Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Markus Steenbock
Phone: +49 40 3190-7128
Mail: markus.steenbock@bsh.de

Webcode for this Content: 20888300

Recognition of foreign certificates

As a result of COVID-19 developments, the following facilitations for the validity and issue of documents for seafarers apply with immediate effect.

Foreign certificates of competency must be recognised

Internationally comparable standards in the training and competency of seafarers are a prerequisite for greater ship safety. This also includes uniform requirements for the recognition of foreign certificates. For example, the Annex to the international STCW Convention (Regulations I/10 and I/2.7 ) requires foreign certificates of competency to be checked for authenticity and validity, inter alia, when masters or ship's officers wish to serve on ships of another State. The Administration of the flag State shall then issue an endorsement of recognition.

A certificate of equivalence is issued for competencies not covered by the STCW Convention, including competencies for service on all fishing vessels and for the engine operator (on ships less than 750 kW propulsion power). In Germany, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) is responsible for these endorsements of recognition and certificates of equivalence.

Recognition is required for the following foreign certificates:

  • navigational, marine engineering and electro-technical certificates of competency,
  • radio operator's certificates and
  • certificates of proficiency for service on tankers for masters and ship’s officers.

Recognition of certificates of proficiency/ documentary evidence (of qualification) is not required for:

  • service as a crew member at support level,
  • ship safety and security (in accordance with Chapter VI of the Annex to the STCW Convention),
  • service on passenger ships (in accordance with Chapter V of the Annex to the STCW Convention),
  • service on ships subject to the IGF Code (in accordance with Chapter V of the Annex to the STCW Convention),
  • service on ships subject to the POLAR Code (in accordance with Chapter V of the Annex to the STCW Convention).

Please also note our information on employment opportunities for refugees in maritime shipping (in German only).

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Application forms for the recognition procedure

For the sake of the environment:
Please send your applications to the BSH without plastic covers / folders.

Data protection declaration

Here you can find information about the fees.

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Conditions for the recognition of foreign certificates of competency

Foreign certificates of competency are recognised if the following conditions are met:

  • The crew member has valid certificates of competency, certificates of proficiency and radio operator's certificates.
  • The crew member has a valid German or foreign medical certificate.
  • The state which issued the certificate is one of the cooperation states of the Federal Republic of Germany. If there is no cooperation agreement yet, but the certifying state is on the White List, endorsements of recognition can be issued on a case-by-case basis.
  • The period of validity of the endorsement of recognition of a foreign navigational certificate of competency shall not exceed the period of validity of the related radio operator's certificate.
  • Recognition of the master's authority requires that he or she is an EU citizen and holds a recognised foreign certificate of competency.
  • Before taking up service on board a ship, the master must prove his knowledge of German maritime law and the German language by attending an approved course.
  • Ship's officers at management level must demonstrate knowledge of German maritime law by attending an approved course for ship's officers. The management level includes: Chief mate, chief engineer officer, second engineer officer.

Every shipowner is obliged to check the authenticity and validity of certificates of competency/proficiency and radio operator's certificates (ISM Code). For this purpose, the International Maritime Organization IMO offers a corresponding service on its website with the contact points of the individual flag states.

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Recognition procedure for medical certificates

Medical certificates must comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention for the recognition of certificates of competency/proficiency and radio operator's certificates. This is the case when

  • the certificate contains the minimum information specified in section A-I/9.7 of the STCW Code (including, inter alia, issuing authority, hearing, visual acuity, colour vision and the seafarer's signature); and
  • the examining doctor is listed in a public register of the relevant STCW Party. The State concerned shall consider such medical practitioners to be sufficiently qualified (Section A-I/9.4 of the STCW Code).

German medical certificates meet the STCW standards. Here you can find the sample of the German certificate and the list of approved doctors.

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List of STCW-compliant foreign medical certificates

Not all foreign medical certificates meet the STCW requirements. Shipowners shall be obliged to check the certificates of their seafarers in this respect. For the issuance of German certificates for seafarers (e.g. certificates of competency, certificates of proficiency, endorsements of recognition), foreign medical certificates from the following countries can be used (= STCW-compliant):

State (STCW Party) List of recognised medical practitioners to conduct medical fitness examinations
Web link Pdf document

Antigua & Barbuda

List Antigua & Barbuda

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Australia

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Bangladesh

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Belgium

List of physicians outside Belgium
List of physicians inside Belgium

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Bulgaria

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Canada

List Canada

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China

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Croatia

List Croatia

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Cyprus

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Czech Republic

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Denmark

List Denmark

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Estonia

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Ethiopia

List Ethiopia

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Finland

List Finland

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France

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Georgia

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Ghana

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Great Britain

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Hong Kong

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Hungary

List Hungary

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Jamaica

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Iceland

List Iceland

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India

List India

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Ireland

List Ireland

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Italy

List Italy
Supplementary List
Physicians outside of Italy

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Latvia

List Latvia

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Lithuania

List Lithuania

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Mauritius

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Myanmar

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New Zealand

List New Zealand

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The Netherlands

List of the Netherlands

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Norway

List Norway

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Panama

List Panama
List of physicians in the Philippinnes recognised by Panama

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Philippinnes

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Poland

List Poland

 

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Portugal

List Portugal

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Romania

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Seychelles

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Singapore

List Singapore

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Slovakia

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Slovenia

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South Africa

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Sri Lanka

List Sri Lanka

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Sweden

List Sweden

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Switzerland

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Thailand

List Thailand

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Turkey

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Ukraine

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The list is continuously updated. You can inform us by e-mail of states which in your opinion issue STCW-compliant medical certificates. We will check this and add this state to the list if confirmed. The verification does not include a review or evaluation of medical findings. Here you will find further information on the different medical quality of foreign medical certificates.

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