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Container ship from above

Source: AdobeStock / Kalyakan

Topical information on maritime shipping can be found here (in German).

Topical information on inland navigation can be found here (in German).

Information on shipping traffic (as at 9 April 2020)

  • Maritime shipping: maintain the functioning of maritime ports as hubs of global trade.
  • Reduce checks of ships flying a foreign flag and make them safer. They will be carried out by an incident team and only in the event of an emergency (collisions or grounding). (Further information at the end of the article)
  • Until 30 June 2020, Germany will accept all ship and seafarers’ certificates that would currently have to be renewed. This guarantees that seafarers can continue their work. (Further information at the end of the article)
  • Inland navigation: prioritisation of hours of operation of locks, lock control centres, traffic control centres and vessel traffic service centres with a view to ensuring the security of supply, e.g. for the chemical industry as well as the supply of mineral oil and energy and container services.
  • In the context of health care on ships, it was moreover decided that medical protective equipment for sea-going ships is not subject to the current export restrictions. The objective is to keep seaports fully functional as hubs of worldwide trade. (Further information can be found here) (in German)
  • For advice and information on transport operations in combined transport, please contact Studiengesellschaft für den Kombinierten Verkehr e. V. (Research Association for Combined Transport) at +49 30 2061376-0 or http://www.sgkv.de/ (in German).

1. Ship's statutory certificates

The following applies to German-flagged ships:

  • Regarding the endorsement of certificates: due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, the mandatory shore-based service for all statutory surveys is herewith suspended until 30 June 2020, however no longer than until three months after the end of the time window for the annual survey.
  • Regarding the endorsement of certificates: if the mandatory periodical surveys cannot be carried out due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, the mandatory surveys are suspended until 30 June 2020, however no longer than until three months after the end of the time window for the annual survey.
  • Regarding expiring certificates: if the mandatory renewal survey cannot be carried out due to the COVID-19 mitigation measures, the required surveys are suspended. The German flag State administration currently issues electronic short-term certificates with a validity of three months for ships affected by this exceptional situation.

All technical and operational requirements have to be complied with during this period.

2. Seafarers’ certificates

Due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, the following rules with regard to seafarers’ certificates apply with immediate effect.

  • The validity of all seafarers’ certificates (certificates of competency, certificates of professional competence and evidence of qualification) issued by the German shipping administration or by certified course providers and that will expire before 1 September 2020 is extended for 6 months; no application by the individual seafarer is needed for this purpose. The validity of all German certificates of fitness for service at sea with a regular validity of 2 years that expired after 1 January 2020 is extended to 30 June 2020; no application by the individual seafarer is needed for this purpose.
  • The validity of endorsements of recognition issued by the German shipping administration that will expire before 1 September 2020 is extended for up to 6 months. The extension of the validity of the endorsements of recognition is in line with the measures taken in the context of the corona crisis by the competent administration that issues certificates.
  • The German shipping administration continues to accept applications for the issuance of certificates, will process them as far as possible under the current circumstances and recommends that seafarers file the applications as usual.
  • For the time being, the following rules apply: seafarers whose certificates of competency and certificates of professional competence (documents) will expire in the near future and who are registered for a refresher course that will not take place due to the spread of COVID-19 can submit the application form as usual. Seafarers will get their documents renewed for the usual period of 5 years if all other requirements are met and proof of registration for the refresher course, including the cancellation, is attached to the application. The notice issued together with the documents will include an obligation to submit documentary evidence of refresher training within six months from the date of the issuance of the documents. For safety reasons, this rule does not apply to the participation in courses cancelled due to COVID-19 if these are required for the first qualification.

3. Port State Control

Germany has suspended all regular port state control inspections of foreign-flagged vessels as a precaution in relation to the spread of COVID-19. These measures entered into force on 16 March 2020. Inspections will be carried out by an "incident team" and only in the event of an emergency (collisions or grounding).

Due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, Germany currently accepts, until 30 June 2020, all ship certificates and seafarers’ certificates that expired after 1 January 2020.

4. Security inspections

All control measures and compliance measures in accordance with Part A 4.4 and 19 of the ISPS-Code on board German-flagged vessels worldwide and in accordance with SOLAS XI-2 Regulation 9.1 on board foreign-flagged vessels in German ports will be suspended until 30 June 2020.

5. Ship's statutory certificates required under the provisions of the German Maritime Labour Act

In the case of an expiring Maritime Labour or Fishing Labour Certificate, the mandatory inspections are suspended if the renewal survey cannot be carried out due to COVID-19 mitigation measures. The German flag State administration currently issues electronic short-term certificates with a validity of three months for ships affected by this exceptional situation.

6. MARPOL and ballast water inspections, inspections in accordance with the Sulphur Directive

The frequency of ship inspections in accordance with MARPOL, the Ballast Water Convention and/or the Sulphur Directive (EU) 2016/802 as carried out by the German police have been reduced due to staff shortages and police forces being deployed to deal with priority tasks related to the containment of the virus.