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The Professional Qualification Evaluation Branch (PQEB) determines an applicant’s professional qualifications such as sea service, training, and experience. Once this evaluation is complete and all requirements are met, the mariner may either proceed to take tests or be issued a Merchant Mariner Credential.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Evaluating Stage for Professional Qualifications

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Click on the tabs below for more information.

  • Sea Service
  • Military Service
  • Assessments
  • Courses
  • Approvals to Test

Military Service Requirements

Military sea service is evaluated in accordance with 46 Code of Federal Regulations 11.213 and Marine Safety Manual VOL III, Chapter II. Most military sea service may be used towards a Merchant Mariner Credential when properly documented. Documentation at a minimum must contain the following:

  • Vessel name
  • GRT or displacement tonnage
  • Horsepower with propulsion(s)
  • Dates assigned to the vessel
  • Position served (BMC, SK1, LT, etc.)
  • Displacement tonnage

Click on the following to learn more:

Crediting Military Sea Service Officers
Training and Exams Reasons For Delay
Enlisted Personnel Recency

Assessment Requirements

An evaluation of assessments is completed in the Professional Evaluations stage of processing. The drop down below provides Assessment Packages for various endorsements. The packages include ONLY the assessments/control sheets needed to obtain that endorsement and a list of helpful hints for completing the assessments/control sheets.


If you need to view the Policy Letter or National Vessel Inspection Circular in full, please click on the following:

Course Requirements

An approved course satisfies regulatory requirements and in some cases substitutes for a examination or a portion of a service requirement. The Professional Qualifications Branch reviews course completion certificates to determine applicability.  When submitting a course completion certificate, you do not need to submit the original. However, the copy must be legible. Some course providers use MTAD to submit course completion certificates.

Please ensure the following when submitting a course completion certificate:

  • Your name is spelled correctly on the certificate.
  • The course completion date is correct.
  • The course completion date is within listed CFR standards.
  • The course is Coast Guard approved.
  • The course is appropriate for the credential for which you are applying.

Please visit our Approval List for a complete listing of approved courses.

Exam Requirements

In accordance with 46 Code of Federal Regulations (46 CFR Part 10), a professional examination is conducted for applicants of original issues, raises of grade, modifications (increases in scope), and renewals. Once it is determined that a credential’s requirements have been met, an “Approval to Test” letter is mailed by the evaluator to the applicant.  Also, there will be an e-mail indicating that the mariner is approved to test for his/her credential (if an e-mail address was included with the application).  The letter must be in hand prior to scheduling the examinations; the e-mail will not be accepted to schedule exams.

Appointment Scheduler

There are two basic types of "Approval to Test" letters. Click on each of the following links to see samples:

Once you have completed testing, the examiner will contact the evaluator and your credential will be issued.

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