Tips on working with National Maritime Center

Hi everyone,

I am NO EXPERT - but after just completing the credential application process (and having a very positive overall experience working with NMC) I think a topic here about ways to successfully navigate the process would be helpful for everyone including me. I will eventually need to re-up/upgrade and knowing folks that go through that process have different struggles would be interested to hear what SOLUTIONS folks have that made getting your upgrade/credential easier.

My application process took approximately 32 days.

My big FOUR takeaways to speed the process up are:

1. If possible deliver your initial NMC application in person to your REC. Obviously this isn’t possible for everyone. I drove 3 hours to deliver mine and I guarantee it saved me a week or more in processing time. The REC representative also caught a missing signature (which could cost you a lot of days if you don’t monitor your application status online and wait to get a notice by mail).

2. Monitor your application online at least once a day (and if you have time, more than once a day). I realize this isn’t possible for everyone - but monitoring my application online helped me catch 2 errors on my forms - instead of waiting to receive my notice via mail of what info was missing or in need of “amplifying” - I called the NMC immediately and they told me what I was missing. In one instance it was Friday at 1pm and I was able to get my doctor to correct my 719K and get it back to NMC before they closed for the weekend - the NMC staff member even got it directly to the folks that needed it in Medical eval for me.

3. Take an extra day before you submit your application - let your application sit on the kitchen counter overnight - and go back through it BACKWARDS in the morning with new eyes to make sure all your I’s are dotted and T’s crossed. If I had done this I would have probably had my credential back in less than 30 days.

4. Don’t be afraid to call the NMC or use their online chat tool - and always write down who you spoke to - BE NICE - and understand that the NMC staff are just like anyone else - doing their jobs and trying to help you. There are a lot of haters out there that have had negative experiences with the NMC. I completely understand folks that have medical eval issues - I can only imagine how frustrating dealing with doctors is - so I’m not commenting on those folks/part of the process. But if you wait until the last minute to apply for your credential and it takes forever because you rush through the application, make ton of mistakes, then don’t monitor your application, respond by mail rather than email to their requests etc. its YOUR fault not the NMC that you don’t have your credential in time. Give yourself two or three times what current wait expectations are and you are likely to be happily surprised to receive your credential or upgrade WELL in advance of when you need it. It’s not like you don’t have time to plan for this.

Monitoring your application status online won’t see that as it’s not even in the system until it is passed by the REC. If you submit by email they’ll email you immediately with any issues, really simple unless you go to sea the day after you send your application off.


It’s usually much better to let a license consultant prepare a strong and complete application, submit it to the REC, monitor its progress, and deal with any problems. The consultant goes to the REC frequently and knows the staff well. He also knows how to contact most evaluators at NMC directly and deals with them all the time on numerous applications. He speaks their language and he is a lot more knowledgeable than the evaluators. He is ashore with good communications, while you may be offshore with no communications.

Emailing applications starts a paper trail of the process. If you do as suggested and wait and go through backwards looking for errors, it should be complete.
If by chance you still want to snail mail a package, send it certified return receipt requested.

Also checking status more than once a day is pointless. Their system updates about 0700 M-F, and won’t update again until the next morning.

Biggest help is preparation. For medical, look through the medical NVIC for any and all documents they’ll want, and submit them at the beginning. I have several medical issues, and have never had a delay getting my med cert back in a timely manner. I tell my Dr’s what the NMC wants, and they happily provide. Research the requirements needed for a credential. A consultant can be very helpful here. I haven’t used one, but know many people that should have.

Don’t be afraid to quote the CFR’s to the NMC. I have had them tell a shipmate they can’t accept American Red Cross CPR. I quoted the CFR to them, and they relented.

Keep copies of EVERYTHING, FOREVER. I repeat EVERTHING-FOREVER. I have had to provide a copy of my license that expired 15 years earlier, to prove I had the license. All so they would accept the letter of sea time covering that period for a license upgrade. I hope their record keeping is better now, but . . .KEEP EVERYTHING FOREVER!


Diamond Marine Services has a credential consulting service available if anyone is looking for help…