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How to Get Your OUPV/Six-pack Captain's License

Obtain your OUPV Six-Pack License with steps like TWIC, sea days, and medical tests. Ideal for small tour boats and commercial fishing.

5 mins read・Jan 14, 2023
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The Operator of Uninspected Passenger (OUPV) Captain's License is one of the most popular licenses. This credential allows you to captain smaller vessels with up to six paying passengers—which is why the OUPV is often called the Six-Pack license.

Getting your OUPV is commonly used for commercial fishing trips, small tour boats, whale watching trips, and scuba diving.

In this article, we’ll explain the step-by-step process of getting your OUPV captain’s license.

Person piloting small fishing boat.

Obtaining a TWIC

Getting your Transportation Worker’s Identification Credential is typically the first step towards getting your captain’s license. The TWIC is required for all mariners getting their first United States Coast Guard-issued credentials.

Getting documented sea days

To qualify for your captain’s license, you’ll need a minimum of 360 sea days, and 90 of the days must be within the past 3 years. Your sea time can be on any size vessel. Where the sea days occurred determines which type of OUPV you qualify for.

To qualify for your Great Lakes license, 90 of the 360 sea days must be on Great Lakes, and for a Near Coastal OUPV, 90 days must be on Ocean, Near Coastal, or Great Lakes waters.

One sea day is defined as a 4+ hour period out on the water within a 24-hour period. The easiest and most common method of tracking your sea days is with the CG-719S form. You must complete a separate 719S Form for each vessel you served on. You can also submit a letter verifying your sea service. The sea service letter needs to include the same information as the 719S form.

Medical exam and drug test

You’ll need to pass a basic physical exam to get your OUPV.

Getting your USCG medical certificate is easy, and you can visit any physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner who is licensed in the U.S. or U.S. Territory.

  • Print off a CG-719K form from the USCG NMC Medical website.
  • Schedule your medical exam with a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner who is licensed in the US or US Territory.
  • Bring the printed form CG-719K with you to your medical exam appointment.
  • Have your medical provider complete and sign the form.
  • After your exam, email the completed CG-719K form directly to MEDAIP@uscg.mil.

For mariners who only hold domestic (National) endorsements, the medical certificate needs to be renewed every 5 years to keep their MMC valid.

Drug Test

To make sure your drug test is valid:

  • The test must be a DOT | USCG 5 Panel testing for Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates, Phencyclidine, and Amphetamines. The USCG won’t accept any other drug test.
  • Your test must be reviewed and signed by a Certified Medical Review Officer (MRO) from either MROCC or AAMRO. Note: Most doctors are not MROs. To verify your MRO is certified, look them up at the MRO Directory Search and the MRO Directory. You want to look at both websites for your MRO. If you find them you’re good to go. If not, your Drug Test will not be accepted by the USCG.
  • Make sure you get a negative result. The USCG will not accept a Negative Dilute or a Positive drug test.

You have 185 days from the day your negative result is signed by the certified MRO to submit your package to the USCG, but you should submit your results right away. Read more about how to schedule a USCG drug test.

First Aid and CPR

You’re required to have valid Adult CPR certification and basic first aid course completed within the past 12 months when you submit your application. The USCG will accept an American Red Cross First Aid and CPR card or a USCG-approved course.

These need to be completed in person. A card that says “Online” won’t be accepted.

Apply for a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC)

The next thing you need to do is apply for your MMC. Your MMC is the document that shows your credentials as a seafarer. This is where all of your license information and additional endorsements are held.

The CG-719B form is used to apply for your MMC. To get your MMC with the OUPV endorsement, you’ll need to provide proof of your sea service, and proof that you have a TWIC or applied for one. You can continue adding endorsements to your MMC, which will be valid until your MMC expires (unless otherwise noted).

Your MMC will be valid for 5 years from the issue date, and we recommend applying for its renewal 6-8 months before the expiration date.

Costs and fees

The costs for your MMC vary depending on the endorsement type and course fees. When you submit your application using MM-SEAS Perfect Application, the Pay.gov fees are included.

You can pay the fees on your own, by filling out the form on pay.gov. Once you’ve paid, make sure you copy your payment confirmation and tracking ID to submit with your MMC application.

What type of boat can you captain?

The OUPV is valid for uninspected vessels. The maximum vessel tonnage under an OUPV license is 100 GRT. This GRT limit doesn’t change. Uninspected vessels are also limited to six paying passengers.

If you wanted to have more passengers or a larger vessel, you’d need to upgrade to a Master’s License.

Inland, Great Lakes, Near Coastal

There are 3 types of OUPV licenses that qualify you to travel on different waterways.

An Inland OUPV is only valid on inland waterways: Inland Waters are defined as the navigable waters of the United States shoreward of the Boundary Lines, excluding the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes and Near Coastal licenses allow you to travel on the Great Lakes and Near Coastal waters (typically 100 miles offshore, in accordance with 46 CFR 11.467 and the service provided). No OUPV endorsement is valid for International voyages.

How long is a 6-Pack license good for?

Every USCG license is valid for 5 years. Once your license is close to expiration, you’ll need to submit a license renewal application. This includes submitting recent sea time, and an updated physical and drug test to the Coast Guard, paying the renewal fees, and submitting the application to the nearest USCG Regional Exam Center.

When you use MM-SEAS, we help make the perfect renewal application automatically for you, submit them to the USCG, and then deal with any issues that come up on your behalf.

USCG license renewal assistance interface.

We hope this made your life a little easier and if you have other questions the MM-SEAS team is always here to help!

MM-SEAS is free to use on your own and if you need some more personalized help you can upgrade to MM-SEAS Pro inside of the site.

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 USCG application fees and work with the USCG on your behalf to resolve any issues for a flat fee of $349 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 USCG 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.

Need to renew, upgrade or get your first USCG license? We're here to help.

No matter if it is your first MMC, your second Upgrade or your fifth Renewal USCG Licensing is easy with MM-SEAS.
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About the author

Nate Gilman
Nate Gilman
Captain
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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.

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