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Together with the BSH the EMSA is conducting a large-scale emissions monitoring campaign using remotely piloted aircraft, scheduled to begin later this month. Over a three-month period, a specially equipped drone will measure the sulphur content in the exhaust plumes of ships transiting the Baltic Sea in order to be able to detect violations of the applicable limits. At the same time, image data will also be collected for hydrographic surveying purposes.

The remotely piloted aircraft will take off from the German Armed Forces' Staberhuk site on the east coast of Fehmarn and fly over selected ships operating in the Fehmarn Belt and the Kadetrinne/Kadetrenden in order to measure the sulphur content of their exhaust plumes using specific sensors. In this way, it will be possible to infer the sulphur content of the ship’s fuel, which must not exceed a level of 0.10% in the Baltic Sea Emission Control Area (SECA).

The measurement results are made available in real time to responsible authorities in all European ports via THETIS-EU, the Port State Control information system operated by EMSA. In this way, ships can be specifically selected for inspection at their next port of call and samples of the fuel can be taken. If violations of the strict sulphur limits can be proven, those responsible face heavy penalties.

In addition to ship exhaust gas measurements, multispectral aerial imagery is acquired. For shallow waters, bathymetric values can be extracted from images. Furthermore, imagery allows for three-dimensional mapping of the shore zone. The drone survey campaign will investigate whether aerial imagery can provide complementary information for the German hydrographic surveying service.

The drone flights are operated by the Norwegian company Nordic Unmanned on behalf of EMSA. The sensor technology and analysis capabilities for the emission measurements is supplied by the Danish company Explicit ApS.

German Flag supports Ukrainian seafarers and has adapted the procedure for issuing endorsements of recognition

The German Flag State Administration supports seafarers and shipping companies in matters related to the consequences of the war in Ukraine and has adapted the procedure for issuing endorsements of recognition for certificates of competency, maritime radio operator's certificates and certificates of proficiency for service on tankers to the current situation.

See further information about Recognition of foreign certificates.

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: certificates@bg-verkehr.de, 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: ism-mlc@bg-verkehr.de, 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".

In its Annual Report 2021 on the German Maritime Labour Act, the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr comprehensively presents how it verified compliance with the requirements of the German Maritime Labour Act throughout the last year. A guidance document on the topic "Working and living on board" aids with the implementation of the German Maritime Labour Act.

Since 2013 the Maritime Labour Act implements the International Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) on ships under German flag. With these provisions, mandatory and comprehensive regulations regarding working and living conditions of seafarers have been established. Important topics like hours of work and rest, food and catering, payment of wages, occupational health on board and many more are now clearly regulated and are verified on a regular basis.

39 MLC surveyors inspect international ships abroad and nationally regarding their compliance with the requirements of the Convention for the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr. IN general, Maritime Labour Certificates and Fishing Labour Certificates are issued as electronic certificates now.

The employees of the ISM / ILO Department attend to complaints of seafarers about working and living conditions, approve private recruitment agencies and ensure that shipping companies under German Flag are informed about current issues of this topic area. The ISM / ILO Department has now published its Annual Report 2021.

With its MLC Guidelines, the ISM / ILO Department offers support with the implementation of the Maritime Labour Act on board German-flagged ships. These MLC Guidelines are available for download directly to your smartphone so that you have them at the ready whenever you need them:

QR-Code MLC-Leitfaden

Recently the BG Verkehr published a flyer with information about immunisations against COVID-19 - this flyer is now available in six other languages. One of them – and most important in the shipping industry – English. You can download the flyer for free and with just one click of the button on the website of the BG Verkehr.

BG Flyer immunisationThe 4-page info flyer by the BG Verkehr informs about all relevant findings about the COVID-19 immunisation: protective effect, reactions to the vaccination, side effects and which reasons there are to get vaccinated at the workplace and for oneself personally. Moreover, the flyer refutes in a fact check five typical vaccination myths often causing uncertainty: propositions like "vaccination causes infertility and changes the human genetic make-up" or "young people without any preconditions can overcome COVID-19 infections without a problem" are – as has been scientifically proven – wrong.

Immunisation reduces the risks of an infection significantly. Those immunised are protect to a considerabe extent against a serious and especially severe course of the disease. The SARS-CoV-2 Arbeitsschutzverordnung makes it mandatory for employers to instruct their employees about the dangers of falling ill and the option to protect themselves with the immunisation. Nevertheless, experience shows that this information is often not enough: there are still some employees who are not convinced of the reasons to get immunised. The flyer by the BG is easy to understand and thus assists companies in their persuasive efforts.

The info flyer is freely available as pdf download in German, English, Russian, Czech, Polish, Romanian and Turkish.

Member companies of the BG Verkehr can also order the printed flyer and a poster for free on the website of the BG Verkehr – but in German only.

Aside from their duty of care, it is in the employers' general interest to convince as many of their employees as possible of the benefits of a COVID-19 immunisation. Staff shortages due to illness or quarantine measures affect the whole company after all.

In 2010, the See-BG merged with BG Verkehr. As of 2022, after a 12-year transitional period, the accident insurance contributions for maritime companies will be calculated based on the danger rate. We explain what changes and how your maritime company can lower its contributions with good occupational safety and prevention of accidents.

© Auf den Schirm, Mike Tamayo www.aufdenschirm.com / Rörd Braren Bereederungs- GmbH & Co. KG www.reedereibraren.deEvery industry harbours different risks with varying degrees of danger. With its danger rates (Gefahrtarife), the BG Verkehr takes these varying risks into consideration when calculating contributions. This is relatively common practice in the accident insurance branch. However, until now, a different way of calculating the contributions still applied for the shipping industry, because a transitional period was in place after the former "See-BG" and the former "Berufsgenossenschaft für Fahrzeughaltungen" merged to become the BG Verkehr in 2010. As of 2022, the new danger rate applies for maritime companies as well, split into shore-based and ship-based branches and fishing enterprises funded by the States. There is good news, though: For most companies the changes will lead to lower contributions.

"Fictitious" danger rate numbers during trial period

To prepare for the ultimate transition, "fictitious" danger rate numbers (Gefahrtarifstellen) were introduced, which were then used by the maritime companies to assign their wage sums to during notification. These twelve "fictitious" danger rate numbers have now been summed up to three actual danger rate numbers; the previous separation into employees on shore and on board as well as State-funded fishing enterprises remains in place:

  • The "fictitious" danger rate numbers 1 to 5 become danger rate number 880
  • the "fictitious" danger rate numbers 6 to 11 become danger rate number 890.1
  • the "fictitious" danger rate number 12 becomes danger rate number 890.2

So in the end, what does the employer have to pay in terms of contributions?

This formula serves to calculate the accident insurance contributions:

(wages x danger class x contribution base) : 1,000 = contribution

"Wages" are either average wages (Durchschnittsheuern) or for coastal fishermen and coastal seafarers with statutory insurance the average annual earnings (Durchschnittjahreseinkommen). These amounts can be found in the contribution overview on the website of the BG Verkehr. "Wages" also include the insurance sum of entrepreneurs who have a statutory or voluntary insurance.

The "danger class" (Gefahrklasse) of the respective danger rate reflects the level of risk of the occupational group. Accidents and occupational illnesses from six successive years are evaluated and summed up into a factor for the contribution calculation. Because the occupational risk of people working on shore is lower than those working at sea, the danger class is correspondingly lower as well: 1.71 in comparison to 10.14.

The "contribution base" (Beitragsfuß) is determined by the BG Verkehr on an annual basis. The advancement is anticipated to be based on a contribution base of 3.15.

Danger rate number Branch of trade Danger class
880 businesses and branches of maritime businesses on shore 1.71
890,1 maritime businesses (members of crew of passenger, merchant, offshore, seaside excursion and ferry vessels, of towing, SAR and diving companies, employed in deep sea fishing, in sailing schools and on private yachts and canal pilots as well as those employed in high sea and coastal fishing without State funding) 10.14
890,2 maritime businesses with State funding (high sea and coastal fishing as well as fishermen without vessel) 10.14* The reduction of the contribution as State funding is not factored into the danger class but is part of the contribution calculation 

By the way: from 2022, the wages of employees will solely be transmitted to the BG Verkehr with the digital wage statements (LNdigital). The maritime company enters the respective danger rate number according to the job performed for the company. The BG Verkehr has developed a short film to explain the procedure (in German only).

Advancements and contribution notices

Like before, the contributions are paid in advancements as instalments. What is new is that the BG Verkehr determines the amount of the advancements and notifies you about them in advancement notices. This is also applicable to the insurance for entrepreneurs from 1st January 2022. These advancements allow the BG Verkehr to cover all of the insurance claims that come up throughout the year. The advancements are set off against the actual annual contribution in April the following year and considered in the final contribution notice.

Do you have any questions? The BG Verkehr has answered the most frequently asked questions about this on their website (in German only).

Good occupational safety is worth your while

The BG Verkehr wants to support their member companies in preventing accidents and occupational illnesses. That is why with the introduction of the danger rate, it is now possible to reduce the contribution by up to 5 % - for insurance contributions of entrepreneurs by up to 25 % - under the following conditions:

  • The company or the insured person has been a member of the BG Verkehr for at least three complete contribution years,
  • there has been an below-average accident claim by the respective company – this is determined annually by BG Verkehr – and
  • the reduction does not fall below the minimum contribution of 62 Euros.

The percentage reduces in relation to the amount of occupational accidents a company reports. A higher than average number of cases in relation to the size of the company may even result in a surcharge, however. The size of the company is a decisive factor for the amount of accidents that can be covered with the basic contribution.

We have compiled an overview of all social security contributions and operands of 2022.

As of 1st October, the fees of the German flag are based on a new legal instrument. A joint fees ordinance for all areas of shipping and waterways replaces the individual ordinances from before. The fees of the German Flag remain low.

PSCOs auf Gangway

The new "BMVI-Wasserstraßen und Schifffahrt Besondere Gebührenordnung" comprises most shipping and waterway fees of the Federal Ministry for Transport and digital Infrastructure (BMVI). This means it replaces the former fees ordinance of the BG Verkehr as well. The BSH fees ordinance, however, remains valid as an individual fees ordinance, but only for now, because its revision in conjunction with the act on wind energy at sea will take some more time.

The fees for the German Flag were raised moderately in this new fees ordinance, yet, they remain low. The hourly rate of the BG Verkehr was raised slightly by 5 percent from previously 114 Euros to 119.70 Euros in future. On average, the fee rates for the individual certificates and documents increase between 5 and 15 %.

The fees for the Minimum Safe Manning Certificates and the Medical Fitness Certificates as well as for travel times of the surveyors of BG Verkehr do not change. The travel times are calculated fictitiously from the place of the closest branch office of the Ship Safety Division. This had already been a lived practice but is now clearly defined in the new fees ordinance.

In the course of this new regulation, the BMVI has adjusted the fees of the Ship Safety Division for the first time in eight years. This increase is within the inflation rate of this period of time in Germany (since 2013 up to now 12 % increase).

In comparison to the prices of ship certificates and other documents of other flags, the German flag is still inexpensive. While most other flag states charge an annual registration fee, the German Flag does not.

You can check the low-priced fees of the German Flag yourself in our up-to-date Fees Calculator. We summarized the changes of the relevant fees due to the new fees ordinance in a Comparison. All current fee rates of the BG Verkehr/Ship Safety Division are listed in section 4 of the annex to the fees ordinance. The fees of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), which have not changed, are still defined in the BSH fees ordinance.

FAQ: German Flag about the coronavirus

We, as German Flag bear a responsibility to contain the Corona pandemic. For this, we adapt our procedures for ship certificates and ship surveys to the current situation. For seafarers facilitating measures are in place regarding certificates of competency and proficiency as well as medical fitness certificates. The most important information about this are given in an official statement by the German Flag.

In our FAQ "Corona Info", we answer all important questions about the implications of COVID-19 for seafarers and shipping companies. If you have any further questions, please mail via Feedback.

Validity of MED certificates after the Brexit

The United Kingdom left the European Union on the 31st of January 2020 and is now a third country. At first, because of an agreed transitional period, there were no legal changes for products that have to comply with the EU Marine Equipment Directive until the 31st of December 2020.

However, as of 1st of January 2021, conformity assessment procedures in accordance with MED can no longer be carried out by UK notified bodies. Accordingly, certificates for MED marine equipment may no longer be issued by them as of 1st of January 2021.

In addition, certificates issued by UK notified bodies can no longer be used by the manufacturer of MED marine equipment in the context of the MED conformity assessment as of 1st of January 2021. A further affixing of the wheelmark on MED marine equipment is no longer possible on the basis of these certificates since 1 January 2021!

Read more on the following topics:

  • MED marine equipment
  • marine equipment in the United Kingdom
  • exit agreements between the EU and the United Kingdom

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 maschine@bg-verkehr.de 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".

Hotline (klein)