As of January 24, 2014, the Coast Guard began issuing medical certificates to all mariners holding valid international endorsements, per the Final Rule titled, "Implementation of the Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW), as Amended, and Changes to National Endorsements."
Medical Certificate Qualification Criteria
- What is it?
- How does it
- What do I
do with it?
- Is there
- How Do
What is the Medical Certificate?
The medical certificate is a new document that serves as proof that a mariner meets the required medical and physical standards, per the publication of the Federal Register (FR). This FR incorporates the 2010 Amendments to the STCW Convention into the U.S. regulations. It also makes other necessary changes to our national regulations for the purposes of reorganization, clarification and needed updates.
The medical certificate is the Coast Guard's authorization that a mariner has met the following requirements:
- Have the physical capability to fulfill all the requirements of basic training as required by Section A-VI/1 of STCW;
- Demonstrate adequate hearing and speech to communicate effectively and detect any audible alarms;
- Have no medical condition, disorder or impairment that will prevent the effective and safe conduct of the seafarer’s routine and emergency duties;
- Are not suffering from any medical condition likely to be aggravated by service at sea or to render the seafarer unfit for service or to endanger the health and safety of other personnel on board;
- Are not taking medication that has side effects that will impair judgment, balance or any other requirements for effective and safe performance of routine and emergency duties on board.
How does it affect me?
Mariners holding STCW endorsements:
As of April 2, 2014, the Coast Guard completed issuing medical certificates to all mariners holding valid international endorsements. Because of the large number of certificates issued in a relatively short time, the expiration dates on these medical certificates will vary depending upon when the mariner’s MMC expires. A mariner may not serve under the authority of their STCW endorsement without holding a valid medical certificate. 46 CFR 15.401(c)(1).
Although First Class Pilots continue to be subject to the annual physical examination requirements of 46 CFR 11.709(b), a new medical certificate will only be issued every two years. Pilots will receive a medical certificate at their next annual medical review or when processing an application that requires a medical evaluation such as issuing an original, raise-in-grade or renewal MMC.
All Other Mariners, Including Those with National Endorsements:
As of January 24, 2014, the Coast Guard began issuing medical certificates to each qualified mariner when processing an application that requires a medical evaluation such as issuing an original, raise-in-grade or renewal MMC .
***Once issued, mariners are required to carry a valid medical certificate in order to sail under the authority of their MMC.***
What do you do with the medical certificate when you receive it?
- Use a blue or black ball point pen and sign your certificate as soon as you receive it.
- Do not separate the pages of your certificate.
- Note your expiration dates; they coincide with the type of service you are engaged in (STCW, National, or Pilot).
- We recommend that you keep your certificate in the plastic sleeve at the back of your MMC.
- If your certificate indicates that you have a medical waiver, you must comply with the requirements of the accompanying waiver letter.
- In addition to a valid medical certificate, the waiver letter must be carried with you when you sail under the authority of your MMC. As a result of the waiver, your certificate may also carry a limited expiration date of 1 or 2 years.
***The medical certificate folds in half, to be placed in the plastic sleeve located in the back of the MMC.
VERY IMPORTANT: It is not to be taped, glued, laminated, peeled, or detached.***
Impact on Employers
After March 24, 2017, a person may not employ or engage an individual on a vessel subject to STCW unless that individual maintains a current medical certificate.
After March 24, 2019, a person may not employ or engage any individual on a national voyage that is required to hold an MMC unless that individual maintains a current medical certificate.
Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) Applicability
The MLC entered into force on August 20, 2013. The MLC requires mariners serving on vessels to have a valid MLC medical certificate. The U.S. has not ratified the MLC, however the MLC contains a “no more favorable treatment clause” that requires ratifying governments to impose Convention requirements on all vessels when calling on their ports.
U.S. vessels that cannot demonstrate compliance with the MLC may be at risk of port state control actions, including detention, when operating in the port of a ratifying nation. The new medical certificates meet the medical certification requirements of the MLC.
In the event a vessel is not subject to STCW but is subject to MLC and is calling on a port in a country that has ratified the MLC, the Coast Guard will issue a medical certificate to qualified crewmembers upon proper application under reference 46 CFR Part 10, Subpart C.
***If a mariner's medical certificate expires during a voyage, it will remain valid until the next United States port of call, provided that the period after expiration does not exceed 90 days.***
Is there a cost for the medical certificate?
There is no cost for a medical certificate
Normal fees still apply to merchant mariner credential transactions consistent with 46 CFR Table 10.219(a). A medical certificate will not negate nor increase the normal MMC fees.
How do I apply for a medical certificate?
The CG-719K or CG-719K/E serves as the application form for a medical certificate. In order to renew the medical certificate prior to expiration, mariner's must submit an application. Applications should be submitted through an REC.
A CG-719B is not required and there are no fees associated with applying for a medical certificate.
Mariners subject to the Maritime Labour Convention, but that do not hold an STCW endorsement, must submit a CG-719K or 719K/E to an REC for issuance of a medical certificate. If the mariner has submitted a physical to the NMC within the last 12 months, provide a statement with that information as well as the mariner's full name (last name, middle name, first name), reference number, and current address.
Date of Examination
For current valid STCW holders, because of the large number of certificates issued in a relatively short time, the examination date and expiration dates on these medical certificates will vary depending upon when the mariner’s MMC expires.
For all other mariners, the Coast Guard considers the date of examination to be the date that it approves the issuance of a medical certificate. It will not coincide with the date the medical practitioner signed the form 719K or 719 K/E; nor will it necessarily coincide with the issuance date of the medical certificate or MMC.
Dates of Expiration
Each medical certificate will carry three expiration dates:
- Mariners who sail under the authority of an STCW endorsement:
The expiration date applicable to a mariner serving onboard vessels to which STCW applies will be for up to 2 years past the date of examination unless the mariner is under the age of 18, in which case the maximum period of validity will be 1 year.
- Mariners who sail as a pilot:
The expiration date applicable to a mariner serving under the authority of an endorsement as First-Class Pilot or acting as a pilot under another endorsement will be a maximum period of 2 years.
- Expiration for national mariners:
Medical certificates issued to national mariners will be issued for a maximum of 5 years.
What about Medical Waivers?
Existing Medical Waivers:
The Coast Guard may grant a waiver if an applicant for a MMC does not possess the vision, hearing, or general physical condition necessary and extenuating circumstances warrant special consideration.
***After January 24, 2014, medical waivers will no longer require a return signature. The limitations/restrictions that result in the issuance of a medical waiver will be listed on the mariner's medical certificate. The mariner will receive a medical waiver via mail outlining the terms and conditions required to meet the standards.***
Time-Restricted Medical Certificates:
Mariners may receive a time-restricted certificate. Those certificates will expire in either one or two years depending on the medical condition, condition status, and the need for periodic medical evaluations. This 1 or 2 year expiration date will apply to all medical certificate categories (i.e. FCP, STCW, and National Certificates). Applicants must comply with the accompanying waiver letter in order to renew their certificate.
More information regarding operational limitations and restrictions on medical certificates can be found at federalregister.gov.