You've done all of the hard work! Jumped through all of the hoops to get your first license and have been working on vessels for the last few years. You look down at your license and notice your expiration date is coming up! Now what?
You've scheduled your new drug test, you're working on deciding whether to renew your TWIC card and your renewal USCG physical examination is done.
With everything else figured out for your renewal, you need to determine if you need to take any tests or training as you renew your merchant mariner credential.
The short answer is maybe, but it won't be as painful as you think. The next few questions will help you with your exact situation as there are over 1000 USCG licenses which all have different renewal requirement.
If you only hold an OUPV, an Assistance Towing Endorsement or a 25 GRT, 50 GRT or 100 GRT Captain's license then your Coast Guard license renewal is pretty straight forward.
You have two options:
If you hold any thing more than the licenses above your path for renewal is a little more complicated and depends on two questions. One, which USCG licenses you hold and two how many sea days you have accumulated in the past five years that count for qualifying service towards your renewal. Your answers to those two questions will let you know if you need to take tests and/or training.
No matter which Coast Guard license you hold, MM-SEAS USCG Licensing Software calculates your renewal sea service for you with built-in reminders and simple to use renewal checklists that will make your license renewal straight forward.
As you are nearing renewal time you want to know if you will need to take the renewal examinations or you have enough sea time to skip the take home open book exercise for renewal.
If you have been on a vessel less than 200 GRT you can use MM-SEAS Sea Day Tracker to log all of your sea time and then create perfect CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service form) with the click of a few buttons.
If you already have signed Sea Service Letters on Company Letterhead, Certificate of Discharges, CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service form) and Active Duty/ Reserve documents (USCG TOSS, Army TOSS, NOAA TOSS, USCG AOPS) from the past five years add them to your MM-SEAS account.
MM-SEAS USCG Licensing Software will calculate your renewal days in the last five years and help you determine if you have to take any training or renewal examinations.
If you are going to have less than 360 days of service during the past five years starting from your renewal application date, you will need to pass an open book take home exam which will be emailed to you after your uscg license renewal application is approved for all domestic licenses that you hold or you can take a Coast Guard Approved renewal course for each domestic endorsement you hold.
As an example, if you currently possess a Master 200 GRT Near Coastal, an Able Seaman Special and Lifeboatman you will take an Open Book exam for each of them. This is a renewal open book exercise which is not made to trick you. They are open book and you did get your original domestic license with closed book exams like every other license holder so the open book exam should be a breeze! If you do decide that the Open Book Exercise is too much you can take a United States Coast Guard Renewal course which is valid for one year after you complete the course.
If you are going to have more than 360 days in the previous five years of your renewal application date, you will not need to take any exams for your USCG License renewal! You have met the One Year Sea Time Requirement from the USCG for renewal and you are good to go for your domestic licenses.
If you also hold STCW international endorsements such as Basic Training, Officer in charge of a navigational watch (OICNW), and Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC) you will need to only take an STCW Basic Training Revalidation course!
If you are going to have less than 360 days in the previous five years of your renewal application date, you will need to take an open book take home exam which will be emailed to you after your application is approved for all domestic licenses that you hold.
If you currently possess a Master 200 GRT Near Coastal, an Able Seaman Special and Lifeboatman you will take an Open Book test for each of them. Remember, you have been sailing and got your original domestic license so the open book test should be a breeze!
If you also hold STCW endorsements such as Basic Training, Officer in charge of a navigational watch (OICNW), and Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC) you will need to take both an STCW Basic Training Refresher course and a Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC) Refresher course.
If you choose to take the USCG tests to from the Coast Guard here are the three keys to success.
360 sea days in the last five years from the date you submit your Merchant Mariner Credential renewal application.
You are give three attempts to pass the renewal exams and you have 90 days to complete all of your renewal examinations which include any retests you may need to take.
If you make some mistakes the first time you have two more attempts. Don't worry. You got this!
We do not recommend that you study for your Coast Guard Renewal open book exercise. Instead we recommend that you think about what will be on the tests and be ready to use Google as well as any books you have left over from your original course. Rules of the Road will commonly be on the open book test as well as deck general. Think of this more as a refresher of your knowledge than the tests you took to obtain your first license at one of the regional examination centers or with the training school.
MM-SEAS will help you gather all of your sea time, count it all up automatically and keep you informed of what you need to do for your USCG license renewal. If you choose to have MM-SEAS USCG licensing software submit your application to the USCG for you, our team of USCG licensing specialist will take care of all of the details behind the scenes so all you need to do is click submit inside of the website and then wait for your renewal exam to be emailed to you.
If you want to make everything for your USCG License simple click on the sign up button on the top right and let MM-SEAS USCG licensing software make renewing your USCG License simple and easy for you!
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.