety requirements for commercially used recreational craft can be found in the information letter "Gewerbsmäßig genutzte Sportboote" (in German only).

Recreational craft registration: required from 15 m length

In all cases, i.e. privately used, hired out and commercially used recreational craft under German flag intended to be used at sea, an entry in the shipping register for sea-going ships is required if the hull length is 15 m or more. The owner receives a Certificate of Registry as proof of the entry showing the ownership of the recreational craft and the right to fly the German flag. Germany does not have one nationwide and unified shipping register for sea-going ships. The district courts manage the shipping registers. Competence of the respective shipping register depends on the homeport of the recreational craft or the homeport of the owner. Prerequisite for a registration in the shipping register for sea-going ships is a Tonnage Certificate, which you can apply for at the BSH.

Owners of recreational craft of less than 15 m hull length can voluntarily register their craft in a shipping register. They can also apply for a Flag Certificate as proof of the right to fly the German flag, but it is not proof of ownership.

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