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Source: BUS Sachsen-Anhalt (Linie6PLus)

Applying for a licence to drive on federal waterways (patent or certificate of competency)

Description

If you want to drive a vehicle on federal inland waterways, you generally need a driving licence.

Driving licence on federal waterways

On federal waterways, you may only drive a vessel if you are the holder of a corresponding permit. The authorizations are divided into different patent classes:

  • Boatmaster's license A: for driving all vessels on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the limit of navigation
  • Boatmaster's certificate B: for driving all vessels on inland waterways
  • Boatmaster's certificate C1: for driving vessels of less than 35 metres in length on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the maritime frontier, except:
    • authorised passenger ships carrying more than 12 passengers
    • authorised passenger craft carrying more than 12 passengers
    • Push boats and tugboats with more than 73.6 kW (100 hp) propulsion power
  • Boatmaster's certificate C2: for driving vessels of less than 35 metres in length on inland waterways, except:
    • authorised passenger ships carrying more than 12 passengers
    • authorised passenger craft carrying more than 12 passengers
    • Push boats and tugboats with more than 73.6 kW (100 hp) propulsion power
  • Fireboat patent D1: for driving fireboats and civil protection vehicles on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the border of navigation
  • Fireboat patent D2: for driving fireboats and civil protection vehicles on inland waterways
  • Recreational craft product (patent class E): for driving recreational craft of not more than 25 metres in length on inland waterways
  • Ferry licence (patent class F): for driving ferries for a specific ferry station

Certain official vehicles of the Federation and the Länder do not require a permit issued by the GDWS to drive official vehicles. These include:

  • Official vehicles of the Bundeswehr, the Federal Customs Administration, the Federal Police, the riot police and the water police of the Länder with a length of less than 25 meters.
  • Service vehicles of civil protection and disaster control, the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration, the shipping administration of the state and the fire brigade with a length of less than 20 meters.

Rhine patents

Special regulations apply on the Rhine. You may only drive a vessel there if you hold a Rhine patent or hold a boatmaster's certificate recognised as equivalent by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine for the respective type and size of vessel and for the route to be crossed.

A distinction must be made between:

  • Large patent: for driving all vehicles on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the maritime frontier
  • Small patent: to drive a vehicle with a length of less than 35 meters,
    • intended for the carriage of no more than 12 passengers
    • provided that:
      • is not a tug or push boat, or
      • no coupled vehicles
  • Sports patent: for driving a sports vehicle with a length of less than 25 metres
  • Authority patent: for driving government vehicles and fireboats

Special regulations apply to small vehicles up to a length of 15 metres: These may be driven on the Rhine with a licence granted in accordance with national regulations. In Germany, for example, this is the sports boat license.

In order to obtain a boatmaster's certificate or Rhine patent, you must pass an examination at the Directorate-General for Waterways and Navigation (GDWS).

Further proofs and patents

For vehicles over 15 metres in length, a special route knowledge is also required on certain inland waterways and the Rhine. You will also receive proof of special route knowledge through an examination at the GDWS.

A patent can also be granted as a Danube captain's license. They will then be allowed to drive vehicles on the Danube in international traffic, i.e. also outside the scope of the Inland Waterway Licence Ordinance.

You must apply for the boatmaster's certificate or patent in writing to the Directorate-General for Waterways and Navigation (GDWS):

  • Download the application form from the Electronic Waterway Information Service (ELWIS). Fill it out completely and print it.
  • Add the necessary evidence. Above all, let yourself be examined by a licensed doctor and issue proof of medical fitness.
  • Submit the application documents to the Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping.
  • Apply to the competent authority for a certificate of good conduct for submission to an authority. Have the certificate of good conduct sent to the Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping.
  • If you meet all the requirements for the respective boatmaster's certificate, the Directorate-General for Waterways and Navigation will admit you to the examination and agree on a suitable examination date with you.
  • Take the exam. If you have passed the test, you will receive a provisional boatmaster's certificate directly on site, with which you can drive a vehicle for three months. Within these three months, your personal patent card will be issued by Bundesdruckerei and sent to you by post.
  • If you have not passed the exam, you can retake the exam after a certain embargo period has expired. As a rule, the examination board will impose a blocking period of three to six months on you. The examination fee will be charged again for the repeat examination. Those parts of the examination that you passed in the first attempt will generally remain recognised for you, so that you will only be re-examined for the failed parts of the examination.
  • Physical and mental fitness to drive a vehicle
  • Reliability (including no previous convictions for traffic offences)
  • Passing the relevant exam
  • Depending on the type of certificate requested, a certain minimum age:
    • 21 years for the large and small Rhine patent, the authority patent and the inland waterway boatman's license A, B, C, D and F
    • 18 years for the sports patent and the inland waterway skipper certificate E
  • From the age of 50, you must regularly submit a recent medical certificate to prove your suitability again. Proof is required
    • at the age of 50, 55, 60 and 65 and
    • annually from the age of 65
  • Medical certificate attesting to your physical and mental fitness in Rhine or inland navigation (not older than three months)
  • Copy of your identity card or passport
  • Certificate of good conduct for submission to an authority (document type "O")
  • current passport photo
  • Presentation of the service record book

Depending on the scope of the audit, different fees apply:

  • Admission to the examination: EUR 147 or EUR 158
  • Examination fee: between EUR 390 and EUR 585 (the exact amount depends on whether, for example, a route customer test is carried out at the same time or a practical test is included)

Your application and all documents should be submitted to the relevant branch office no later than four weeks before the desired examination date. Due to the high number of applicants, however, you will usually have to expect significantly longer waiting times until the exam.

Depending on the number of applications and examination location.
Examinations usually take place every two to three months.

The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Federal Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure

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