NMC, SIU Clarifiy Medical Certificate Requirements


April 2014

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As of March 31, all Seafarers who sail internationally should have received communications in the mail from the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC). The package – which refers to the NMC’s final rule on amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) – should include a new medical certificate that brings mariners in compliance with the latest international rules.


These new requirements come with a lot of information to digest. The NMC and SIU have worked to make the entire process as easy to navigate as possible. The NMC acknowledged the need to keep mariners in the loop and has hosted meetings and issued guidance documents to clarify the process.


“We are fully aware there is a lot of anxiety [about] the future of the implementation of the STCW with the domestic fleet,” said Mayte Medina, chief of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division. “We will continue to use the advisory committees and use the public meetings.”


The SIU has also taken an active role in informing mariners about the changes. Following is a breakdown of what mariners need to know for now about the STCW Manila amendments and how the new rules affect them.


Background on Medical Certificates

Medical certificates are now being issued by the NMC to serve as proof the mariner meets certain medical and physical standards.


The certificates ensure U.S. mariners are in compliance with the new Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) requirement that mariners have a medical certificate issued by the flag administration they sail under.


Receiving Medical Certificates

   All mariners holding STCW endorsements should have automatically received the medical certificates in the mail by March 31, free of charge. The certificates are mailed to the address the NMC has on file for the mariner.


Medical certificates should be scanned at the mariner’s union hall to be entered into the SMIS database.


  Mariners must sign their medical certificate and carry it with them aboard vessels.


Mariners who have changed their address since their last credentialing transaction should contact the NMC at IAskNMC@uscg.mil or 1-888-427-5662 to ensure the right address is on file. n Those who have yet to receive their certificates should contact the NMC at 1-888-427-5662.


Expiration Dates

Each medical certificate carries three expiration dates. One is the expiration date for the STCW, a second is the expiration date for the national endorsement and the third is the expiration date for first class pilotage.


If a mariner’s medical certificate expires during a voyage, it will remain valid until the next U.S. port of call, provided the period after expiration does not exceed 90 days.



Mariners with existing medical waivers are issued a medical certificate, provided the mariner is compliant with the terms of the waiver. If a mariner has not complied with the annual reporting requirements or other conditions, the NMC will not issue medical certificates.


Mariners receiving a waiver of certain medical conditions may receive a time-limited medical certificate. Applicants must comply with the terms of their waiver letter in order to renew the certificate. Entry-Level Mariners n Entry-level mariners should contact IAskNMC@uscg.mil or 1-888-427-5662 to request issuance of a two-year medical certificate.


  They must also obtain a Coast Guard physical examination, attach any additional information and submit the physical to a Coast Guard regional examination center and request, in writing, a two-year medical certificate.


  Along with the physical examination, entry-level mariners must provide proof of sailing on international vessels and submit a copy of a discharge or company letter. Comprehensive information about the STCW final rule is available at www.uscg. mil/nmc




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