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

Seeärztlicher Dienst

Phone: +49 40 361 37-365
Fax: +49 40 361 37-333

Dr. Philipp Langenbuch
Phone: +49 40 36137-350
Fax: +49 40 36137-333

Dr. Jörg Abel
Phone: +49 40 36137-336
Fax: +49 40 36137-333

Jörg Labrenz
Phone: +49 40 36137-365
Fax: +49 40 36137-333

Jan Schultz
Phone: +49 40 36137-335
Fax: +49 40 36137-333

Annelie Ewen
Phone: +49 40 361 37-252
Fax: +49 40 361 37-333

Kolinda Cinfe
Phone: +49 40 36137-350
Fax: +49 40 36137-333

Marina Staude
Phone: +49 40 36137-340
Fax: +49 40 36137-333

Webcode for this Content: 16102649

Foreign fitness for sea service

Foreign certificates of medical fitness are also valid on German-flagged ships

Seafarers holding a foreign certificate of medical fitness may work on German-flagged ships, if the certificate complies with the requirements of the STCW Convention. Conversely, seafarers holding a German Medical Certificate may also work on foreign-flagged ships. This two-way endorsement is regulated in standard A1.2 section 3 of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) as well as in German law with § 12 paragraph 7 of the Seearbeitsgesetz (Maritime Labour Act).

Not all foreign medical certificates comply with STCW requirements

Medical certificates comply with the STCW-Convention, if:

  • the certificates contain the minimum of information according to section A-I/9 paragraph 7 of the STCW Code (including ability to hear, see and see colours as well as issuing authority, signature of the seafarer), and
  • the examining physician is listed in a public list of the respective STCW contracting party. The respective state regards these physicians as adequately qualified (section A-I/9 paragraph 4 of the STCW-Code).

The German medical certificates comply with the STCW-standards. If a seafarer has a foreign medical certificate, the shipowner has to verify whether or not the certificate meets the STCW-requirements. We compiled a list of the states that issue STCW-compliant certificates.

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Medical certificates needed for the endorsement of foreign certificates of competency

According to the international STCW Convention seafarers have to have their certificates of competence endorsed when they want to work on ships under a different flag. One of the conditions for the endorsement is a valid medical certificate complying with STCW standards. You can find out more about the endorsement of certificates of competence and the list of states issuing STCW-compliant certificates in our section on "Training and competence" (in German only).

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Different quality of examination with German and foreign medical certificates

The commitment of mutual endorsement of the STCW-compliant certificates of medical fitness does not mean that the certificates of the different states have been issued according to the same medical standards. The STCW-Code names only a few concrete criteria for the medical fitness for sea service, including the ability to hear and see. These requirements do not suffice however to reliably assess the medical fitness for sea service of seafarers. Although the "Guidelines on medical examinations of seafarers" by the International Labour Organization ILO offer precise medical requirements, these are not mandatory for the flag states. Furthermore, international criteria to verify a physician's "appropriate qualification and experience" is not provided.

Germany sets very high standards demanding a completed training as a medical specialist and at least four years of hospital or ambulantory work experience as a condition to be a recognized medical practitioner. Additionally, the ILO guidelines are mandatory for German medical examinations of fitness for sea service. Read more about the advantages of the German medical examination of fitness for sea service.

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