Flag certificates

For ships up to 15 m hull length

The BSH can issue a flag certificate for ships with a maximum hull length of 15 m on the basis of the "Flaggenrechtsgesetz" (flag law act). It serves as proof of the right to fly the German flag (but is not proof of ownership) and is internationally valid according to the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1958 Convention on the High Seas.

The prerequisite for the issue of a flag certificate is a ship intended for navigation. Such a ship must be suitable for navigation by reason , inter alia, of its design, superstructures and dimensions. The seaworthiness classification contained in Directive 2013/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council (Recreational Craft Directive) is used to determine whether a vessel is intended for navigation. Vehicles that are not suitable for navigation can apply for an International Boat Licence from DSV (German sailing association), DMYV (German motor yachting association) or ADAC (general German automobile club).

The flag certificate is issued to vessels owned by nationals of a Member State of the European Community. The ship must not be registered in any other shipping register (shipping register of sea-going ships, inland shipping register or foreign register). Ships flying the German flag for which a flag certificate is to be issued must have a German home port (an independent municipality or town on navigable waters). Both the home port and the ship's name must be clearly visible and firmly attached to the ship (in a font size of at least 10 cm).

The validity of the flag certificate is 8 years and can be extended. They must notify the BSH of any change to the registered data or loss of the flag certificate without culpable delay. The fee for an issue, a change or an extension is 88,- € and has to be paid in advance.

You must return a flag certificate to the BSH immediately (no fees are associated with this) if the vessel

  • is sold,
  • decommissioned or
  • was entered in a German or foreign shipping register.


Please use the following forms (only available in German), print out each completed form, sign it and send it to the BSH by post.

Please submit your application in good time. Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received. If there is a high volume of applications, you will have to expect a longer processing time. Please note that you must pay the fees in advance:

Guide (for filling out) – Electronic Forms (PDF, 119KB, Not barrier-free file.)

Antrag auf Ausstellung eines neuen Flaggenzertifikates

Antrag auf Änderung oder Verlängerung eines bestehenden Flaggenzertifikates

Rückgabe eines Flaggenzertifikates

Additional attachments:

Anlage Eignergemeinschaft (wenn es mehr als zwei Eigentümer gibt)

Antragsvollmacht (wenn Sie den Antrag für den Eigentümer stellen)

Erklärung der beauftragten Person (wenn der Antragsteller keinen Wohnsitz in Deutschland hat)

Eidesstattliche Versicherung bei Eigenbau (wenn das Schiff ein Eigenbau ist)

Photos from the ship to the application

When applying for a new flag certificate, you must submit 2 photos of your ship.

The two sketches below show what must be visible on these photos:

  • the side view of the whole ship and
  • the stern view showing the fixed ship's name and home port