The current advice from the USCG National Maritime Center is to allow yourself at least 90 days after your application is submitted to get your USCG license back. We're seeing the entire process taking about 5-7 weeks for MM-SEAS USCG licensing software customers who are fully qualified to receive their new MMC when we submit a perfect application for them that is flawless with everything in the order the REC and National Maritime Center evaluators prefer. We think that five weeks is way better than a few months.
If you're using MM-SEAS, there are six main steps that your USCG Captain's license application will go through before it's in you hands. After your application is submitted to the Coast Guard Regional Exam Center the team there will look for a complete application that meets the basic Coast Guard requirements. Then your application is transferred to the USCG National Maritime Center in Martinsburg, WV where it will wait in line at the Safety Security Evaluation Branch (SSEB) to have a quick background investigation run on you are qualified to work on vessels by meeting the safety and suitability standards outlined in the 46 CFR 10.211 & 46 CFR 10.213.
After your application has passed SSEB, it will wait in line for the next Professional Qualification Evaluation Branch (PQEB/ PQS) evaluator to look over your application. The PQS review will make sure you are qualified for the endorsements you requested and they will look for the required sea service, training and supporting documentation if you need it for the license you're applying for. When the PQEB evaluator has approved your application it is ready to be printed and mailed!
The key to getting an application through the process fast is having everything from sea service on vessels, to the application form filled out perfectly so that all each USCG National Maritime Center evaluator just has to spend time ensuring you are qualified and meet all the requirements instead of getting overwhelmed with confusing paperwork.
Our MM-SEAS USCG Licensing Specialists review your entire application to make sure your application doesn't get slowed down by an additional information letter when you make a mistake completing a form, forgot a certificate or like most people you forgot to sign your sea service for a vessel you own in both locations. Our team makes sure that everything is correct so that it will pass the USCG National Maritime Center reviews with flying colors.
There are 17 Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers and two supporting Monitoring Units. You can submit your application to any Regional Exam Centers via email. For license and endorsement applications their job is to pre-screen applications for everything the coast guard requires including drug test documentation, a complete CG-719B application and either a TWIC Card or TWIC Exemption Memo or a TWIC Card Receipt.
The staff at the Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers are incredible and will go out of their way to help you out when you have questions. You will typically need to email them directly to schedule an appoint to visit them in person and they are sometimes very overloaded with applications due to their geographic locations which make some more popular than others.
When your application has been reviewed by the REC, the staff will contact you if there are any issues. If there are no issues they will enter your information into the Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Licensing Database (MMLD) and you will receive an email that will give you both your MMC Reference number and your Application ID for this application. That email is your confirmation that they have received your application and forwarded it for SSEB review. The email from MMLD will typically come anytime between 5 - 14 business days after you email your application to the REC.
The Safety Security Evaluation Branch (SSEB) at the USCG National Maritime Center is typically a quick process. On your CG-719B form you indicated if you had ever had a prior conviction of any kind. The SSEB evaluators use this information and compare it to the background investigation they run for everyone.
There is a large line due to staffing shortages within the SSEB at the moment. Do not be surprised if your application is stuck at SSEB for over 25 business days! When you have passed SSEB you get in line for the Professional Qualification Evaluation Branch (PQEB/ PQS).
Evaluators at the Professional Qualification Evaluation Branch (PQEB/ PQS) look at what endorsement you are hoping on obtaining. The Professional Evaluators are the ones who make sure you have the required amount of sea time on the right vessel types, supporting documentation and check that the correct USCG approved certificate is used for any courses you may have had to take to renew, upgrade or get your first national officer endorsements as well as the STCW endorsements needed for international voyages.
The PQS evaluators are making sure that you meet the professional qualifications for license you've applied for. No matter if it's an OUPV license on inland waters, a 100 GRT Master on Near Coastal Waters with a sailing endorsement or a DDE 1000HP license they will review your package to make sure you have the required sea service, training and supporting documentation if you need it for the endorsements you requested. When the PQEB evaluator has approved your application it is ready to be printed and mailed!
The credential production team at the USCG National Maritime Center prints and mails your Captain's license for you. They use USPS to mail your MMC to you so make sure that when your submitting your complete application that a valid USPS address is listed on your CG-719B.
All licenses are good for five years, it doesn't matter if you hold an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV license /”6-Pack”), a 100 ton master license for auxiliary sail vessels on the great lakes and inland waters or a Chief Engineers license.
If you're applying for renewal, you should start the process at least 3 months before the expiration date to make sure your application is approved and renewed in time for you to continue working on your captain's license.
We strongly recommend that you apply for renewal 8 months before the expiration date so that you can always operate within the law. This is especially true if you're a captain, deckhand or engineer that depends on the license for work. Applying for a renewal early gives you time to handle any issues that may pop up while they make sure you are fully qualified and it ensures that your MMC is valid.The best part is that they won't change your original expiration or renewal dates when you apply early
After your expiration date on your masters license has passed, your MMC enters a one year grace period where you can renew your license by completing the renewal steps instead having to retake the courses and exams you originally took to get your license.
If you are using MM-SEAS you will automatically get an email the second our system is notified of an issue with your application. An MM-SEAS licensing specialist will work with the NMC for you and then reach out directly to you with a plan to solve the issue.
Some common mistakes we see with applications include:
It depends on how fast you submit your response back to MMC-Awaiting-Info@uscg.mil
We're hearing that each issue typically adding about 3 more weeks to the process for the NMC for non MM-SEAS users.
If you are using MM-SEAS for your application you don't need to work about this.
If you are doing it on your own, you can check the status of your MMC application here.
Once you enter your application reference number and your last name, you’ll see the information previously submitted with your application package, and the current status of your application process. The site will list any changes to your credentials that have been issued within the past 120 days.
For national officer endorsements especially for original license issuances such as an OUPV license, a captain's license for auxiliary sail vessels on the great lakes or even just a near coastal waters 25 ton master with a towing endorsement the main issues seem to all come from mistakes on the CG-719S Small Vessel Sea Service form.
When you are working on your captain's license you need to make sure that you indicate the waters on the CG-719S Small Vessel Sea Service form on the bottom right of page 1 correctly such as near coastal, great lakes and inland waters. You also want to make sure the tonnage for your vessels is listed correctly. If you've been working on a commercial vessel the tonnage is typically very clear but if you've operating on a vessel you own or friends recreational vessels we recommend you use MM-SEAS and use our CG-719S Small Vessel Sea Service form generator where it will calculate the right tonnage for you using the length, width and depth of the vessels.
Mistakes are also common with USCG Approved Course certificates. A course that can be used for anything on domestic waters such as 100 ton Captain's license courses or a course to add a sailing endorsement to your mate or master license are only good for one year. After you pass a course you need to make sure you submit it to with a complete application package to obtain your license.
You can totally do that but know that if you want to modify (such as take another course) or add anything to the USCG Merchant Mariner Credential application after it has been submitted adds at least 3 - 4 weeks.
The best way to get your new license in you hand the fastest is to have a perfect application that is flawless with everything in the order the REC and NMC prefers. Which is exactly what MM-SEAS does! MM-SEAS software looks for all of the common errors such as missing both signatures and providing proper proof of ownership on the CG-719S and making sure you provide verification of identity for you original application.
Absolutely! We guarantee that our calculations are 100% accurate on your MMC application, or your application is on us and we buy you a beer next time we see you. MM-SEAS licensing specialists double checks everything on your application to make sure you have everything you need to pass, pay the federal fees for you (we handle it for you as it's the second most common mistake made by people doing applications on their own) and then we create a perfect complete MMC application in the order the REC and NMC prefers to review it so that we make their lives easier as well.
After submission, we are also constantly keeping tabs on your application as it goes through the process and reach out on your behalf to find out why the application is being slower than our other ones in the system if it happens.
I hold a Near Coastal Master License with an Auxiliary Sailing Endorsement and I still ask questions all the time. We get it and it doesn't matter if you've been a Captain for 40 years or this is your first, we believe that by using MM-SEAS it will be the most stress free licensing experience you will ever have.
If you have any questions the MM-SEAS team is always here to help!
No matter what, when you are ready to submit your application, you can choose to have the MM-SEAS staff create a perfect application, handle the federal application fees and work on your behalf to resolve any issues for a flat fee of $299 or you can choose to submit on your own.
Pro MM-SEAS members get access to unlimited live 1 on 1 calls with one of our MM-SEAS Licensing Specialists. We've found that answering questions live with screen sharing in a video call makes both of our lives easier. Pro MM-SEAS members can access these features inside of MM-SEAS under License Guidance.
Nate has over 15 years of professional maritime experience and has hawsepiped his way to a 3rd Mate Unlimited Endorsement with full STCW compliance. He is proud veteran of the NOAA Commissioned Corps.