Frequently Asked Questions
Military or Foreign Sea Service
What is creditable?
Experience and service on military or foreign vessels is creditable towards eligibility for a U.S. Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC). Such service is subject to evaluation by the Coast Guard to determine that it is a fair and reasonable equivalent to service acquired on merchant vessels of the United States, with respect to grade, tonnage, horsepower, waters, and operating conditions.
How do I document military sea service?
Satisfactory evidence of U.S. military service means a Transcript of Military Sea Service or certified History of Assignments (a DD-214 is not sufficient evidence of sea service). If you do not already have proof of military sea service, you must fill out a Request Pertaining to Military Records (Form SF-180) to obtain your official Transcript of Military Sea Service. Send the request with your name and a return address, printed legibly, to the address of the record custodian for your branch of service noted on the back of the request form. In addition, if you are requesting records from before 1973 you should include your service number; after 1973 include your social security number.
How do I document foreign sea service?
Satisfactory evidence of foreign sea service must meet the requirements for proof of service for qualified ratings noted in section I.C. above. If the documentation is not in English, then a certified translation should be included.
Age/Citizenship/Social Security Number Requirements
How old must I be?
You must be at least 16 years of age before obtaining a Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC). If you are between the age of 16 and 18, then you must present a notarized statement of consent from a parent or legal guardian providing written permission for you to go to sea.
How do I provide proof of age and citizenship?
When submitting your application package for evaluation, you must include a copy of the proof of citizenship. You must present the original evidence of citizenship prior to issuance of an MMC. If your name on your proof of citizenship does not match the name you are now using, then proof of legal name change is required. Acceptable proof of name change may include original court documentation, original marriage/dissolution of marriage certificate, or original school records. Acceptable proof of citizenship and birth date is any one of the following:
Birth Certificate or Birth Registration
Certificate of Naturalization (If you are a naturalized citizen, then you must submit this certificate)
Baptismal Certificate or Parish Record recorded within one year after birth
Statement of a practicing physician certifying attendance at the birth and who possesses a record showing the date and location at which it occurred
State Department Passport
A Merchant Mariner’s Credential issued by the Coast Guard which shows the holder as a United States citizen
Delayed Certificate of Birth issued under a state seal
Certificate of Citizenship issued by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
What if I am not a U.S. citizen?
You may still be considered for an MMC, but you must provide documentation that you are a permanent resident in possession of an Alien Registration Card issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, you must also submit proof of foreign citizenship. Documentation that is not in English must include a notarized translation.
What is the Social Security Number (SSN) requirement?
If you are applying for an original MMC, then you must establish proof of having a Social Security Number (SSN). Acceptable proof is a Social Security Card issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When submitting your application package for evaluation, you must submit a copy of your card. You must present the original card prior to issuance of an MMC. Your card must bear the same name appearing on your proof of citizenship and your application. If you have lost your card, you must apply for a duplicate card from the SSA. If you present a duplicate card or letter from the SSA, it must have your SSN on it. Plastic, metal or laminated cards are not acceptable.
Physical Requirements and Drug Requirements
edical Downloads and Forms:
Physical Exam Report (submit pages 3-4): CG-719K
Certification of Fitness for Entry Level Ratings: CG-719K/E
Medical and Physical Evaluation Guidelines: Medical NVIC USCG 2006-25080
Medical Waiver Submission Form: MLD-FM-REC-171
Article Regarding the Importance of Physical Evaluations: NVIC Outreach Article March 2007
When is a physical examination required?
The table below lists when a physical examination is required for renewal:
Credential to be renewed: Physical examination required?
Certificate of Registry1: No1
Merchant Mariner’s Credential (with qualified rating other than Lifeboatman): Yes
Merchant Mariner’s Credential (with Lifeboatman or without qualified rating)1: No1
1. If you are renewing a Certificate of Registry, Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC) with Lifeboatman, or MMC without qualified ratings and you plan to serve on a seagoing vessel beyond the boundary lines, then you need to provide proof of physical agility, strength, and flexibility. For more information, see Section D below.
What is required for a physical examination?
If you are renewing a License or a Merchant Mariner’s Credential with a qualified rating other than Lifeboatman (LBMAN), then you must submit an original physical examination report ( Form CG-719K ) completed by a U.S. Licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner within one year of the application. This report must certify that you are in good health and have no physical impairment or medical condition which would render you incompetent to perform the ordinary duties allowed by your credential. Please ensure this form has been completed entirely. Delays in approving applications are frequently the result of incomplete physical examination reports. For example, if you are taking any medications prescribed by your physician, then your physician must have all of the medications disclosed in block 15 of the form with a statement regarding whether or not you experience any side effects from them. If side effects are experienced, they must be listed. If no side effects are experienced, then a statement to that effect must be included.
What are some examples of the physical examination standards?
Renewal of a License as deck officer or Merchant Mariner’s Credential as Able Seaman (AB) or Tankerman (TKMAN): You must have uncorrected vision of at least 20/800 in each eye, correctable to at least 20/40 in each eye. You must also possess normal color vision as determined by one of the methods listed on the CG-719K Physical Examination Report.
Renewal of a License as engineer officer or Merchant Mariner’s Credential as Qualified Member of the Engine Department (QMED): You must have uncorrected vision of at least 20/800 in each eye, correctable to at least 20/50 in each eye. However, you only need to possess the color sensing ability to distinguish between red, green, blue and yellow.
For renewal of all licenses or Merchant Mariner’s Credentials with qualified ratings other than Lifeboatman, you must not have blood pressure higher than 160/100 if under the age 50 or higher than 175/100 if over 50, regardless of treatment or medication.
If you want more information on the Coast Guard’s physical examination standards, connect here to NVIC 2-98
What are the physical agility, strength, and flexibility standards?
If you are renewing a Certificate of Registry, Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC) with Lifeboatman, or MMC without qualified ratings, you are not required to submit a physical examination report (Form CG-719K). However, if you plan to work on seagoing vessels beyond the boundary lines, you will have to submit documentation from a U.S. licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner certifying that you have the agility, strength, and flexibility to:
Climb steep or vertical ladders,
Maintain balance on a moving deck,
Pull heavy fire hoses up to 400 feet, and have the ability to lift fully charged fire hoses,
Rapidly don an exposure suit,
Step over door sills of 24 inches in height, and
Open or close watertight doors that may weigh up to 56 pounds.
What if I don’t meet the physical requirements?
Not meeting the vision, hearing, or general physical condition required for renewal does not automatically cause you to be denied. The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard may consider you for a physical waiver if extenuating circumstances warrant special consideration. The REC reviewing your application may request that your physician provide additional information to support a waiver in such cases.
What are “dangerous drugs?”
“Dangerous drugs” – under the Department of Transportation rules are: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines. Proof that you are free of dangerous drugs is required with your renewal application. Only a screening that tests for the five dangerous drugs is accepted. All tests must be conducted in accordance with “Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug Testing Programs” in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 40 and done by laboratories certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. All qualifying random and periodic drug-testing programs must also meet these requirements.
A listing of approved laboratories is also available online at www.drugfreeworkplace.gov. When the main page comes on screen click on “Drug Testing” and then click on “Certified Labs”. By contacting one of these labs they will direct you to the collection facility that is nearest to your location
How do I prove that I am free of dangerous drugs?
Acceptable proof of meeting the drug testing requirements can be any one of the following:
A completed drug test form (report or letter) signed by the Medical Review Officer (MRO) or authorized representative of a consortium showing that you passed a chemical test for dangerous drugs conducted in accordance with 49 CFR 40 within the previous six months with no subsequent positive drug tests during the remainder of the six-month period.
A letter on company or consortium stationary signed by the authorized official that administers the drug testing program stating that you passed a pre-employment or periodic test for dangerous drugs within the previous six months with no subsequent positive drug tests during the remainder of the six month period.
A letter on company or consortium stationary signed by the authorized official that administers the drug testing program stating that you have been subject to random drug testing required by 46 CFR 16.230 for at least 60 days during the previous 185 days and did not fail or refuse to participate in any required chemical test.
If you are an active duty U.S. military member, a letter from your command stating that you have been subject to random drug testing for the past six months and have not failed or refused to participate in any required test. Random testing letters are not accepted for reserve military members since they are only subject to testing during monthly drills. However, if you are a reserve or active duty member and passed a required chemical test for dangerous drugs within the previous six months, then you may submit a letter from your command stating this.