Seeking opportunities abroad

I’ve read the thread about living as an expat and it was mostly about tax issues. I’m seeking advice on becoming an expat to seek out opportunities. Specifically, I was thinking about countries like Panama, Costa Rica, Belize…I read in the other thread that Australia had few opportunities and was largely closed to noncitizens. What about NZ?

I’d be interested to hear about any non-Middle Eastern country (except perhaps Israel) that needs good mariners. I am an Able Seafarer- Deck…I have a Mate 1500T Oceans but am unsure of its international validity. I should be getting a Panamanian seafarers book that I paid for from a contract job. I’ve worked mostly offshore and 12 days for a cruise line before that went up in smoke, I need to go where the opportunities are.

1 Like

Presuming you are American. You need the licence of the country where the vessel is flagged, and where you live makes no difference for FOCs like Panama. In Canada, they want you redo nearly everything as far as exams go and (I think, be a resident): nobody’s else’s license is any good: but after you get it you can live where you like. UK allows you to transfer your license: They don’t care where you live. Your obstacles to living where-ever you want to are legal and financial in nature, you want to immigrate and support yourself. Licencing country has almost no bearing on that. Let me offer you Malta for consideration, though. So lovely. I’d say Cyprus, too, but their Turkish problem seems to be flaring up, so now might not be the best time.


To check if your certificates and licences will be valid internationally Google “STCW a guide for Seafarers PDF”. This will help you see where you stand with documentation. Let me know if I can help you with this.

If you are properly certified you can pretty much live anywhere you want and work internationally (with some exceptions). This is probably the easiest option.

The harder option is choosing a place to live and working there domestically, because you run into issues like Canada and having to resit exams.

My circumstance - I have a UK CoC, but live in Canada. I cannot get work in Canada, but do work everywhere else in the world.

If you want to work internationally start looking for crewing and manning agents in different countries and try to narrow in on the type of ships you want to work.

A properly certified Seafarer can work and live almost anyway. Let me know if I can help you search, I’ve been through it a few times so I’m happy to help.

1 Like

I haven’t heard of any countries that have a shortage of mariners & would be surprised if a place fits that description. You say “expat” so I assume you are American & work in the states? Keep the job you have now or find a higher paying one & move anywhere in the world that you want once this Covid19 crisis calms down. (It’s still making travel a bitch but tickets seem cheaper.) If you think it is hard finding a higher paying job in the states imagine how difficult it would be in a foriegn country where you might not know the lingo, have no contacts or nonething in common with the people you want to work with? If you currently work close to an international hub like LAX, MIA, JFK, IAH you’d be surprised by how cheap you can fly if you use the cheap, non-US airlines. For 2 years I worked in the GoM, lived in Peru & my tickets to Peru were cheaper than my assistant engineer who lived in Washington state. Also, just by living in a few different countries first you can better decide on the one you really like & want to settle down in. Throwing darts at a map is no way to make a career plan & major life decision. Find a place you really like then find a decent girl there if you are single & she’ll help you in getting residency & making contacts to finding a job locally if you are still interested in doing such a thing. All takes is some courage/stupidity, a laptop, a credit card, an Airbnb account & you’re an expat seeking opportunity.

I am furloughed from the job I have (worked only 12 days there in March) and am facing layoff next month. I am seeking to leave because I can’t find opportunities here…only thing on the horizon is MSC and I think that is a very poor match for me. I’ll hear from NOAA once and then not again for months. For both the pay is uninspiring but I’m still willing to try to live with it… Only other option is sporadic contract work. My whole life is on hold because I don’t have a steady job. I have a 5 page table of companies and applications I’m tracking and nothing. I’m a fast learner and already have done a move in the States to a place where I knew nobody, I survived. My career is what’s important to me,.This is just a starting point for my research. I need to get something from at least 2 independent sources before I start to trust it and look further.

Your best option is to try and sail foreign, stay out of the US for 330 consecutive days (can not come in once) to obtain a tax benefit. That means you have to be out of the US, US territories and not on a US flagged vessel from January 1st until November 30th, that is the only way to receive any benefit in taxes. Unless you work for in Offshore or Production on a foreign flagged vessel, overseas, where the company pays your taxes on your behalf, then you can use that to offset your current US taxes. You are looking at an uphill battle, as you are American, and there are plenty of foreign seafarers looking for work with every known foreign endorsement to their name.

1 Like

Why is it an uphill battle being American? Every foreign endorsement I got was from my new employer. I never attained before getting employed and it was always arranged and paid for by them.

Was that in Offshore or Bluewater? (Not AMO - MI flagged vessels). Uphill doesn’t mean impossible, but it is harder. Find an agency that will accept your application and place you on a foreign bluewater vessel, try first with agencies in Europe I will suggest.

Same advise as I posted elsewhere today:

1 Like

This is good advise - one tricky thing at the moment may be travel restrictions due to COVID.
Deepsea/Bluewater is the way to go. There are loads of agencies in Europe and Asia who you can contact.

1 Like

I’m trying again for a second time to get leads on other countries that need qualified mariners that I can emigrate to There is simply too much qualified competition here and not nearly enough opportunity. I’ve been out of work since the middle of August and have no prospects for the rest of the year and well into the next. My 5 pages of applications is now up to 6 with little results but a handful of rejections. I am sick of applying to the same companies over and over again and getting nothing. I am 95% certain I am facing age and/or gender discrimination and my only hope is to find somewhere else where I am needed.

Ray, chances are you’ll have better luck immigrating to a different industry. You can certainly move to a new country, but the chances that you’ll break into their maritime industry are pretty unlikely, if it was easy the pay wouldn’t be worth it. Jobs are tough right now, unemployment in the US rose to almost 16% at points this year, and while its slowly trickled back down, its still well above the 4% that results in a comfortable labor market. Suffice to say, if you need a job, look for any job. Unfortunately its not a good time to be job shopping.

1 Like

If I can’t compete in an industry where I spent thousands of dollars of my own money to get qualified and earned the relevant experience, I certainly can’t compete elsewhere where I DON’T have the experience or qualifications and there’s even MORE competition that does. This makes me even more hopeless and I’m watching my career and my life swirl down the toilet. One o the few things I CAN do that most of my competition can’t or won’t do is pick up and start over in another country…but in a few more months I will no longer have the reserves to do that.

Welcome to reality. Accept it and move on. The direction, distance, and occupation is up to you. Once you accept that you will see that your options just multiplied enormously.

As has been stated already, it’s generally as hard in other countries for foreigners to break into their maritime employment market as it is for foreigners to break into ours here in the US. Apply to the ship managers already provided and try to sail foreign that way.

Do you have a towing endorsement?

1 Like

Do you have Liberian, Marshall Island or Panamanian licenses (CoC)?

I supposedly got a Panamanian seaman’s book from a contract job. Paid $200 for it and have been trying to get the contract company that applied for it for me to get it to me.

I’ve applied to the ship managers and have heard absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, the program I was in to earn my 1600T Mate’s would have gotten me a towing endorsement, but my class was placed as cadets with an OSV company so I’ve never had a chance to earn one. I swear I am Fate’s urinal.

A this point I’m not seeing any options.

Mariners usually have a lot of skills that translate to other industries. Everything from Construction trades to security to commercial driving and more. A lot of people on this forum, myself included, have worked side jobs in other fields both for fun or out of necessity. Chances are you won’t make the kind of money per-day that you could sailing on your credentials, it is what it is. If you look around and a willing to sail below your credentials, willing to take entry level jobs, and willing to take jobs ashore you’ll find something.

1 Like