How to Read Your USCG License

Learn to read your USCG license, from reference numbers to capacities and limitations. MM-SEAS offers further guidance and support.

2 mins read・Jan 13, 2023
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Here is a guide for how to read your new merchant mariner credential.

First Page

The first page contains mostly your personal information. The part you are not used to seeing is your reference number (red oval in the image below) located near the top right corner of the page. This number is 7 digits long and is how the USCG identifies your records. It is also listed in the bottom left corner of each page in the credential.

Domestic Pages

These pages are split into 2 columns. One is titled CAPACITY, and the other is LIMITATIONS APPLYING (IF ANY). The Capacity column lists the endorsement that you are qualified to work under.

The Limitations column lists any restrictions with the endorsement and the specifics of the scope of the endorsement. In the example below the mariner is allowed to work as a Master on Vessels less than 200 GRT in Near Coastal waters.

The "Vessels Including Auxiliary Sail" means that this mariner is qualified for sailing vessels in addition to motor vessels. The Near Coastal phrase indicates mariner cannot operate the vessel on waters more than 200 NM offshore under this license; closer than 200 NM, Inland waters, or Great Lakes are all okay.

For the Third Mate Capacity, the limitations are different from the Master Capacity. The tonnage is Unlimited; sail vessels are not included; and the mariner can act as Third Mate on Ocean waters (i.e. greater than 200 NM offshore). In other words, this mariner has different limitations on vessel size and the operating route depending on whether they're acting as a Master or a Third Mate.

STCW Pages

These pages are split into 2 columns, just like the Domestic Pages. STCW endorsements are listed under the Capacity column.

Some examples are: Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting.

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.

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About the author

Nate Gilman
Nate Gilman

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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