BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Referat ISM/ILO
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg

Tilo Berger
Phone: +49 40 361 37-213

Sven Reese
Phone: +49 40 361 37-313

Kathrin Saß
Phone: +49 40 361 37-260

Florian Reise
Phone: +49 40 361 37-214

Passenger registration

Shipowners have to count and register persons on board of passenger ships

Be a equipped for an emergency - this motto also applies at sea. In case of a larger ship accident it is important for the rescue team to know how many people are on board. Without this knowledge, an effective search and rescue is impossible in case of an emergency - especially not on a ferry or an excursion ship with several hundred passengers.

That is why the European legislator requires from shipowners of passenger ships departing from an EU port an exact counting and registration of anyone on board. This required registration procedure, in accordance with Directive 98/41/EC, last amended by Directive (EU) 2017/2109, has the additional advantage that there are never more people on board than is permitted for the ship and its safety equipment.

EU member states have to ensure with inspections that the registration procedures on board passenger ships meet the requirements of Directive 98/41/EC.

The shipowner of a passenger ship is obliged to appoint a passenger registrar. As of 20 December 2023, this person ensures that the required information is reported in the National Single Window (NSW, Shipping companies may not keep collected personal data  for longer than is required and in no case after the voyage in question has been completed successfully.

Requirements of a registration procedure

The European legislator divided passenger ships into two categories, to which different registration procedure requirements apply:

  • Category I - all passenger ships

When the passenger ship departs from a port,  all persons on board have to be counted and the number of persons shall be reported to the master and the NSW before departure.

  • Category II - voyage of more than 20 nautical miles from the point of departure to the next port of call

In addition to the counting and reporting (category I) for voyages of more that 20 nautical miles from the point of departure, the following information about all persons on board has to be registered:

  1. Last name and first name,
  2. sex,
  3. citizenship,
  4. date of birth,
  5. when volunteered by a passenger, information concerning the need for special care or assistance in emergency situations, and
  6. when volunteered by the passenger, a contact number in case of an emergency.

This information shall be reported to the NSW not later than 15 minutes after departure of the ship.

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bild fahrgastregistrierung


For some particular passenger ships, the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr may issue exceptions for the requirement to count and register persons on board. This is mostly the case for passenger ships operating regular services in protected sea areas. More on this in Article 9 of Directive 98/41/EC.

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On passenger ships under German Flag, the Ship Safety Division of the BG Verkehr verifies that the registration procedure complies with the requirements of Directive 98/41/EC. Inspections are carried out as part of the existing inspection regimes such as port state control and flag state surveys.

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