Which is better? A Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) or a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) License?

MMC and USCG License are the same but used differently in conversation depending on who you are talking to.

2 mins read・Jan 15, 2023
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A Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) and a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) License are the same thing!  Technically the phrase USCG License is considered a legacy term, and we still use it within the maritime community.

So what is a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC)?

An MMC is issued by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in accordance with Federal regulations. Each MMC describes the type(s) of vessel(s), tonnage(s), horsepower(s), and waters (routes) for which the mariner is qualified. For service in international waters, the MMC would include appropriate endorsements according to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Do I need an USCG License or MMC to work on boats?

It depends, if you are working on a United States (U.S.) merchant vessel that is greater than 100 Gross Register Tons (GRT) you are required to have a valid U.S. MMC. This means everyone from the Steward to the Captain has to have a valid MMC on them at all times. The only exception to this 100 GRT rule is operators of uninspected passenger vessels. If you are working on vessels less than 100 GRT there are certain positions which are required to have a valid MMC which are clearly laid out in the vessels safe manning document. It's typical for only the Captain on a vessel less that 100 GRT to hold a USCG License while the crew does not hold a valid MMC.

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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