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LICENSING AND CERTIFICATION

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING LICENSING AND CERTIFICATION

USCG License

Before purchasing a course or pursuing a license, we highly recommend that you consult our “Career Tracks” to see if you indeed qualify for the license you seek to obtain. Not everyone can obtain a license by taking courses, you MUST have sufficient sea time as determined by the United States Code of Federal Regulations and United States Coast Guard. If you have insufficient sea time to obtain your license and have already taken a course, the course is valid for 12 months to obtain the necessary sea time and apply for your license. 

Documenting your sea service with the USCG is relatively straight-forward. It is important to always keep track of your sea time using a log book. If you are not the Master of your vessel, make sure to have your captain or superior sign your log book to validate your sea service. That way, when you are applying for your license or upgrading, you have your sea time logged and ready to go. 

Observe the following when submitting your application to the National Maritime Center:

For documenting sea time on vessels less than 200 Gross Tons, use this form here.

  • Remember that you must complete a separate Small Vessel Sea Service Form for each vessel you served aboard.
  • If you are the owner of a vessel on which you are claiming service, you must also submit proof of ownership for that vessel. Acceptable proof of ownership may include: 1. Title 2. Registration (state registered vessels) 3. Certificate of Documentation (U.S. Coast Guard registered vessels) 4. Proof of insurance (which clearly identifies the vessel) 5. Bill(s) of sale. 
  • If you are signing as the owner of a corporation that owns the vessel, you must include a copy of proof of ownership of the company, such as a copy of the articles of incorporation. (See 46 CFR 10.232.)
  • Photographs or imagery of vessels are not acceptable as proof of ownership. 
  • If you are not the owner of the vessel, someone with knowledge of your service must attest to its accuracy and validity in the proper location on the form by signing it and completing the associated required information.

For documenting sea time on vessels more than 200 Gross Tons, you will typically be issued discharge papers or documentation by the Master of your vessel. The following qualifies.

  • Certificates of discharge
  • Letters on official letterhead indicating the vessel details, dates of service, waters of
    service, and position(s) served in
  • Other official documents such as service logs or discharge books from marine
    companies.

Those unfamiliar with the process of documenting sea service might ask the following questions:

What counts as sea service?

  • Sea service is a measure of a mariner’s lifetime experience on boats, whether recreational,
    commercial, or military. It may be counted from the day a mariner turns age 16 and
    accumulates over his or her lifetime.
  • A day of sea service is any day that a mariner served upon a vessel in an assigned position in
    either the deck or engineering department of a vessel (not a passenger). The position may
    include duties such as: handling lines, being a lookout, steering the boat, and other
    navigational or propulsion functions.
  • Sea service never expires and may be reused when applying for new endorsements. It is the
    mariner’s responsibility to keep copies of all sea service records.

What counts as a “day”?

  • A “day,” as defined by the regulations, is 8 hours of watch-standing or day-working, not to
    include overtime.
  • Only on vessels of less than 100 gross registered tons (GRT): Credit for a full day
    will only be given for service of 4 hours or more (See 46 CFR 10.107, definition of “Day”).
    No credit will ever be given for days in which less than 4 hours were served.
  • For the purposes of defining sea service requirements, the Coast Guard considers 1 month
    as 30 days, and 1 year as 12 months (or 360 days).

When can I claim time-and-a-half credit?

  • For most vessels, no additional credit may be received for periods served over 8 hours.
    However, on vessels authorized by 46 U.S.C. 8104, 46 CFR 15.705, and the vessel’s manning
    requirements to operate a two-watch system, a 12-hour working day may in some cases
    be creditable as 1 1/2 days of service.
  • If you work on a vessel operating with a Coast Guard authorized six-on-six-off watch system
    with only two watch standing officers (i.e., certain crew boats, supply boats, towboats and
    some commercial fishing boats), you may claim 1 1/2 days for each 12-hour day worked.
  • For more information on this topic, please see 12 Hour Day / Time-and-a-Half Credit
For more information regarding documenting your sea service with the USCG, visit the link here.
  • Depending on your sea time experience, you should either pursue an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV) license or a Master 100 ton. Before pursuing a license you should determine how much sea time you have. View our Career Tracks to see review the requirements.
  • If you have insufficient sea time to obtain a Captain’s license, we recommend obtaining more sea time or starting as an Able Bodied Seaman. 
  • Any terms used to define a license can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations or CFRs. If you don’t find an answer to one of your questions here on NEMO, simply search your question and read the relevant CFR. 
  • Inland: Inland Waters means the navigable waters of the United States shoreward of the navigational demarcation lines dividing the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States and the waters of the Great Lakes on the United States side of the International Boundary.
    • Inland licenses are typically only used by those operating vessels upon rivers or lakes. If you are looking to operate offshore, you should pursue a Near Coastal or Oceans license. 
    • The US COLREGS Demarcation lines can be found here
  • Near Coastal: Nearcoastal means ocean waters not more than 200 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions, except for MMCs endorsed as Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel for which nearcoastal is limited to waters not more than 100 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions
    • If you seek a Master’s license and do not have sufficient sea time for Near Coastal, we recommend that you begin with an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels license and then upgrade once you have the sufficient sea time. 
  • Oceans: Oceans means the waters seaward of the Boundary Lines as described in 46 CFR part 7. For the purposes of establishing sea service credit, the waters of the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska, and the inland waters of another country are not considered oceans.

You will need to mail your completed application to the National Maritime Center for review. The NMC has done an excellent job of laying out all the steps to apply for a Merchant Mariner Credential on their website here.

Before purchasing a course or pursuing a license, we highly recommend that you consult our “Career Tracks” to see if you indeed qualify for the license you seek to obtain. Not everyone can obtain a license by taking courses, you MUST have sufficient sea time as determined by the United States Code of Federal Regulations and United States Coast Guard. If you have insufficient sea time to obtain your license and have already taken a course, the course is valid for 12 months to obtain the necessary sea time and apply for your license. 

Documenting your sea service with the USCG is relatively straight-forward. It is important to always keep track of your sea time using a log book. If you are not the Master of your vessel, make sure to have your captain or superior sign your log book to validate your sea service. That way, when you are applying for your license or upgrading, you have your sea time logged and ready to go. 

Observe the following when submitting your application to the National Maritime Center:

For documenting sea time on vessels less than 200 Gross Tons, use this form here.

  • Remember that you must complete a separate Small Vessel Sea Service Form for each vessel you served aboard.
  • If you are the owner of a vessel on which you are claiming service, you must also submit proof of ownership for that vessel. Acceptable proof of ownership may include: 1. Title 2. Registration (state registered vessels) 3. Certificate of Documentation (U.S. Coast Guard registered vessels) 4. Proof of insurance (which clearly identifies the vessel) 5. Bill(s) of sale. 
  • If you are signing as the owner of a corporation that owns the vessel, you must include a copy of proof of ownership of the company, such as a copy of the articles of incorporation. (See 46 CFR 10.232.)
  • Photographs or imagery of vessels are not acceptable as proof of ownership. 
  • If you are not the owner of the vessel, someone with knowledge of your service must attest to its accuracy and validity in the proper location on the form by signing it and completing the associated required information.

For documenting sea time on vessels more than 200 Gross Tons, you will typically be issued discharge papers or documentation by the Master of your vessel. The following qualifies.

  • Certificates of discharge
  • Letters on official letterhead indicating the vessel details, dates of service, waters of
    service, and position(s) served in
  • Other official documents such as service logs or discharge books from marine
    companies.

Those unfamiliar with the process of documenting sea service might ask the following questions:

What counts as sea service?

  • Sea service is a measure of a mariner’s lifetime experience on boats, whether recreational,
    commercial, or military. It may be counted from the day a mariner turns age 16 and
    accumulates over his or her lifetime.
  • A day of sea service is any day that a mariner served upon a vessel in an assigned position in
    either the deck or engineering department of a vessel (not a passenger). The position may
    include duties such as: handling lines, being a lookout, steering the boat, and other
    navigational or propulsion functions.
  • Sea service never expires and may be reused when applying for new endorsements. It is the
    mariner’s responsibility to keep copies of all sea service records.

What counts as a “day”?

  • A “day,” as defined by the regulations, is 8 hours of watch-standing or day-working, not to
    include overtime.
  • Only on vessels of less than 100 gross registered tons (GRT): Credit for a full day
    will only be given for service of 4 hours or more (See 46 CFR 10.107, definition of “Day”).
    No credit will ever be given for days in which less than 4 hours were served.
  • For the purposes of defining sea service requirements, the Coast Guard considers 1 month
    as 30 days, and 1 year as 12 months (or 360 days).

When can I claim time-and-a-half credit?

  • For most vessels, no additional credit may be received for periods served over 8 hours.
    However, on vessels authorized by 46 U.S.C. 8104, 46 CFR 15.705, and the vessel’s manning
    requirements to operate a two-watch system, a 12-hour working day may in some cases
    be creditable as 1 1/2 days of service.
  • If you work on a vessel operating with a Coast Guard authorized six-on-six-off watch system
    with only two watch standing officers (i.e., certain crew boats, supply boats, towboats and
    some commercial fishing boats), you may claim 1 1/2 days for each 12-hour day worked.
  • For more information on this topic, please see 12 Hour Day / Time-and-a-Half Credit
For more information regarding documenting your sea service with the USCG, visit the link here.
  • Depending on your sea time experience, you should either pursue an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV) license or a Master 100 ton. Before pursuing a license you should determine how much sea time you have. View our Career Tracks to see review the requirements.
  • If you have insufficient sea time to obtain a Captain’s license, we recommend obtaining more sea time or starting as an Able Bodied Seaman. 
  • Any terms used to define a license can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations or CFRs. If you don’t find an answer to one of your questions here on NEMO, simply search your question and read the relevant CFR. 
  • Inland: Inland Waters means the navigable waters of the United States shoreward of the navigational demarcation lines dividing the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States and the waters of the Great Lakes on the United States side of the International Boundary.
    • Inland licenses are typically only used by those operating vessels upon rivers or lakes. If you are looking to operate offshore, you should pursue a Near Coastal or Oceans license. 
    • The US COLREGS Demarcation lines can be found here
  • Near Coastal: Nearcoastal means ocean waters not more than 200 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions, except for MMCs endorsed as Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel for which nearcoastal is limited to waters not more than 100 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions 
    • If you seek a Master’s license and do not have sufficient sea time for Near Coastal, we recommend that you begin with an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels license and then upgrade once you have the sufficient sea time. 
  • Oceans: Oceans means the waters seaward of the Boundary Lines as described in 46 CFR part 7. For the purposes of establishing sea service credit, the waters of the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska, and the inland waters of another country are not considered oceans.

You will need to mail your completed application to the National Maritime Center for review. The NMC has done an excellent job of laying out all the steps to apply for a Merchant Mariner Credential on their website here.

Dominica License

Before purchasing a course or pursuing a license, we highly recommend that you consult our “Career Tracks” to see if you indeed qualify for the license you seek to obtain. Not everyone can obtain a license by taking courses, you MUST have sufficient sea time as determined by the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration. If you have insufficient sea time to obtain your license and have already taken a course, the course is valid for 12 months to obtain the necessary sea time and apply for your license.

All regulations pertaining to Mariner certification can be found in CDP 300 here.

Sea time or “sea service” means service on board a ship relevant to the issue or revalidation of a certificate or other qualification. The best way to document sea time is through a Seafarer Log Book. If you have served onboard a vessel, you should have been issued “discharge papers” identifying your time served onboard. Discharge papers can be used to document sea time. 

Depending on the license you are seeking to obtain, some NEMO courses can be taken in lieu of sea time, reducing the overall amount of sea time needed to obtain your license. 

After completing your courses, you can apply for a Dominica license by visiting the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration’s website.

The Administration will assist you with review of your application and processing. If you meet at the requirements, you will be issued a Seafarer ID Book and relevant certificates. 

Great question! The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration recognizes many licenses from other administrations. If you would like a Dominica license, you can seek an “endorsement of a foreign STCW license” here. 

Before purchasing a course or pursuing a license, we highly recommend that you consult our “Career Tracks” to see if you indeed qualify for the license you seek to obtain. Not everyone can obtain a license by taking courses, you MUST have sufficient sea time as determined by the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration. If you have insufficient sea time to obtain your license and have already taken a course, the course is valid for 12 months to obtain the necessary sea time and apply for your license.

All regulations pertaining to Mariner certification can be found in CDP 300 here.

Sea time or “sea service” means service on board a ship relevant to the issue or revalidation of a
certificate or other qualification. The best way to document sea time is through a Seafarer Log Book. If you have served onboard a vessel, you should have been issued “discharge papers” identifying your time served onboard. Discharge papers can be used to document sea time. 

Depending on the license you are seeking to obtain, some NEMO courses can be taken in lieu of sea time, reducing the overall amount of sea time needed to obtain your license. 

After completing your courses, you can apply for a Dominica license by visiting the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration’s website.

The Administration will assist you with review of your application and processing. If you meet at the requirements, you will be issued a Seafarer ID Book and relevant certificates. 

Great question! The Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration recognizes many licenses from other administrations. If you would like a Dominica license, you can seek an “endorsement of a foreign STCW license” here. 

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