Examination: procedure · requirements

Documents for a medical fitness examination

Please bring the following documents to the medical fitness examination:

a) always:

  • Your identification card or passport,
  • the completed medical fitness questionnaire (before the examination, it would be great if you could fill in the questionnaire taking your time),
  • your previous medical fitness certificate (except if this is your first examination)

b) in case you

  • wear glasses or contact lenses: bring them along for the eyesight test,
  • have any acute or previous illnesses that are not older than 2 years: submit recent examination results and a current list of medication from your doctor,
  • are employed in a maritime company and have payed contributions to the statutory accident insurance BG Verkehr (in particular under German flag): a confirmation of cost coverage completed by the shipping company,
  • are under 18 years of age: signature of your parents (legal guardians) on the bottom right of the medical fitness questionnaire.

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Procedure of a examination of fitness for sea service

Firstly, you will need to make an appointment for the medical fitness examination with one of our recognized medical practitioners. Download the medical fitness questionnaire before your examination and fill it in accurately. If you are under 18 years of age, have your parents sign as well. Please note the other documents you will need to bring to the examination.

At the day of the examination, present the questionnaire to the examining practice. Right before the examination, you will be asked to show your personal identification or passport to verify your identity.

At the beginning of the examination, the physician will go through the details on the questionnaire with you. After that, an eyesight and a hearing test as well as a physical examination including a urine test will be performed. In addition, your blood pressure, heart frequency, height, weight and body mass index will be determined. In case of pre-exiting conditions and doubts regarding your medical fitness for sea service, the physician may perform or arrange for additional examinations.

If the doctor determines medical fitness for sea service, you will receive a medical fitness certificate. Depending on your medical condition, the certificate may include conditions or restrictions. In general, the certificate is valid for two years; in case of health-related restrictions, the doctor may set a shorted period of validity.

If you are unfit for sea service, the doctor will issue a notification in this regard. You can have this result verified by the Maritime Medical Service (Seeärztlicher Dienst) of the BG Verkehr.

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Requirements for medical fitness for sea service

The medical requirements of fitness for sea service are stipulated in the Maritime Labour Act and detailed specifically in the German Maritime Medicine Regulations ("Maritime-Medizin-Verordnung"), mostly in Annex 1.

Have one of the recognized medical practitioners examine you for fitness for sea service. If you are not yet 18, the examination is free of charge.

If you have a medical condition which is not a ground for denial, the dream of going to sea might not yet be in vain. Fitness requirements for different departments vary. Moreover, it may be possible to stipulate exceptional conditions, for example wearing glasses – provided that you can orientate yourself without glasses as well.

Unfit for sea service is someone who, among other things,

  • has very low visual acuity,
  • has red-green colour blindness (deck department and technical department),
  • is severely physically impaired (e.g. not able to perform self-rescue),
  • takes medication or has health impairments that substantially impair physically and mentally,
  • has a body mass index over 40 kg/m2,
  • has an infectious intestine disease and works in the kitchen or in catering.

The details of this are given in Annex 1 of the German Maritime Medicine Regulations.

No, whether you are about to commence your maritime career or have travelled at sea for several years, there is no difference for fitness for sea service.

Yes, if you fulfil the minimum eyesight standard. You need to have a visual acuity of at least 0.1 of the decimal calculation method on each eye. In addition, depending on the department you (will) work in, there may be different requirements for each eye respectively.

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Costs of a medical fitness examination

The medical fitness examination is free of charge for:

  • minors (under the age of 18) and
  • employees and self-employed people who work at a maritime company and pay contributions of the statutory accident insurance to the BG Verkehr (in particular under German flag)

Prior to the examination, the recognized physicians will verify that it is free of charge. Please present the doctor with a confirmation of cost coverage. Minors only need their ID.

Seafarers have to pay for the medical fitness examination themselves if the employer does not pay accident insurance contributions to the BG Verkehr. This is the case if

  • they are employed under foreign flag or
  • they are only health insured with the Knappschaft or
  • they are only pension insured with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See.

Depending on the extent of examination and the department you (will) work in, medical fitness examinations cost around 100,- EUR.