USCG License Renewal Grace Period

Your MMC has a 6 year grace period for renewal. Miss it and you'll retake exams. Use MM-SEAS to track and submit on time.

3 mins read・Apr 26, 2024
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A Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) is valid for 5 years from the date of issuance. After the expiration date, the MMC enters a 6 year grace period where the mariner can renew their license rather than apply for a new license.

What is the grace period?

An expired MMC may be renewed during an administrative grace period of up to 6 years beyond its expiration date. A credential may be renewed at any time during its validity and for 6 years after expiration. A mariner may not serve under the authority of an MMC past its expiration date.

For a credential to be re-issued by the Coast Guard after the 6 year grace period, the applicant must meet all the requirements of obtaining an original MMC.

If an applicant's credential expires during a time of military service and there’s no reasonable opportunity for renewal, including by mail, the grace period may be extended.

The 6 year grace period and any extensions don’t affect the expiration date of the credential. A license, MMD, COR, STCW endorsement, MMC, and any endorsements, are not valid for use after the expiration date. Once your license expires, you can’t continue working under its credentials.

What happens when the grace period ends?

If you apply for re-issuance of an endorsement as deck officer, engineer officer, or qualified rating more than 6 years after its expiration, you can demonstrate continued professional knowledge by completing a USCG-approved course, or pass the complete examination for original issue of the endorsement.

If you fail to renew your license within the 6 years after it has expired, you’ll need to retake the captain’s license exam.

If you’re applying for re-issuance of an endorsement as master or mate of towing vessels after the grace period, you must complete the practical demonstration of maneuvering and handling a towing vessel specified in 46 CFR 10.227.

If you’re applying for re-issuance of an endorsement as any tankerman rating after the grace period of the previous endorsement you must meet the requirements for an original endorsement (46 CFR 13.117).

To avoid any issues and interruptions at work, the best thing to do is start the renewal process early. We recommend applying for your MMC renewal 6-8 months prior to the expiration date.

We've built MM-SEAS software to help you keep track of your important documents and get your renewal finished and submitted on time.

Document of Continuity

Before, or during, the 6 year grace period, mariners can apply for a Document of Continuity. If approved, the endorsements are placed in continuity and will be able to be renewed, rather than reinstated.

Applicants for renewal of national endorsements, who are unwilling or otherwise unable to meet the requirements of renewal, including but not limited to the medical and physical standards in 46 CFR Part 10, suitability standards of 46 CFR 10.211, drug tests, professional requirements, and TWIC, may apply for a Document of Continuity issued by the Coast Guard.

Documents of Continuity don’t expire and are issued solely to maintain an individual's eligibility for renewal. A Document of Continuity doesn’t entitle an individual to work or serve under the authority of their MMC.

Applications for a Document of Continuity must include the following:

  1. The endorsements that will be placed into continuity.
  2. An application including a signed statement from the applicant attesting to an awareness of the limited purpose of the Document of Continuity, his or her inability to serve, and the requirements to obtain an MMC.

No credentials can be converted into a Document of Continuity after the administrative grace period has ended.

MM-SEAS will automatically help you put your MMC into Continuity when you are 5 and a half years into your grace period.

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

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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