German Flag State Admission

If you’re confused about the German Flag State Admission process, we’ve prepared this interview which we hope will answer a few of your questions.

German Flag State Admission

With the German Flag State Admission (GFSA) scheduled to become compulsory for any PMSC on board a German flagged vessel from 1st December 2013, we’ve created this article to provide a little clarity for our readers. We put our questions to Sebastian Hons, Managing Director of Marine Risk & Quality – the only company on the market that offers preparation and guidance for PMSCs on the German Flag State Admission.

MSR: What exactly is the German Flag State Admission?

SH: The German Flag State Admission (GFSA) is based on the “Regulation on the Permission of Security Companies on Seagoing Vessels” which passed the approval of the Government on 24th of April 2013. As a result of this, it has become an amendment to the German trade regulation laws.

MSR: Who will be affected by it?

SH: From 1st of December 2013 any PMSC registered in Germany is obliged to have passed the GFSA in order to operate legally. Moreover, any foreign PMSC that conducts maritime security operations on German flagged vessels is required by law to have passed the GFSA by 1st of December.

MSR: What is the difference between the GFSA and the ISO/PAS 28007?

SH: The GFSA demands a similarly high level of management compliance system as does the ISO/PAS 28007. Indeed, some requirements are even more strict and detailed than those of 28007. Thus, GFSA is a good preparation for ISO 28007 and vice versa. Nevertheless, the GFSA has got its own particularities and some provisions are unknown to ISO. However, PMSCs that have successfully obtained GFSA are well prepared for ISO 28007.

MSR: Who is in charge of the GFSA?

SH: The main authority dealing with the applications for the GFSA is the so called
BAFA, i.e. the “Federal Office of Economics and Export Control” located in Eschborn. Co-assigned authorities are the Federal Maritime Police situated in Neustadt in Holstein as well as the weapons authority Hamburg.

MSR: What is the GFSA about?

SH: The GFSA is a very comprehensive quality management compliance approach whereby PMSCs are forced to prove their competence and provide documentation in numerous areas. The process begins with a thorough verification of the qualifications of the management and operational personnel including evidence of firearms licenses, operating licenses, flag state approvals and home state registrations. Then, it analyses the documentation and proof of sustainability of all key processes within the company.  Such key processes are, for example, the training and education system which has to ensure that all operational personnel has satisfactory knowledge of: relevant German and international legislation, ISM and ISPS Code, basic medical aid, military operations in the area, relevant tactics to defend a vessel.  Another key process, which has to be documented, is the operations planning.  The PMSC has to prove its access to reliable intelligence sources and how this recent information is integrated in the risk assessment of each transit.  Last but not least the PMSC has to provide for the transmission of mandatory reports to the German authorities mentioned above when planning, realising and successfully completing a transit on a German flagged vessel.

MSR: Is documentation available in English?

SH: For the time being there is no official legislation or documentation available in the English language.

MSR: How long will the admission process approximately take?

SH: That is a difficult question to answer. It depends on several factors, i.e. on how well and complete the application is prepared, whether the PMSC uses professional guidance through the application process and last but not least on the work load of the German authority in charge (i.e. BAFA).

MSR: What is your recommendation for PMSCs who wish to pass the GFSA?

SH: I recommend PMSCs to engage with a professional German agent who has in-depth knowledge and insight of PMSCs and knows the GFSA and all relevant German authorities. This will save much time, effort and costs. Appointing a law firm is not an obligation and, indeed, might not be very helpful as PMSCs need to revise their internal processes rather than provide any legal statements.  Marine Risk & Quality does prepare PMSCs for the GFSA and also the ISO 28007.  We have prepared comprehensive but easy to apply checklists for the successful preparation for the German Flag State Admission. For us it is easy to communicate on your behalf with the German authorities.

About Marine Risk & Quality:

MRQ is an affiliated company of the Lampe & Schwartze Group (which is a marine insurance agency in Bremen). MRQ specializes in the vetting of armed guards by applying a very comprehensive approach including in-depth checks of operators in the fields of maritime-nautical-, operational-tactical- and psychological abilities. Last but not least ‘on board performance audits’ allow for adequate verification of the quality of PMSCs. MRQ prepares PMSCs for the successful passing of the German flag state admission as well as ISO 28007.

MRQ is holding a workshop on the essential requirements of the German Flag State Admission in London on 16 July for non-German PMSCs – Click here for more information.

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