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Interim Guidance for the use of biofuels

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the Internationale Maritime Organization IMO recently approved "Interim guidance on the use of biofuels under regulations 26, 27 and 28 of MARPOL Annex VI" (MEPC.1/Circ.905). This Interim Guidance assists with the calculation for DSC reporting and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) in cases where biofuels are used on board seagoing vessels.

The Interim Guidance enters into force on 1st October 2023. It applies until more comprehensive guidelines for well-to-wake GHG emissions have been developed and entered into force.

The Circular MEPC.1/Circ.905applies immediately for seagoing ships flying the German Flag and can already be applied for the 2023 monitoring period.

Further questions can be directed to the Ship Safety Division in Hamburg via phone +49 40 36 137 217 or e-mail to

In recent weeks, unknown persons have illegitimately posed as representatives of the German port State control (PSC) in e-mails and subsequently used the received data to send bills to shipping companies. Here are some tips regarding how to protect yourself against these imposters.

In several cases, unknown culprits have posed as representatives of the German port State control in e-mails written in English and requested shipmasters or shipping companies to disclose information regarding the ship and the shipping company. Subsequently, this illegitimately acquired data was used by the perpetrators to e-mail bills over services that were never rendered using the name of the respective shipping company of the ship – together with the request to transfer the invoice amount. The perpetrators used copied or fake names.

Our tips to protect against fraud attempts:

1. Do not react to e-mails from the following e-mail addresses:


2. If you repeatedly receive e-mails from the above-mentioned e-mail addresses, mark and block these e-mail addresses as spam.

3. Check if the e-mail contains a postal address at the end:

  • If not, do not react to the e-mail.
  • If so, verify that the address matches the correct postal address: Brandstwiete 1, 20457 Hamburg.
  • In the fraud cases we have encountered so far, the unknown persons used the postal address of the respective port authority – however, in Germany port authorities are not responsible for port state control.

4. If you find an e-mail to be suspicious, contact us to be on the safe side. Our correct e-mail address for the German port State control is All port State control officers (PSCO) have an e-mail address following this format: You can find the names and contact details of our employees on our website.

Sadly, fraud attempts keep reoccurring. In 2019 for example, the US Coastguard warned of a similar fraud attempt. Back then, unknown persons used the fake e-mail address to gain access to ships' computers (see the US Coastguard bulletin of the time).

After the recent accession of Bangladesh and Liberia, the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships will enter into force in two years time. The Hong Kong Convention sets mandatory standards for the recycling of seagoing ships and regarding materials used on board.

Depositing instrument of accession with IMOMore than 15 years after its adoption, the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention) will enter into force on 26 June 2025. With the recent accession of Bangladesh, as location of many recycling facilities, and Liberia, as a large flag state, the Hong Kong Convention has exceeded the 40% of the world merchant tonnage necessary to enter into force. Germany ratified the Hong Kong Convention in July 2019 (the photo shows depositing of the instrument of accession with the IMO Secretary General).

In recycling countries such as Bangladesh and India so called "Beaching" is still common practice. Beaching is a dismantling method where seagoing vessels are beached (driven onto a flat sandy beach at high speed) for subsequent manual dismantling often without any regards to environmental or occupational health and safety standards.

Rückbau des Massengutfrachters Captain Tsarev auf EU-zertifizierter Werft in Brest Frankreich.jpgIn the EU some of the provisions of the Hong Kong Convention are already in place and mandatory for its member states. With the EU Regulation (EU) 1257/2013 on Ship Recycling, the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) has already become a mandatory part of ship documentation for seagoing ships flying the flag of an EU country.

However, so far only a few recycling facilities outside of Europe have been certified according to the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. In many cases this has led to shipping companies selling their out-of-service ships to somewhere outside of the EU where the ships then fly a non-EU flag and get recycled in south Asia.

The adoption of the Hong Kong Convention in 2009 as well as the EU Ship Recycling Regulation have contributed to the recent shift in awareness. Many of the internationally established recycling yards in India and Bangladesh are currently adjusting their ship recycling practices to the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention. Right on time too, since the shipping organization BIMCO estimates that within the next ten years about 15,000 seagoing ships will need to be recycled.

New procedure for online verification of German seafarers' certificates

New procedure for online verification of German seafarers' certificates

With immediate effect, all certificates for seafarers issued by the BSH (certificates of competency and proficiency as well as seafarers' cards) can be verified for authenticity and validity in a new  online procedure.

Companies and authorities wishing to use this procedure must provide credible evidence of a legal claim within the meaning of Section 9f of the German "Seeaufgabengesetz" (Maritime Responsibilities Act). The following, for example, are eligible

  • companies employing seafarers with German certificates or
  • foreign flag state administrations that issue endorsements of recognition to German certificates for service on a ship under their own flag.

For the new online verification (specialized procedure "SBVOV: Verification") a one-time registration via BSH login is required. After registration, the online verification is available in German and English versions.

The new procedure replaces the old application for verifying the authenticity and validity of German seafarers' certificates, which could not be used to verify all types of certificates. In addition, the user registration has been modernized.

Application forms for endorsements of recognition updated

To page "Changing to a foreign flag" in our topic area "Flag · Register"

At its tenth anniversary, the German shipping foundation Stiftung "Schifffahrtsstandort Deutschland" extended its subsidization scheme and raised the subsidization sums. Newly eligible for grants are electro-technical officer's assistants (ETOA). In addition, shipping companies can also apply online for the grants from now on.

Azubi 4.jpgSince 10 years, the German shipping foundation Stiftung "Schifffahrtsstandort Deutschland" has been subsidizing vocational training and professional development of seafarers – from ship's mechanic through to master – on ships flying the German flag or EU flag. The grant money stems from compensation payments that shipping companies have to make to a foundation as compensation for flagged-out German ships if they do not offer training on-board. The amount of compensation is the same as last year and lies between 2,051 Euros and 19,632 Euros per year in relation to the size of the ship (see announcement in the Federal gazette from the end of 2022).

The foundation subsidizes vocational training of:

  • ship mechanics,
  • navigational and engineering officer's assistants,
  • and, for the first time, of electro-technical officer's assistants.

Azubi 1.jpgMoreover, the training of officers (including as master) as well as professional development is eligible for funding.

Another improvement is the considerable increase in grant amounts for the vocational training: Ship mechanics and officer's assistants are subsidized with 14,000 Euros per year (previously: 10,500 Euros), training as ships officer or master with 32,000 Euros per year (previously: 24,000 Euros) and in case of unemployment prior to the training even 38,000 Euros per year (previously: 28,500 Euros).

The conditions for funding of vocational training and qualification by the foundation Stiftung "Schifffahrtsstandort Deutschland" are among others:

  • Azubi 2.jpgthe headquarters of the company are located in Germany,
  • the trainee or master/ship's officer is employed by a German employer,
  • the employer pays contributions to the statutory social security system for the trainee or master/ship's officer,
  • the trainee or master/ship's officer receives a payment of not less than 850 € per month,
  • the ship is operating under the German flag (not the official federal or official state flag) or under EU flag or as of now EER-flag.

As of now, applications for subsidization can be completed and submitted digitally. To do so, the foundation kindly requests that you register via e-mail to

Further information on the topic as well as links to the postal application can be found under the heading "financial matters".

Medical fitness examinations are free-of-charge for seafarers if they work for a maritime company that pays contributions of the marine accident insurance to the BG Verkehr. The seafarers have to submit a confirmation fo cost coverage of the member company to the examining doctor. The relevant information in the forms changes as of 1 January 2023.

Kostenloses Motiv blood-pressure-Melanie Simon auf Pixabay_640.jpgAt the examination, the seafarer proves with the confirmation of cost coverage that their comapny pays their insurance contributions to the BG Verkehr.

From 1st January the confirmation has to contain the following information:

  • the new company number (UNR.S) with 15 digits. It replaces the previous comapny number with 8 digits and has been sent to the member companies by the BG Verkehr. What else is new:

  • the danger rate numbers (Gefahrtarifstellen, GTS) of the member company with 4 digits.
    This information is given in the "Veranlagungsbescheid" by the BG Verkehr.

Member companies of the BG Verkehr can apply for their confirmation of cost coverage either in a formless manner or with this sample form.

Up until 31st December seafarers have to present the previous proof of insurance at their examination appointment. From 1st of January 2023, the new confirmation of cost coverage is required.

Seafarers who want to be examined some time around the year change but do not know the exact date yet should have their company issue both confirmations just in case.

On the website of the BG Verkehr you can find further information on the new company numbers and new danger rate numbers for maritime companies as well as the right person to contact. We have also summed up the important details.

Record books on sea-going vessels flying the German Flag can be maintained electronically as well. So far, the BG Verkehr has approved the software of two manufacturers of electronic record books. Digital MARPOL record books can also be approved.

Digitalization is ever increasing on sea-going ships. This includes record books for sea-going ships. So far, records were written on paper, but demand for digital options is increasing for this form of documentation too.

The German Flag responds to this trend and has approved the software of two manufacturers of electronic record books. One electronic ship's logbook called "Anschütz eLog" (approved since 8.2.2021) is by the company Raytheon Anschütz GmbH in Kiel and the other is an electronic ship's and engine logobook called "Searecs" (approved since 2.2.2022) by the company MARSIG in Rostock. Shipping companies can use these softwares on their German-flagged ships and replace the hardcopy record books preciously used.

electronic record book teaser picFor good reasons, the German Flag relies on the two international technical standards ISO 21745 and IMO Resolution MEPC.312(74) for their approval – i.e. there are no German special requirements. Approval is issued by the BG Verkehr/Ship Safety Division, while the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) or a recognized organization (RO) is responsible for the technical verification.

The approval procedure covers a wide range of record books in digital form:

  • Ship's logbooks with bridge maintenance logbook as ancillary book,
  • engine logbook with sounding and bell book as ancillary books,
  • MARPOL record books for environment protection issues with oil, cargo and garbage record book as those of most significance,
  • medical record books (patients' register and controlled drugs register).

In addition, shipping companies can apply for product-specific approvals, as per request, for the ship-specific approvals of MARPOL record books at BG Verkehr. Such an approval is explicitly provided for in the Resolution MEPC.312(74) of the Marine Environment Protection Committee of IMO. Upon application, the BG Verkehr issues the approval for the respective ship – of course as an e-certificate.

The BG Verkehr has summarized further information about the approval procedure of electronic record books in a leaflet. There is also a list of all electronic record books that have so far been approved.

Small commercially used sea-going ships flying the German flag also require a safe manning certificate. Up until last year this was not the case and only vessels over 8m needed such a certificate. The Certificates Pool of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr issues safe manning certificates – digitally.

Water taxiOn 23 July 2021, the Federal Ministry for Traffic changed the German Safe Manning Ordinance; this amendment was published in 2021 in the "Bundesgesetzblatt" (Federal Gazette) Part I on page 1849. Since then, small ships and boats of 8 m and less in length require a safe manning certificate. This mostly concerns water taxis, small surveying boats and commercially used recreational craft. Upon application, the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr issues safe manning certificates electronically.

However, open or partly decked fishing vessels in restricted passive coastal fishing (mainly set net fishing) do not require a safe manning certificate. This is stipulated in sec. 8 para. 1 sent. 3 and 9b of the German Safe Manning Ordinance. For these small fishing vessels, the skipper requires a maritime recreational craft driver's licence ("Sportbootführerschein See") as well as a medical fitness certificate for deck service. Recreational craft hired out without skipper or crew ("bareboat") as well as inland recreational craft do not require a safe manning certificate either.

Based on a recommendation by the Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation (BSU), the Federal Ministry for Traffic had amended the German Safe Manning Ordinance. The BSU recommended in its Casualty Report 258/51 on the maritime casualty of the surveying boat "Geo Profiler" to make safe manning certificates mandatory for work boats of less than 8m in length as well.

At the same time, the Federal Ministry for Traffic amended the German Seafarers' Competencies and Proficiencies Regulations. The new certificate of competency for master NK 100 for service on ships up to 100 GT was developed with small commercially used ships under German flag in mind. As before, Annex 4 of the German "See-Sportbootverordnung" applies for manning commercially used recreational craft; a certificate of competency NK 100 is not required for these kinds of boats.

The Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr is responsible for verifying safe manning. On small ships, this is usually part of the 3-year inspections acc. to the German Maritime Labour Act (unless these are commercially used recreational craft under 24 m in length acc. to Maritime Labour Act sec. 1 para. 1 sent. 2). If the required safe manning certificate is not carried on the ship or the ship is undermanned, it is an administrative offence and may be fined. In addition, the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr may prohibit the ship to leave or proceed its voyage.

The Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr provides further information in an information paper (in German only). Please direct your queries regarding the application and issuance of safe manning certificates at the Certificates Pool of the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr: e-mail:, Tel.: +49 40 361 37 229. Information regarding inspections acc. to maritime labour law on ships can be obtained at the ISM/ILO Department of the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr: e-mail:, Tel.:  +49 40 361 37 213.

Reinstatement and expansion of support for professional development

Find out more under our heading "Financial matters"

CCS approved for flag state tasks for ship safety and marine environment protection

The Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr approved another classification society (aka recognized organization, RO). The RO China Classification Society (CCS) will perform tasks regarding ship safety and marine environment protection for the German Flag State Administration. Among the flag state tasks performed are:

  • Pre-examination of construction drawings and documents,
  • surveys of ships, especially abroad,
  • issuance of interim certificates and preliminary documents.

Prerequisite for the approval by the German Flag is the recognition in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 done by the European Commission. CCS is a member of the International Association of Classification Society (IACS).

Further information on the tasks the nine classification societies for the German Flag perform are provided under the heading "Flag · Register".

For a long time, asbestos was considered a miracle product: the natural mineral is fire resistant, an insulator, easy to process and inexpensive. But asbestos causes illness and can give rise to cancer. BG Verkehr summarized the things shipping companies have to observe when they flag-in a ship that is contaminated with asbestos.

Those who worked with asbestos in the past often used to breath in the dust and thereby the fine asbestos fibres. A possible result: malignant cancer tumours or changes in the lining of the lung. The employer's liability insurance associations recognize asbestos as a cause of a lung disease known as asbestosis, and as an occupational disease. Asbestosis is the most common cause of death among the terminal occupational diseases. There can be several decades between working with asbestos and the onset of the disease. On average the latency period is 38 years.

Since 1993, asbestos may not be produced or used in Germany, and on a European level since 2005. From 2019 all ships under EU flag from 500 GT must have an inventory of hazardous materials, which must also include asbestos. With the Regulation EU/1257/2013 the EU legally implements the provisions of the Ship Recycling Convention (“Hong Kong Convention”).

Globally, however, there is no ban on asbestos. So, there may still be asbestos present on older ships. If such a ship flags-in under the German flag, the shipowner will have to conduct a risk assessment, compile an asbestos cadaster and arrange mandatory medical check-ups for the seafarers. The prevention division at BG Verkehr has developed a compilation of the shipowner’s obligations when operating an asbestos-contaminated ship.

In addition to this compilation, ship operators have to comply with the provisions of the international SOLAS Convention regarding the ban of asbestos on sea-going vessels. The Circular by the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO MSC.1/Circ.1374 "Information on prohibiting the use of asbestos on board ships" provides more detailed requirements and information on the topic asbestos on sea-going vessels:

  1. On ships built before 1 July 2002, asbestos containing materials (ACMs) may be installed and approved as long as they do not pose a risk to the crew's health.
  2. On ships built on or after 1 July 2002 and before 1 January 2011, new installation of ACMs has been allowed only in exceptional cases.
  3. On ships built on or after 1 January 2011, ACMs have not been allowed to be installed (refer to SOLAS Chapter II-1/3-5).

The Circular was published in the German "Verkehrsblatt" (transport gazette) 19/2013 on 23 September 2013 in the German language and is mandatory for ships flying the German flag.

Specialists discover asbestos on some sea-going vessels during inspections at a later point in time – for example while compiling an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) in accordance with EU Regulation 1257/2013 and the Hong Kong Convention on the Recycling of Ships. In these cases, a transitional period of three years applies to carry out an asbestos abatement on board or an exchange of all of the ACMs (refer to Circular MSC.1/Circ.1374). This transitional period of not more than three years cannot be extent, not even if:

  1. during this time period the ship was temporarily flying a different flag or
  2. asbestos had already been identified three years prior on a ship that was flying a foreign flag and is now about to change to the German flag.

For questions regarding these requirements, the experts of the Machine Department of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr are gladly of assistance (e-mail or contact qualified engineer Holger Steinbock via phone: +49 40 361 37-217).

The German flag is always available for you - on 365 days of the year. You can reach our specialists under the phone number +49 3190-7777 for all questions about maritime shipping under German flag

The maritime 24/7 hotline is offered by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, BSH. In addition, the stand-by service of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr is also available. More information is given under "Contact Details".

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