Use of copyrighted materials of the BSH by third parties

Nautical charts, books, texts, photos and other products issued by the BSH are protected by copyright and may only be used by third parties with the consent of the BSH. Depending on the purpose and scope of use, different licences may be granted. This page contains an overview of the available licences and the requirements for obtaining a licence. Not all requests for re-uses can be clearly assigned at first glance. Therefore it is always recommended to contact the person in charge, who will advise you comprehensively about the most favourable options for you. If necessary, you will then receive an application form by e-mail.

Free of charge licences

Free of charge licences can be granted both for one-off uses of BSH material and for repeated uses. The prerequisite is that the intended uses are non-commercial projects or projects of low economic value. A distinction is made between one-off licences and royalty-free licence agreements.

One-off licences

Typical applications for which a one-off licence is granted are the use of chart extracts for websites (e. g. to show the location of a company) or in magazines.

Royalty-free licence agreements

In the case of repeated use of BSH materials or permanent use, a licence agreement must be concluded. Examples are the use of chart extracts by companies offering burials at see, the use of chart data in the context of scientific projects or of charts as a basis for light boxes in which the locations of lighthouses and beacons can be illuminated.

The following applies to both licence types

  • “Free of charge” means that no royalties have to be paid for the use of BSH material. The required material itself must be purchased.
  • The licences can only be granted for material for which the BSH holds the copyright. If, for example, you would like to use a chart extract that shows foreign sea areas in addition to German territory, the licence will only be granted for the German part. To obtain a licence for parts covering foreign waters, a separate agreement must be concluded with the respective hydrographic office.
  • The BSH's approval is also required if you wish to use charts published by a private publisher, as the copyright of the data may lie with the BSH.
  • The limit for a low economic value is a total net revenue from the sale of all products for which BSH material has been used of 5,000 € per year, whereby a notional value can be assumed for free of charge products. This is the case when revenue is, for example, not generated by the product’s price but by the sale of advertisements in or on the product. With regard to the value limit, the person in charge of licensing matters should be consulted in any case!

In principle, no one-off licence or royalty-free licence agreement is granted if the product, for which BSH material is to be used,

  • serves navigational purposes,
  • serves as an instructional chart (in textbooks or other teaching material),
  • contains tidal predictions for more than 7 days,
  • is an exact or very similar copy of a BSH product.

As a rule, requests for texts and photos will also be rejected. Our book publications and (free of charge) information brochures are not available for licensing.

If you would like to use nautical charts containing German sea areas as a basis for works of art, we will be pleased to inform you about the special rules applicable to them.

Licence Agreements

In some cases the conclusion of a licence agreement is required which involves the payment of royalties. This includes all uses for which no one-off licence and no royalty-free licence agreement can be granted.
In any case, advice should be seeked before submitting an application. The person in charge can then decide which licence agreement is suitable for your purpose and send you the appropriate application form.

Additional Information


Susanne Dirkwinkel
+49 40 3190-2115

For all questions about certificates for seafarers, please click here: Deutsche Flagge – Training and competence