Foreign Marine Professional looking to obtain USCG License

Yeah, it won’t be an overnight process that’s for sure, but just thinking along the lines of someone said to get the highest/most rated license possible from the offset and then move up from there. But with the STCW certificates I have not being recognized, then I think it’s going to take a little longer than anticipated.

Tried chatting with the folks at the NMC and they were about much use as a chocolate tea pot, so have contacted a few of the License Consultants that were named on here in another thread (thanks tugsailor!) and am hoping they can give me somewhat more of an answer.

In the meantime, I’m sure I’ll be asking a ton more questions on here! Such as, how many of you have applied for your licenses yourselves and not used a consultant? I know it’s an issue with incorrect forms and what not holding you back, and your cases are probably less complex than mine, but just wondering how difficult it is for someone to apply for their licenses?

Ratings are not licensed. The USMM has licensed officers and unlicensed ratings. Until you stop saying “license” you will just confuse yourself and anyone you might contact regarding employment … not a good job hunting strategy.

No Cure No Pay?

Understood. Will refer to them as Rating’s credentials or ticket from now on. Just a turn of phrase from being so used to refer to my Engineer’s License.

Very true. Will be calling a different one in a second to see what they have to say.

As has been noted already, only U.S. citizens can receive officer endorsements (licenses). Citizens and non-citizens admitted for permanent residence in the U.S. can receive ratings endorsements.

If you obtain U.S. citizenship, you would be eligible for U.S. officer endorsements. The national endorsement (license) is straight forward. Service on foreign vessels is acceptable, even under the authority of credentials from another country. For example, if you have time as a First Assistant Engineer (Second Engineer Officer in STCW) under UK credentials, that time would be accepted as First Assistant Engineer service for U.S. credentials. You would need to take the appropriate examinations for whatever you apply for, and meet any “ancillary” training requirements. For any engineer license, this would be basic and advanced firefighting and first aid and cpr.

STCW endorsements are more complicated. As has been noted, the U’S. does not endorse foreign certificates, and does not issues certificates attesting recognition of foreign certificates. You will need to demonstrate that you meet all of the current U.S. requirements for the STCW endorsement, that you hold a certificate from another country by itself will not be sufficient. You will need to provide sufficient information on your training and demonstrations of the STCW competence to evince that you meet current U.S. requirements. This might be very difficult if your training for either the management level (Second Engineer Officer/Chief Engineer) or OICEW were before STCW95 (pre-2001). Current requirements for Chief Engineer are in NVIC 15-14 and for OICEW in NVIC 17-14.

Youi would be currently eligible for national QMED endorsements and STCW ratings endorsements. For any of the QMWED endorsements, you need 6 months in the engine department, and foreign time is acceptable. There are separate exams for each QMED endorsement. You would also be eligible for an STCW endorsement as Able Seafarer-Engine, seeNVIC 18-14 for more information. You might be eligible3 for this without further training or practical assessment. Mariners who held a QMED endorsement before January 1, 2017, are eligible without further training or assessment (See paragraph 2.b. of Enclosure (1) to the NVIC).


Not shooting the messenger (thank you as always for the information), but doesn’t it seem a bit ironic that the USA won’t recognize STCW from other countries when the underlying purpose and spirit of STCW was to get all countries on a “standard” training and certification structure?!?

Funny how it’s easier to get the US National license, but way more difficult to get STCW endorsements…

Not if you consider that it has more to do with funneling cash from sailors to training schools than safety or the other professed objectives. Foreign schools that may or may not do an equal or even better job of providing training don’t hire ex-coasties or write campaign contribution checks.

I don’t know about “funny” - none of this crap has been amusing for a very long time, it just keeps getting more disgusting.


The bitter irony is that the company who I did my STCW renewal through, Falk International, has a training facility in the US that conforms to the USCG requirements. BUT because I completed my renewals in the Netherlands (Netherlands/US based cruise company so figures), USCG will not recognize my credentials for STCW. Even though I contacted the training company and the standards are higher in the Netherlands due to the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate requiring more…

A thousand bitter ironies form the reasons the US merchant marine is terminally ill while the CG, MARAD, and shipowners are growing fat.

The American mariner is being regulated out of existence by these bitter ironies. While it is perfectly OK for a thousand foreign seafarers to use American waters and port facilities it is considered too serious a threat for single American mariner to receive training from the same schools as their foreign counterpart.


I agree, it isn’t funny as in laughing matter, but more like peculiar and downright disgusting. I am still curious to what problem all these rules and regulations solve?

I absolutely agree with the others who mentioned using a maritime license consultant to ensure that you get the most out of your efforts. Do a search of the forum for recommendations. There are too many pitfalls awaiting that a consultant can catch and correct before you end up having to deal with the USCG bureaucracy. It will be money well spent.

Thanks for the input catherder, couldn’t agree more. I’ve actually been in touch with Maritime Professional Training and they’ve got someone who is going to assist me with my applications. Figure the more people who look at it the better right? And they have experience with UK mariners looking to gain USCG credentials.


While i know they exist I’ve never seen a COI that requires more than Oiler. If you really want to take all those tests go for it but you could just take Oiler then wait until you test for 3AE.

From what I understand, I can just test straight for the QMED-Any Rating, and so don’t have to take the individual tests for each rating.

Think this is right, but will be making sure when I get back and start going through the process for getting my ratings tickets together. Will be getting the medical done day I get home and applying for TWICs shortly afterwards.

I wasn’t aware there was an exam for ‘qmed-any rating’? I lucked out. When I got unlimited hp on my ticket it was given to me.
The few career qmeds I’ve met told me they had to test for each one individually, but maybe my info is out of date. I would definately make sure but I’m sure you’ll find out once the ball starts rolling for you in the process.

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It’s not right. There is no test for “QMED Any Rating. You have to apply for, and test for each of them.

Yeah think I got that one wrong. In order to get the QMED Any Rating, I would have to hold all 5 rating endorsements under QMED first. I meant to say that I’m going to apply and test for QMED-Junior Engineer because I think my Sea Time will count as more than sufficient. Currently sailing as Staff Chief Engineer (don’t know what the equivalent would be, First Assistant maybe?) so shouldn’t be a problem. From what I’ve been told, that would be the one most helpful to me if that makes sense. Even though I’ve heard of people being hired as “unlicensed Chief Engineers” with an Oiler or Wiper endorsement.
That sound a bit more like it?

Applying for a position as an unlicensed Chief on a tug all you really need is an MMC with OS/wiper. Your foreign license, STCW Certs and experience are what will impress most employers.

That said, I suggest that you apply for and take all the exams for QMED-Any Rating. I think the exams will be very similar and you can breeze through all of them in one week. You might as well get all you can.

If you only get oiler, some employer may wonder why you don’t have the other endorsements. A company hauling frozen fish might like a reefer endorsement. A company having electrical problems might like an electrician endorsement. Some HR girl screening CVs might be impressed by junior engineer.

You would still need an exam for QMED-Junior Engineer, unless you are also applying for and test for Electrician-Refrigerating Engineer, Oiler, and FiremanWatertender. If you test for all of thoise, there is no further test for Junior Engineer.