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News 2018

The new guidelines of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) aims to contribute to better working and living conditions of seafarers. The authors explain the different social aspects for a uniform implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention.

With the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), the International Labour Organisation ILO laid down binding and worldwide requirements which provide seafarers with the right to appropriate work and life on board sea-going vessels. Now the new Guidelines for implementing the Welfare aspects of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 follow with practical guidance.

In the guidelines it is described which social support contributes to the welfare of seafarers. The usage of the internet on board as well as in the ports plays an important role in the day-to-day life of seafarers. The protection of underage seafarers and reliable payment of wages - even in the event of illness – are further requirements with direct impact for the seafarers.

For seafarers their ships are not only workplace but for long stretches of time the place where they spent their time off. Seafarers from all around the world work and live together in limited space far from their friends and family. The guidelines explain that this difficult situation can be eased by appropriate accommodation (e.g. good furnishings, ventilation, heating, adequate separation of operational and sleeping areas), compliance with health and safety standards (medical equipment, sanitary facilities, etc.) and regard for personal needs (this also includes spaces for religious activities and recreational facilities and equipment). Other aspects that need to be taken into account are a healthy and balanced diet as well as occupational health and safety.

As seafarers usually spend only a rather short time with their ship in a port, it is crucial that the orientation at these often new and alien places is facilitated. The accessibility of urban facilities such as banks, doctors, advisory or counselling services, shopping places or recreational facilities as well as welfare facilities (e.g. seamen's missions) have proven to be important. Therefore, the member states of the ILO should support financing and organisation of these onshore social facilities.

Germany bindingly joined the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in 2013. With the German Maritime Labour Act, the legislator brought into force the provisions of the Convention in German law. For all parties involved in implementing these provisions, the German Flag State Administration also published comprehensive and recently revised Guidelines on the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention on board of German flagged ships (German only so far, English version of 2013). On the webpages of the section "Crew", there is further information given about this topic.

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

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". The changes in comparison to the previous state of medical knowledge are given in an information leaflet (in German only).

Neue medizinische Ausstattung (groß)

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has issued a safety notice for immersion suits. With several suits the glue used to attach the main zipper to the body of the suit had failed. The suits concerned are of the type Rongsheng RSF-1. Please find further details in the document referred to above.

If you have any immersion suits of this type on board, check their proper condition. If you detect any defects, please inform the market surveillance (Marktüberwachung) of the BSH.

In addition, this notice has been published in the Notices to Mariners  - Nachrichten für Seefahrer (issue 19/2018).

Find an overview of all safety notices and product recalls here.

The International Maritime Organization IMO celebrates its 70th anniversary at the 27th World Maritime Day on 27 September 2018. The Federal authorities in the port cities and towns hoist their flags to mark the occasion.

This year's theme of the World Maritime Day is "IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future". The Internationale Maritime Organization celebrates its 70th anniversary since the adoption of the IMO Convention.

The IMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations which shapes international maritime shipping like no other organization. Among its most important instruments are conventions such as SOLAS, MARPOL, MLC and STCW as well as various codes (IMSBC, Polar Code, Code on Intact Stability, Code for Fire Safety Systems, Life-Saving Appliance Code and many more).

The IMO's, by now, 173 member states have committed themselves to comply with more than 50 international instruments and see to safe, secure, sustainable, environmentally sound and efficient maritime shipping.

Over 80% of global trade takes place at sea. The IMO creates a level playing field and keeps an eye out for its impacts. It defines international standards for ship design and construction, training of seafarers, safe navigation and prevention of pollution by ships.

From 25 May 2018, the new European General Data Protection Regulation applies and it contains many new data protection provisions for the citizens of the European Union.

The authorities of the German Flag State Administration have prepared data protection information for you. It informs you about the different areas the authorities use your personal data.

Data protection information of Ship Safety Division / BG Verkehr

Data protection statement of the BSH

Find out more about our data protection policies in our statement on protection of data.

The Seafarer's Compendium of the BG Verkehr has become a popular standard work for any question regarding safety on board of sea-going vessels. In addition to the hardcopy version, an award-winning digital version for mobile devices is now available.

By now on almost every German sea-going ship, a copy of the compendium "Occupational safety and health protection on board of merchant and fishing vessels" (Handbuch See – Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz in der Seeschifffahrt und Fischerei) can be found. 69 modules illustrate with few words and "talking" pictures to what seafarers have to pay attention in order to neither put themselves or anyone else in danger. During an instruction about certain topics, the corresponding modules can be used as a basis for remarks. This book of reference is now also available as digital version for mobile devices.

Picture App Handbuch See (small)

Winner of the "eLearning Award 2018"

The implementation of the well-established compendium electronically is fashioned to serve the particular conditions at of maritime shipping. Independent of time and place and an internet connection, the essential information is available to the user both on- and offline. The user can readily change between German and English. A keyword search makes it easy to quickly find specific contents. As an additional innovation, it is now possible to document and save data like photos and notes, for example about injuries to persons or property damages and near accidents.

These many useful functionalities also managed to impress on the education fair didacta. In the category knowledge management, The BG Verkehr was awarded the "eLearning Award 2018" for their app.

The app is now available for free download in the app stores for Android and iOS operating systems.

Due to two fires on board ships during the transport of fertilizer, the IMO has published a Circular regarding conditions for the carriage of ammonium nitrate based fertilizer.

Ammonium nitrate based fertilizers are classified as Group C (non-hazardous) in the IMSBC Code, but the two casualties have proven that some fertilizers decompose under unfavourable conditions during transport and may consequently release highly toxic gases.

The Circular of the Subcommittee "Carriage of Cargoes and Containers" (CCC) of the International Maritime Organization IMO contains concrete advice on how to transport ammonium nitrate based fertilizer and what needs to be done in case of the development of decomposition or a fire.

You can find further Information on this topic under "Bulk Cargoes - IMSBC Code"

MS Purple Beach Havariekommando

Which medical equipment is required depends on the trading area, among other things. Our two new maps offer an overview of these trading areas.

The current "State of Medical Knowledge" informs about the medical equipment required on board. The scope of the equipment depends on the amount of people on board, the trading area and whether it is a fishing vessel.

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency BSH designed in cooperation with the Maritime Medical Service of BG Verkehr two maps of the trading areas to give you a better overview. One map offers an overview of the trading areas for merchant ships (without fishing vessels) and the other of the trading areas of fishing vessels.

The trading areas of merchant ships are divided into

  • port area,
  • domestic and near-coastal voyage,
  • European voyage, and
  • international voyage.

For fishing vessels, the trading areas for different sets of medical equipment are

  • coastal fishing,
  • high sea fishing, and
  • deep sea fishing.

Further information on medical equipment on ships can be found in our rubric "Maritime Medicine".

Overview of information about the implementation and practical examples

You can find interesting information about regulations regarding ballast water exchange and ballast water management in our information leaflet. In the leaflet, we explain the D-1 and D-2 standard and which one applies in which circumstances.

In addition, we explain the special regulations for Baltic Sea and North Sea and show with the aid of practical examples which rules apply in which situations. A new and visually improved map illustrates the ballast water exchange area in the North Sea.

This and further information can also be found in our FAQs on the topic and under the heading "Environmental protection / Ballast water".

Ballast water release in dock at night - Stephan Gollasch

Malaria is a dangerous infectious disease which can be caught during voyages in risk areas. If it gets detected in time, it is curable. Untreated, some forms of Malaria can cause severe organ damages and even lead to death.

The Maritime Medical Service (Seeärztlicher Dienst) of the BG Verkehr updated all important information about the disease and its prevention in the new Leaflet on Malaria. It also details how to get the case of Malaria recognized as occupational disease.

In comparison to the previous version, the Malaria leaflet of the BG Verkehr contains three alterations:

  1. The map of areas with a high risk of Malaria transmission has been updated,
  2. The information that the drug Malarone can be taken over a longer period of time,
  3. The detailed description with photos of how to prepare a blood sample for the recognition as an occupational disease later on.

For a hardcopy of the brochure of the Leaflet on Malaria please refer to Mr. Meixner, phone +49 40 36 137-236 or e-mail: klaus.meixner@bg-verkehr.de.

Please note that the old leaflet has to be replaced at the latest for the next inspection of the medicine cabinet, in accordance with section 109 paragraph 3 of the German Maritime Labour Act).

Further information on medical equipment on board of ships can be found in our rubric "Maritime Medicine".

Contribution rates for social security for 2018

Health insurance

General contribution rate (exkl. individual additional contribution)

14,60 %

share employee

7,30 %

plus additional contribution by employee (varies depending on health insurance) 


share employer

7,30 %

Long-term care insurance

contribution rate overall

2,55 %

share employee

1,275 %

share employer

1,275 %

childless overall

2,80 %

share employee

1,525 %

share employer

1,275 %

Pension insurance

General pension insurance

18,60 %

share employee

9,3 %

share employer

9,3 %

Seafarer's special fund

contribution rate

4,00 %

share employee

2,00 %

share employer

2,00 %

Unemloyment insurance

contribution rate

3,00 %

share employee

1,50 %

share employer

1,50 %

Maritime accident insurance

contribution rate seafarers

4,9 %

Fraction employees on shore in maritime businesses


Other contribution rates

contribution 1 = illness, courses of treatment (reimbursement rate 80%)

0,90 %

contribution 2 = maternity leave (reimbursement rate 100%)

0,24 %

contribution to the insolvency fund

0,06 %

*earnings subject to contributions x 1/8 (fraction) x 4,9 % (contribution rate) = contribution

Status 20.12.2017; errors and omissions excepted.

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bild aktuelle beiträge und rechengrößen

Operands concerning social security for 2018

  Reference value - § 18 SGB IV – in EUR Contribution assessment ceiling in EUR
Health- and Long-term care insurance

Entire Federal Republic

3.045,00 / month

36.540,00 / year

4.425,00 / month

53.100,00 / year

Pension- and unemployment insurance

Old German States (incl. Berlin/West)

3.045,00 / month

36.540,00 / year

6.500,00 / month

78.000,00 / year

Newly-formed German States (incl. Berlin/East)

2.695,00 / month

32.340,00 / year

5.800,00 / month

69.600,00 / year

Seafarers' special fund

Old German States (incl. Berlin/West)


6.500,00 / month

78.000,00 / year

Newly-formed German States (incl. Berlin/East)


5.800,00 / month

69.600,00 / year


Accident insurance: maximum annual income

Maximum annual income (per employee)

72.000,00 EUR

Annual earning limit

General limit

59.400,00 EUR

On-board catering– catering rates

Full catering monthly

246,00 EUR

Lunch and dinner each monthly

96,00 EUR

Breakfast monthly

51,00 EUR

Current exchange rate for non-German seafarers on GIS ships (§ 17a SGB IV)

Reference rate ECB October 2017

Valid 01.01.-31.03.2018

1 USD = 0,8506 €

1 € = 1,1756 USD

Reference rate ECB July 2017

Valid 01.10.-31.12.2017

1 USD = 0,8687 €

1 € = 1,1511 USD

Reference rate ECB April 2017

Valid 01.07.-30.09.2017

1 USD = 0,9326 €

1 € = 1,0723 USD

Status 20.12.2017; errors and omissions excepted.

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