Obtaining a United States Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential

Page updated 11/30/18

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The Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) is issued by the United States Coast Guard in accordance with guidelines of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). There are two types of MMCs issued to U.S. seafarers from which interested applicants might choose:

(1) National Endorsements, and
(2) Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) 

Which MMCs you choose to pursue is based on your professional experience and the credential requirements you meet as well as your professional goals. A U.S. Coast Guard MMC can be earned in a piecemeal fashion over the course of your career and does not require the Mariner to obtain both the National and STCW. The following information provides more detail on how to obtain both types of MMC – National and STCW.

To obtain an MMC, there are specific requirements you must meet and steps you must follow in order to apply for an MMC credential. First, you will need to go to the National Maritime Center (NMC) site to use the credential specific checklists to determine professional qualifications needed for various MOC/ratings. These checklists also include general, other, sea service, and examination requirements for both National and STCW credentials. To verify you meet all of the requirements for a U.S. Coast Guard MMC, you must follow the steps and guides below to apply for an original MMC.

Step 1: Ensure you meet the MMC credential qualifications.
Step 2: If required, obtain your Transportation Workers Identification Credential from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Step 3: Fill out one of the appropriate MMC Application Packages (click on the "Original" tab, look at step 3) Forms: Original Entry Level, Original Qualified Rating; or Original Officer Endorsement. Using the MMC Application Checklist will ensure your application is complete.
Step 4: Pay Applicable Fees
Step 5: Send your application and supporting documentation to a local Regional Exam Center.

You may also want to review the Military Service Requirements, including Crediting Military Sea Service, Training and Exams, Enlisted Personnel, Officers, Reasons for Delay, and Recency. Military sea service is evaluated in accordance with 46 Code of Federal Regulations 10.232 and Marine Safety Manual Vol. III, Part A, Chapter II.

Criteria For Accepting Military Sea Experience: There are several criteria for accepting military sea experience. Application evaluations of military experience are conducted when a Transcript of Sea Service or equivalent information is presented with an application. Generally, additional information will be required to verify claims of a higher percentage of underway time than the 60% normally allowed by the regulations. In addition, the Regional Examination Center may require an official description of duties statement, letters of qualification, service record entries, or letters from former supervisors or commanding officers. Additional details related to criteria for accepting military sea experience can be obtained from the Marine Safety Manual-Vol III.

If you need additional assistance on MMC requirements, you may view the National Maritime Center’s Wizard for Original Application.

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