Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Mariner Credentialing Program Transformation

The Coast Guard has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register proposing updates to the Merchant Mariner Credentialing Program (MCP) for the submission of information, fee payments, and technical updates.

The Coast Guard’s MCP issues merchant mariner credentials (MMC) and Medical Certificates to applicants who have met the regulatory requirements. This includes the evaluation of individual qualifications and medical fitness, administering examinations and issuing the MMC. In addition, the MCP also conducts supporting processes, such as approving mariner training courses and programs; approving course instructors; conducting course oversight and auditing; and approving Qualified Assessors and Designated Examiners. The National Maritime Center and its field units, called Regional Exam Centers and Monitoring Units, who conduct these MCP processes, have traditionally relied on handwritten applications, mailed correspondence, and recordkeeping in paper-based files.

The Coast Guard is working to replace its current credentialing system with a more technologically advanced, secure, agile, and user-friendly system that would reduce risk and improve customer service to mariners and the maritime industry. The anticipated replacement system will be web-based, allowing for direct virtual interaction between the Coast Guard and maritime industry stakeholders. This NPRM updates information submission procedures, proposes new payment procedures, and makes technical updates setting the stage for the new system.

Individuals are encouraged to submit questions and comments to the Federal Register for consideration. Comments and related material must be received no later than May 13, 2024.

For more information, the NPRM is available on the Federal Register here or search on under Docket Number USCG–2021–0834.

News Release

This sounds like a good idea and hopefully it will be a very big improvement.

I wonder if they are going to replace the underpaid under qualified, understaffed, inconsistent, error prone, “evaluators” with AI?

I am wishing they would fix the medical certificate process. When comparing to other processes, why can’t NMC vet and approve doctors to be able to issue a medical certificate on the spot?

This is the way it is handled for DOT Medical Exams, and the ENG1 medical certificate.


1 Like

The key is to simplify and reduce the workload for the USCG.

Yes, the USCG should simply start accepting DOT Commercial Drivers license Medicals (issued in the spot by doctors) as an acceptable equivalent. This would satisfy the needs of most US mariners who never leave the US.

For those of US that go foreign, we would still need an STCW compliant Medical. The USCG could simply issue it to anyone that presents a DOT Medical.

I like the Canadian system too. Approved doctors (of which there are many) issue a Provisional medical certificate on the spot, and the permanent medical cert comes from Transport Canada a month or two later.
Canadian Med Certs are accepted by most foreign governments as a full equivalent, including ENG1.

What happens when my regular doctor doesn’t want to go through the evaluation process. Then I have to pay an arm and a leg to a doctor who spend the time/effort/money to be certified by the USCG?

This would push people to use a USCG certified doctor once every 2 years instead of their primary doctor. Such a doctor would not really know you that well and people could hide things, and/or medical conditions can be overlooked.

1 Like

I think that most occupational medicine clinics and “doc in box” clinics in coastal cities would greedily get the forms to do USCG physicals, just as they do the DOT physicals.

Any doctor can do the truck driver physicals, but not all doctors have the forms or are familiar with it, but plenty of them do.

As if that’s not happening already?


I haven’t used my primary doctor ever that I can remember. :man_shrugging:


Remember…to err is human but to really screw up requires a computer…I forsee a year of big trouble as the new computer system is dialed in.

I’ve never used my PCP either… not for any nefarious reason, but force of habit. When I first started sailing you had to use an approved doctor… then when that changed, my PCP at the time didn’t “have the equipment” (in hindsight, they probably skimmed through it and saw the hearing test result blocks and thought they needed an audiometer for the physical). So yeah, now it’s just habit.

Edit: that and it’s cheaper. A CG physical from my PCP would be 100% of pocket for some reason, so the doc in a box down the street is about $50 cheaper.

I find that it’s best to use the same occupational clinics (e.g. Work Clinic, Beacon, or Concentra) for the USCG physical that most companies use in the localities where I work.

They have records on me going back years, and they have a lot of experience giving physicals to older seamen. They don’t cause unnecessary trouble.

The companies know and trust the clinics they normally use, and often don’t bother sending me for a company physical (for many jobs I fly straight to the boat).

Has anyone else noticed that now that mariners are no longer a dime a dozen that companies have become a lot less fussy about physicals.

1 Like