Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Sachgebiet S 43
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Susanne Cordes
Phone: +49 40 3190 7437
Fax: +49 40 3190 5008
Mail: nwrc@bsh.de

Wreck removal liability

Insurance for costs of wreck removal

Registered owners of a ship as defined by article 1 paragraph 2 of the Wreck Removal Convention are liable to remove wrecks in accordance with the Wreck Removal Convention.

They require an insurance or other financial security (e. g. a bank guarantee) in accordance with article 12 paragraph 1 of the Convention to cover liability if the ship

  • has a gross tonnage of at least 300 and flies the flag of a State Party, or
  • flies the flag of state that is a non-State Party to the Wreck Removal Convention, and is calling on or leaving an inland port or an offshore infrastructure within the territorial sea of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The convention generally applies to the exclusive economic zone offshore the territorial sea. It contains the obligation for the registered owner of a ship to remove a wreck at one’s own expense, if the affected coastal state has determined that the wreck poses a hazard to the safety of navigation or the marine environment or the coastline or related interests. The coastal state can also take action at the owner’s expense, if the owner fails to take action or in cases of imminent danger.

A ship according to the Wreck Removal Convention is a seagoing vessel of any type whatsoever and includes hydrofoil boats, air-cushion vehicles, submersibles, floating craft and floating platforms. An explicit exception is made platforms which are on location engaged in the exploration, exploitation or production of seabed mineral resources.

Issuance of a Wreck Removal Liability Certificate

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, BSH, confirms with a Wreck Removal Liability Certificate in accordance with the Wreck Removal Convention the existence of the relevant insurance or other financial security.

You can apply for an electronic Wreck Removal Liability Certificate, if

  • the ship flies the German flag, or
  • the ship flies the flag of a non-State Party to the Wreck Removal Convention.

The period of validity of the wreck removal liability certificate is in principle the same as that of the insurance in place or other financial security provided; it does however not exceed one year.

Important note:
A Wreck Removal Liability Certificate issued by the BSH must not contain handwritten or any other kind of changes by a third party, particularly not by classification societies. Any changes are inadmissible and may be relevant under criminal law.

The Wreck Removal Liability Certificate is issued for a maximum period of one year. The fee for each liability certificate is 118,- EUR (in accordance with the BSH-Gebührenverordnung (ordinance on fees)).

(back to top)

bild wrackbeseitigungshaftung

Application of a Wreck Removal Liability Certificate

The BSH issues the Wreck Removal Liability Certificate only on written or electronic application of the registered owner. Please use this application form and submit it and the application documents (PDF files) with an e-mail to the BSH.

In addition, an authorisation may be required in the described cases below:

  • If not the registered owner but a person authorised by him or her submits the application, please submit an authorisation form;
  • if the ship does not fly the German flag and/or the reigstered owner does not have a registered office in Germany, a person authorised to receive communication with a registered office in Germany has to be dedicated. In this case, please submit the for "Authorisation to receive communication".

Please note: One electronic copy of each authorisation suffices.

Please send the documents via e-mail to the following designated e-mail address:  nwrc@bsh.de. Originals do not have to be submitted anymore.

The registered owner must notify the BSH immediately of any changes in the security covers provided, which are indicated in the Wreck Removal Liability Certificate.

(back to top)

Wreck Removal Liability Certificate on board

On board the electronic Wreck Removal Liability Certificate must be presented on demand as electronic copy on the display or as printed hardcopy. The verification of authenticity and validity of the Wreck Removal Liability Certificate is carried out via the following link:


Further information is given here and in an explanatory information letter which explains how the authenticity and validity of electronic certificates can be verified.

(back to top)

Legal basis

(back to top)