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What to Do When My USCG License is Expiring Soon

Facing an expiring USCG license? Find out how to renew it without hassle.

10 mins read・Jul 15, 2021
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I don’t need to tell you that renewing your USCG license can be a complicated process.  The nice part is that you have 1 year after your license has expired to renew it. The bad part is that you cannot work on your MMC if it is expired or your medical is out of date.

If your USCG License is going to expire soon you need to renew it!

To renew a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential there are ten main steps you need to follow!!!

  • Step 1: Gather Your Sea Service Documents From the Last Five  Years
  • Step 2: Do You Have to Take Training or Tests to Renew Your License?
  • Step 3: A Valid Medical Certificate
  • Step 4: A Photocopy of Your MMC and Attachments
  • Step 5: Hold a Valid TWIC or Have Recent Evidence of Applying
  • Step 5a: Renewal TWIC Exemption for Very Few Special Vessels
  • Step 6: A Negative Drug Test
  • Step 7: Pay Your Federal Fees
  • Step 8: Fill Out the CG-719B Application Form
  • Step 9: Submit your Application Packet to the Nearest Regional Exam Center (REC)
  • Step 10: We’re Here to Help!

Now that you have the general steps we can go into detail on each one. This quick guide takes you through the steps for renewing your license, but even with a handbook, license renewal can still be a frustrating experience.

This is why my team and I built MM-SEAS. MM-SEAS (www.mmseas.com) makes the complicated licensing process for Captains, Deckhands, Mates and Engineers simple with an easy to use software that handles the entire USCG licensing process for renewals and upgrades for you, stores your paperwork, and tracks your sea days.

Visit the MM-SEAS team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube for more tips on license renewals and upgrades. If you have questions about MM-SEAS, or the license renewal process, shoot me a note at nate@mariner-credentials.com.

Step 1: Gather Your Sea Service Documents From the Last Five  Years

It’s time to gather your Sea Service Letters. Go track down every CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service form), Sea Service Letter on Company Letterhead, Certificate of Discharge and Active Duty/ Reserve documents (USCG TOSS, Army TOSS, NOAA TOSS, USCG AOPS) of sea service you have earned.

Once you’ve gathered all of your sea service documents, Start by counting up your sea days in the previous five years of your renewal application date. This number is what will drive Step 2!

MM-SEAS User Tip: You can add all of your Sea Service documents into the software. The system will calculate everything for you and you will always have a safe place to store your documents

Step 2: Do You Have to Take Training or Tests to Renew Your License?

Do you have 360 sea days in the previous five years of your renewal application date? If you are going to have more than 360 days in the previous five years of your renewal application date, you do not need to take any tests for your domestic USCG License renewal.

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 only take an STCW Basic Training Revalidation course.

Do you have less than 360 sea days in the previous five years of your renewal application date? 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 test.

This will be mailed 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!

Now, what about training? 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.

Now that you know how many sea days you have for your renewal, you can decide your path forward and what your strategy will be if you need additional training to renew!

MM-SEAS User Tip: Add your training certificates to MM-SEAS. This gives you a secure location to store and organize all of your certificates. You will always have easy access to them from your mobile or desktop device.

Step 3: A Valid Medical Certificate

You need a valid medical certificate for the type of endorsement you are renewing. It must either be an unexpired medical certificate or submit a medical certificate application. Renewing your medical certificate is easy. Print off a CG-719K/E form from the USCG NMC Medical website (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/nmc/medical_certificate/).

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/E with you to your medical exam appointment and have your medical provider complete and sign the form.

After your exam, email the completed CG-719K/E form directly to MEDAIP@uscg.mil. Make sure to include your full name in the subject line of your email to medical. I usually use this format: Last, First, MMC Reference number. Mine would be: Gilman, Nate, 3473478.

Step 4: A Photocopy of Your MMC and Attachments

Photocopy all attachments on front and back of what you are renewing. This can be your uncancelled MMD, MMC, license, STCW endorsement, Certificate of Registry (COR), or Document of Continuity.

MM-SEAS User Tip: Add your MMC pages by taking a picture with your phone. This skips the photocopier and allows you to create perfect applications from your phone and desktop. MM-SEAS will store your documents, and automatically alert you as your expiration is coming up.  

Step 5: Hold a Valid TWIC or Have Recent Evidence of Applying

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issues Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).  Follow these three steps to renew your TWIC.

  • Step 1: Go to the TWIC for Industry website (https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic) and fill out the online application.
  • Step 2: Schedule an appointment on the TWIC for Industry website when your application is complete.
  • Step 3: Make sure you bring the right documents to your appointment! Use the Universal Enroll Documents Tool

(https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/workflows?servicecode=111111&service=required-doc) to use to verify which identification documentation you need to bring with you to your appointment!

MM-SEAS User Tip: When you get your new TWIC, add it to MM-SEAS so you will always know where they are and you will be reminded when it expires.

Step 5a: Renewal TWIC Exemption for Very Few Special Vessels

If you are only working on vessels without a security plan or that are not inspected by the USCG you can renew your MMC without renewing your TWIC as long as you are working on very specific vessels. This is not related to the type of endorsement held (officer or unlicensed) and instead dependent on the specific vessels a mariner is employed on. In addition, Law Enforcement Officers do not need a TWIC as long as they are only using their license for Law Enforcement.

This only applies to the following types of vessels:

  • Uninspected passenger vessels less than 100 GRT and you can never carry more than 6 passengers. (Example OUPV 6 PAX)
  • Uninspected passenger vessels greater than 100 GRT and you can never carry more than 12 passengers. (Example 200 GRT Master running a Yacht)
  • Vessels inspected under subchapter T that are not required to have a security plan
  • Towing vessels that are not involved in towing barges
  • Towing vessels that are only involved in fleeting, docking, or ship assist

To renew your USCG License without a TWIC, you will need a memo (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/NMC/pdfs/twic/TWIC_exemption_statement.pdf) as part of your renewal application which states why you qualify to not have a valid TWIC as well as providing the required additional information required to run a “name-based” background check on you before renewing your MMC. You typically need your full name, social security number, and date of birth. Your past TWIC picture will be used for your renewed License.

MM-SEAS User Tip: If you indicate that you do not need a TWIC to renew in the MM-SEAS renewal checklist, MM-SEAS will automatically generate the memo for you and submit it as part of your application. One less thing to worry about and you just saved $125.25 but lost out on TSA Precheck!

Step 6: A Negative Drug Test

For all renewal applications, you’ll need evidence of having passed a chemical test for dangerous drugs. You may also use a letter from a marine employer attesting to participation in a random drug testing program, or a letter attesting to pre-employment drug testing from your employer instead of a drug test. There are a few exceptions to this requirement including increasing in scope, asking for a duplicate, or applying for an STCW only endorsement. No matter what type of evidence you use, it must be dated within 185 of your application being submitted to the Regional Exam Center (REC).

There are three options to meet this requirement. You only need to fulfill one of the options.

  • Option One: Provide the results of a DOT 5 Panel testing for Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates, Phencyclidine, and Amphetamines. Make your life easier by bringing the CG-719P Periodic Drug Testing Form (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/NMC/pdfs/forms/CG_719P.pdf) with you to the clinic with a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO).
  • Option Two: Provide a letter on marine employer stationary or on command letterhead attesting to participation in random drug testing program. You must include the exact text from the Overview of Drug Test Requirements Option Two on the USCG website (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/nmc/drug_testing/) in your letter.  Drug testing letters from a Union will not be accepted by the NMC.
  • Option Three: Provide a letter on marine employer stationary attesting to pre-employment drug testing. You must include the exact text from the Overview of Drug Test Requirements Option Three on the USCG website (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/nmc/drug_testing/) in your letter.

MM-SEAS User Tip: Add your Drug Test Paperwork and MM-SEAS will automatically alert you as the 185 days are coming up.

Step 7: Pay Your Federal Fees

In this step you will calculate your renewal fees and pay for your renewal on Pay.gov. First, you need to use the table as set forth in 46 CFR 10.219 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/46/10.219) to calculate the appropriate fees for your license renewal.

Next, go to the USCG Merchant Mariner User Fee Payment page on Pay.gov (https://www.pay.gov/public/form/start/4795779/). Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Continue to Form” button. Fill out the form with your personal details. At the bottom of the first section, “Applicant/Mariner Details,” you will need to choose a Regional Exam Center (REC).

Choose the REC that is closest to your home address. The “User Fee Information” section will populate as you select your credential category, endorsement, and credential fees. When you are ready, click “Continue” and pay with a credit card. After payment, Pay.gov will automatically email you a receipt. Keep this email receipt and submit it with your renewal application as proof of payment.

MM-SEAS User Tip: You can add your receipt or have MM-SEAS fill out this form automatically and pay the fees on your behalf.

Step 8: Fill Out the CG-719B Application Form

You must ask for every single endorsement that you want to be renewed. If you do not put it in writing as part of your renewal application, the USCG commonly omits endorsements you previously held and are qualified to renew.

First, fill out the CG-719B form (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/NMC/pdfs/forms/CG_719B.pdf). Make sure you add all of your endorsements in the Description of Endorsements Desired Box in Section II.

The Description of Endorsements Desired Box on the form is small and you might not have room to fit all of your requested endorsements in the box. If you can’t fit everything in the box, attach a memo to the form with every single endorsement you want renewed and outlining why you are qualified for the renewal.

MM-SEAS User Tip: We use your profile to create perfect CG-719B forms and take care of everything behind the scenes for you. We promise that you will always keep all of the endorsements you want to renew.

Step 9: Submit your Application Packet to the Nearest Regional Exam Center (REC)

Submit your completed, signed application, with all of the above eight steps documents attached to the nearest USCG Regional Exam Center via email.

All of your documents must be submitted as PDF. You can use electronic signatures as long as they can be verified and your PDF document is not locked afterwards. Your packages of PDF documents cannot be larger than 30MB as the USCG email systems will not accept attachments larger than 30MB. You need to separate all of your documents into 8MB files to submit to the REC.

When you submit your application packet to the REC, make sure to name each attachment and the email subject line the same:  

  • Last, First, MMC Reference number, (Original/Renewal/Upgrade) package 1

As an example my first attachment and email subject line for an renewal would be:

  • Gilman, Nate, 3473478, Renewal Package 1

MM-SEAS User Tip: If you are using MM-SEAS, we make PERFECT Applications automatically for you, and can submit to the National Maritime Center (NMC) on your behalf. We put everything in the preferred order for the NMC evaluators to make it as easy as possible for your application to be quickly reviewed and approved.

Step 10: We’re Here to Help!

These nine steps may seem a little daunting and we agree. We built MM-SEAS to make the complicated licensing process for Captains, AB’s, Mates and Engineers simple. MM-SEAS is an easy to use software that does everything for you so you can stop worrying about your license expiring and have more time to focus on the things you enjoy in life.

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.

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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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