News 2016

On 8th September 2017 the new International Ballast Water Management Convention will come into force. Newbuildings are required to have an approved ballast water treatment plant on board. After the convention has come into force, ships already in operation have to be set up at the next renewal of the IOPP certificate at the latest. The German flag offers shipowners up to the 8th September the option of having their IOPP certificate renewed before the end of its term to have enough time to set up the ship within the 5-year term of the certificate.

This way shipowners can, for their ships under German flag, unlink the IOPP certificate from the rest of the ship safety certificates and thereby the class term.

Shipping companies who are interested in renewing their IOPP certificate early are asked to contact the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr.

Further information on this topic is available in our latest ISM Circular.

MS Cellus Teaser groß

The German flag becomes even more competitive from 1st January: in the future shipowners can have their paid employers’ contribution to social security fully reimbursed. Mostly shipping companies operating ships under German flag engaged in international maritime navigation and which pay social security contributions for their seafarers in Germany will profit from this subsidization by the federal government.

So far the federal government paid shipping companies on application generalised subsidies to cover their non-wage labour costs. For the next year maritime shipping companies can apply for subsidies covering their employers’ contributions to social security. Additionally, newly introduced is the reimbursement of non-wage labour costs for shipping companies flying the flag of an EU/EEA member state registered in a German shipping register of sea-going ships. Prerequisite is that their seafarers are insured in the German social security by the insurance by power of an area of the law (Ausstrahlungsversicherung).


Shipping companies can apply for the reimbursement of non-wage labour costs for 2017 from now on at the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). The concrete requirements for subsidisation are included in “Richtlinie zur Senkung der Lohnnbenekosten in der Seeschifffahrt vom 28.10.2016” (guidelines of 28th October 2016 on the reduction of non-wage labour costs in ocean shipping).

The reimbursement of the complete non-wage labour costs is the last component of a package of measures of the federal government to strengthen the training and employment in Germany as a place of maritime importance.

New requirements for medical equipment on board of merchant ships flying the German flag have come into force on 6. October.

The new "State of medical knowledge" includes, besides an equipment list, practical information on the storage of drugs and medical products on board. Shipowners only have to implement the changes of the medical equipment by the next annual inspection.

More information on this topic can be found in our section on "Maritime Medicine". We comprised the most important changes in comparison to the former standard of medical equipment on board in an information leaflet (in German).

Neue medizinische Ausstattung (groß)

Since the beginning of July BG Verkehr issues electronic Safe Manning Certificates for German-flagged ships. This is another consequence of the modernization of the German flag.

For ships on national voyages e-certificates were already introduced in the beginning of 2015. Now BG Verkehr offers this service to shipping companies with ships on international voyages as well – at first for Safe Manning Certificates and the other certificates will subsequently follow.

Since the beginning of July BG Verkehr has already issued over 100 Safe Manning Certificates.

E-Zeugnis (groß)

One click on and an ID Number, which will be sent to you by BG Vekehr, are all it takes to access your Safe Manning Certificate electronically. The e-certificates are fully valid. New E-Safe Manning Certificates can be applied for as of now.

The German flag has informed IMO about the new e-certificates and a model certificate has been put into the IMO data system GISIS.

Since 5. July the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME, Havariekommando) has a new phone number. From now on, the Martime Emergency Reporting and Assessment Centre (MERAC, Maritime Lagezentrum) is available under the number +49 (0)30 18 54 20 – 14 00 and the Central Casualty Command under the extension – 14 01.

The reason for the change is the CCME’s move to the new building of the Maritime Safety and Security Centre (Maritime Sicherheitszentrum) in Cuxhaven.

The fax number has changed as well:
- Fax of MERAC: +49 (0)30 18 54 20 – 20 09
- Fax of Casualty Command: +49 (0)30 18 54 20 – 24 09

The previous address Am Alten Hafen 2 in 27472 Cuxhaven as well as the e-mail addresses remain the same.

Havarie (klein)

Since 1. July, there are new requirements for the crewing of ships under German flag: On larger vessels, only the master and one officer have to be EU-citizens. Furthermore, the legal requirement for a ship mechanic is omitted.

This change is part of a package of measures taken by the Federal Government in order to enhance the attractiveness of the German flag. After the increase of the wage tax relief from 40% to 100 % had entered into force recently, the change of the Safe Manning Ordinance (Schiffsbesetzungsverordnung) followed on 1. July. A new matter is the reduction of the required number of EU-officers. Whereas before, up to 4 EU-officers were compulsory for larger vessels, German ship owners now need only employ one EU-officer on their ships over 8000 GT. The requirement of an EU-master on all German-flagged ships, however, does still remain valid.

Manning (small)

The changes are effected by Erste Verordnung zur Änderung der Schiffsbesetzungsverordnung which was published in the Federal Law Gazette on 17. June. It will be evaluated after four years of time which effects the introduction of these alterations will have had, among others, on the maritime know-how in Germany. On application, BG Verkehr issues changed Safe Manning Certificates in electronic form at short notice.

The planned increase of wage tax relief from 40% to 100% for the German flag has become reality: as of now shipowners do not have to pay wage tax to the tax office for their seafarers working on German-flagged merchant ships.

Basis for the change is the "Gesetz zur Änderung des Einkommenssteuergesetzes zur Erhöhung des Lohnsteuereinbehaltes in der Seeschifffahrt" (Act of the amendment of the Income Tax Act to increase wage tax relief in maritime shipping). This act also repeals the previous 183-day-regulation. Crew members do not have to be in a 183 day long employment relationship anymore for the shipowner to be able to make use of this tax benefit.

The European Commission has declared its consent to this aid on 3. May. With the publication of this resolution in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt), this new regulation will come into force.

Bild Deutscher Bundestag/Katrin Neuhauser (klein)

With this act the federal government and states make good on their promise to make the German flag more competitive. The shipowners deduct the full wage tax from the wages of their seafarers, but may keep it rather than forwarding it to the tax office. This puts German shipowners on equal footing with many shipping companies abroad that do not have to pay wage tax for their seafarers.

Shipowners may utilize the full wage tax relief from the June wage payment period.

From 2019 passenger ships in the Baltic Sea must observe the new provisions by the IMO regarding sewage discharge. This was adopted by the Marine Environmental Protection Committee of the IMO (MEPC) at their last session on 22. April 2016. In order to reduce the input of nutrients to the Baltic Sea, mandatory limits for the discharge of phosphorus and nitrogen must be complied with by passenger ships. These strict provisions apply to new passenger ships from 1. June 2019 and to existing passenger ships exactly two years later.

Further information can be found under our heading “Environmental Protection".


Holger Jäde, Executive Secretary of Berufsbildungsstelle Seeschifffahrt e.V., has recently been appointed Maritime Ambassador for Germany by the International Maritime Organization IMO. The Maritime Ambassador’s central task is to shift the focus of the general public to the maritime professions.

The Maritime Ambassador states that as Maritime Ambassador he will not abate his efforts to win around young people for maritime professions. In his opinion the maritime training of young people secures the future of the companies and strengthens the position on the global market. Hence why committed young people who are ready to take on responsibility, learn throughout life and think internationally, and see their future in the still very fascinating maritime professional sector are needed. Holger Jäde was suggested for the position as IMO Maritime Ambassador by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

You will find more information on training in the maritime sector in our section „Ausbildung“ (in German only) and on the website of the Berufsbildungsstelle Seeschifffahrt e.V.

Neuer Maritimer Botschafter (groß)

To improve the service for maritime shipping, BSH extends the customer service for the German Flag State Administration. From 1st April 2016 shipowners, seafarers, authorities and other offices have the Maritime Hotline as round-the-clock on-call service at their disposal for expert questions as well as emergencies.With this expanded service, the BSH and the Ship Safety Division increase their availability for matters concerning maritime shipping. Direct contact with the German flag is possible day and night as well as on Sundays and public holidays to answer questions regarding maritime shipping and to be able to resolve pressing matters.

Jörg Kaufmann, head of the department Maritime Shipping at BSH states: “With the Maritime Hotline we can guarantee that even after office hours advice and help can be given for all matters.”

The Maritime Hotline is available on+49-(0)40-3190-7777 from April.

Hotline (klein)

The International Maritime Organization IMO has included new regulations regarding weighing of containers in chapter VI Regulation 2 of the SOLAS Convention.

Based on these changes, the verified gross mass of cargo containers loaded onto SOLAS ships has to be documented. Otherwise, the cargo container may not be loaded. The SOLAS Amendment has come into force on 1. July 2016.

We have now compiled your most frequently asked questions and answered them in our section FAQ.


Subsequent to the information event of the BMVI (Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) on 11.04.2016, the presentations are now available.

BG Verkehr has approved a procedure to calculate the gross mass in accordance with Method 2.

Current information on this topic can be found in our rubric "Safety and Security".

On 28. January the Finance Committee of the German Bundestag adopted the increase of the wage tax deduction for seafarers on German-flagged ships from 40% to 100%. Just one day later the Federal Council (Bundesrat) agreed to the relief for shipowners regarding wage tax.

With this law the so called 183-days-regulation will also be canceled. Shipowners will not have to pay wage tax for those seafarers who have been employed for less than 183 days. The justification of the law states that the elimination of this regulation reduces the administrative effort and increases the flexibility of shipping companies in regards to manning the ships (Bundestags-Drucksache 18-7268). The law was first introduced by the Federal Council (Bundesrat).

The law will come into force after the necessary state aid approval of the EU Commission and will at first be limited to five years to allow for an evaluation after this period.

This law is supposed to ensure the nautical know-how for the maritime economy and especially the employment of seafarers on ships under German flag.

The plenary debate at the German Bundestag regarding this law was recorded on Parlamentsfernsehen (Parliament TV).

47 states so far have ratified the Ballast Water Convention. The necessary quorum of 30 signatory states has therefore been reached, however the second criterion for coming into force of the convention, namely 35% of the world gross tonnage, has just been missed – by exactly 0.04%!

Ballastwasser (klein)

The International Maritime Organization IMO has now invited the pending flag states to join the convention. Germany has already ratified the Ballast Water Convention on 13. February 2013. Experts expect the convention to enter into force soon.

More information on the topic ballast water can be found in our rubric “Environmental Protection”.

Last year the Foundation Stiftung “Schifffahrtsstandort Deutschland” paid 21 million Euros for the vocational training and professional development of seafarers. Recipients of the foundation’s funds were training shipping companies as well as crew members who furthered their education.

Financial support was given to the vocational training of ship mechanics and assistant officers, the qualification of officers as well as professional development of navigational and engineering staff on board seagoing vessels. The seafarers have to work on board a ship flying either the German flag or that of another European country.

The aim of the foundation is to ensure in the long run as large a quantity of maritime know-how as possible by furthering highly qualified seafarers in the maritime cluster of Germany.

Please find further information about the work of the foundation under our heading "Financial Matters".

From 1. January 2016 the Berufsgenossenschaft für Transport und Verkehrwirtschaft (occupational accident insurance fund for transport and traffic) and the Unfallkasse Post und Telekom (post and telecommunications pension fund) have merged. The new occupational accident insurance fund will be operated under the name „Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehrswirtschaft Post-Logistik Telekommunikation". The abbreviation remains „BG Verkehr“.

Not much changes for shipping under German flag. Newly issued Ship Safety Certificates will carry the new name of the occupational accident insurance fund from now on. The contact details of our experts at the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr, however, have not changed. More information on this topic can be found on This is also where you can find the new image film of BG Verkehr.

Logo BG Verkehr