Updated: Nov 9, 2018
Interested in applying for your first Merchant Mariner Credential?
"Applying for a Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential is a confusing process and mariners often run into preventable roadblocks. In this post, I will outline each step needed to successfully submit your application. This is a long post, but keep reading if you're committed to applying for your license! I will guide you through the process of submitting your paperwork to the Coast Guard in order to take the next step to becoming a credentialed mariner. Please send me a message if you are interested in booking licensing consulting services. I offer a discounted fee for original license applicants. 1) Download a copy of form CG-719B. Complete SECTION I - fill out your personal information. The form can be filled out on your computer or print and complete by hand. 2) Continue to SECTION II.Here, you will need to determine what credential you qualify for. The Coast Guard National Maritime Center expects that you will indicate what you are most qualified for. If you are unsure, shoot high! After your application is submitted, the NMC (National Maritime Center) will review your details to determine if you are indeed qualified. This might slow the process down, but you don't want to ask for a license or qualification smaller than you deserve - the NMC will not necessarily notice. Use the checklists located at this link to determine what level of licensing you are qualified to apply for. If this is your first credential application, check the boxes for "original." Then, fill in the description of the endorsement you are requesting based on what you find out from reading the checklists. 3) SECTION III.Now, you need to take a step back to apply for a separate credential that is required BEFORE you can submit your application. This is the Transportation Worker's Identification Credential, or TWIC card. Visit this website to complete an application for this national ID card. Don't delay completing this step, as can be tedious. You will need to visit a TWIC application center to be photographed, fingerprinted, and pay a fee of $125 (fee subject to change). When you send in your application form, include a copy of the receipt from your visit to the TWIC application center. Your card will be mailed to your home address.Read this website for more background on what a TWIC card is. You will also need to answer yes or no questions about your driving history, convictions and drug use in Section III. 4) SECTION IV.This section is important to read carefully! You are providing your signature confirming that all of your application information is true. In this section, you are also able to provide contact information for a "Third Party." This is someone who can communicate with the NMC about your application if you are at sea. Ask a colleague if they will be your "third party." This is also a service provided by Bluewater Maritime Consulting. Now, you have completed your application but it is not ready to send in yet! There are a few more steps: 5) Pay your USER FEES. Visit pay.gov Go to "Common Payments" on the right side of the page, and choose USCG Merchant Mariner User Fee Payment (or follow this link)
Expect to pay $100 for the application evaluation
$140 for the examination fee
$45 to be issued your credential
Fees could be up to $285. However, at the time of application you can choose to only pay for the application evaluation (you can pay to test and have your credential issued later). Once you have paid, print out your receipt and include a copy with your application. 6) COMPLETE THE PHYSICALDownload and print the form for the physical online here: CG-719K. You will need to make an appointment with a doctor who's office is capable of performing a vision and hearing test. This can be hard to find. Many mariners have their physical completed at an office that provides Worker's Compensation evaluations, such as Concentra, since they are likely to have these testing abilities. Before leaving the office, double check that the doctor has signed your form and provided their office's contact information on the form itself. Be sure no boxes have been left unchecked - the NMC evaluators will hold up your application because they will need to see this form filled out correctly. 7) DRUG SCREENIf you are enrolled in a random drug testing program as part of your job working on a boat, ask your employer for a letter that says you are enrolled in their program. Form CG-719P can also be brought to a lab such as Concentra or Labcorp so that you can submit a sample for testing. Form CG-719P also explains the language needed for a letter from an employer (show this to your employer if they do not have a form letter that they typically use). 8) SEA SERVICEInclude every letter you have been issued indicating the number of days you have worked on a boat. Proof-read these letters for accuracy before submitting. The total number of days will need to be large enough to satisfy the credential you are applying for. If you have spent time on a private vessel, use Form CG-719S to log days at sea. This will need to be signed by the owner of the vessel. 9) STCW ASSESSMENTSIf you are applying for an international rating, you will need to complete the STCW assessments for RFPNW (watch standing) and PSC (lifeboats). Each of these forms needs to be filled out by a mate or captain on a boat you have been working on. Many mariners already have this filled out in anticipation of submitting an application for a credential. If you have not completed the assessments yet, you will have to contact a previous employer to see if they can assess you, or have them completed at your current position. Check out this post to learn more about Lifeboatman/PSC and this post to learn more about RFPNW. 10) FIRST AID AND CPRDepending on the credential you are applying for, you will need to include current First Aid and CPR certificates. Original Master's Licenses require First Aid/CPR depending on the operating area. AB Ratings do not require First Aid/CPR. You are ready to your application! If you have questions or comments about this guide, or would like to schedule a review of your application with me before submitting, email me or visit my contact page."