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The Swiss Maritime
Navigation Office
Elisabethenstrasse 33
P.O. Box
CH-4010 Basel
Tel. +41 (0)58 467 11 20
Fax +41 (0)58 467 11 29

Yachts section:
Tel. +41 (0)58 467 11 26

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Merchant ships

The Swiss merchant fleet comprises 46 ships owned and operated by six companies. The Swiss Maritime Navigation Office monitors compliance with all relevant legal treaties, oversees the administration of the fleet, and represents Switzerland in international organisations.

The Swiss merchant marine fleet consists of 46 ships with a total capacity of 1 million tonnes (deadweight tonnage - DWT), corresponding to one pro mille of global tonnage. The fleet includes bulk goods freighters, container ships, multi-purpose freighters and tankers for asphalt and other products. These ships operate worldwide, as needed.
The fleet is operated by six shipping companies, all of which are required to have their headquarters in Switzerland. Ship captains must periodically report to the Swiss representatives abroad (embassies, consulates) charged with approving the signing on and off of ship crews. Shipowners must provide weekly updates about the current location of Swiss ocean-going ships. 

The Swiss Maritime Navigation Office has the following responsibilities concerning the merchant fleet:

  • to monitor that shipowners respect all legal requirements;
  • to issue clearance certificates (ship licences);
  • to monitor compliance with regulations concerning construction, security, equipment and environmental protection. The SMNO and recognised classification societies carry out technical and administrative controls in shipyards and on ships;
  • to monitor compliance with labour laws concerning the crew;
  • to issue seaman's record books for Swiss crew members;
  • to endorse foreign certificates and diplomas in accordance with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STWC);
  • to prepare documentation for Swiss ratification of international conventions concerning seafaring;
  • to report violations committed on Swiss ships and handle appeals against disciplinary action;
  • to represent Switzerland in relevant international bodies;
  • to enforce regulations, technical measures and commercial policy taken abroad in the field of maritime shipping.