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Seafarers Certification

The UK Flag State issues seafarer certificates to ensure that UK flagged vessels are appropriately certificated and safely manned.

We provide examination and certification services, alongside further support for UK seafarers by:

  • Setting training and certification policy and standards
  • Carrying out college course approvals
  • Undertaking examination moderation
  • Providing marking services of borderline examination papers

Some 36,000 seafarers hold UK Certificates of Competency (CoC) or Flag State Endorsements (FSE) (previously called Certificates of Equivalent Competency (CEC)).

In 2021 to 2022 we issued 4,059 Notices of Eligibility, and 13,634 CoCs and CECs. We also issued 883 Boatmasters’ Licences for commercial operations on inland waterways.

  • Frequently asked questions

  • Ensure that you have included all necessary information and supporting documents with your application. The most common reason for a delayed application is that there are missing required certificates or sea service evidence.

    In cases where seafarers are required to return to sea, we can expedite an application at your employer’s request. Your employer will need to provide us with your details and the date for which you are required to return to sea. After receiving all the details, we can look to fast-track the application if possible.

    For those that have submitted an application with physical copies, we can return your original documents once we have received your application if you require them back in order to work. We will take attested copies of the documents and process your application.

    The best way to request documents to be returned is by emailing us once we have your application. You will need to confirm whether you want your documents returned by regular mail, which is free of charge, or by courier service which can be tracked. Using this service incurs a fee depending on the address that they are being sent to.

    First-time applicants, who have not previously gained Maritime and Coastguard Agency certification, must submit their application in physical copy. The details for this can be found on the relevant application form. For these we cannot accept applications or documents via email.

    For those applying for revalidation or for subsequent UK certification, you can apply via email to your relevant processing team. The application form will detail the required supporting evidence that must be provided. We may select your application for additional screening, and as part of this you may need to submit your documents in physical copy.

    Please see section 5 of MIN 643 (M) for the acceptance of various courses. It may be the case that your updated training courses have not been completed under the authority of a country that we can accept them from.

    It has been a requirement since 1 January 2017 that to work at sea, gain a licence and revalidate or upgrade a licence, you must have completed the updated training relevant to the licence you hold.

    The advanced training does not automatically include the basic training, therefore the two basic training courses must be updated every five years regardless of the advanced courses.

    For almost all applications we require two forms of evidence supporting the sea service declared.

    Exceptions include yacht applications where the sea service has been verified by the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) or Nautilus International.  

    Certificates of Competency (CoC) revalidation applications only require one form of evidence supporting the declared sea service.

    Find information on MCA approved doctors here.