USCG License UK MCA Master Unlimited

Hi first time posting. I am now a US citizen and living in San Diego, I hold a UK MCA Master Mariners Unlimited Tonnage COC. I am keen to obtain a USCG License that would allow me to Captain on the likes of Hornblower cruises etc.

I have not been able to get a definitive answer from the USCG on what License I can apply for having taken into account my past experience.

I am more than happy to sit any USCG exams needed but I am hoping my UK license would count towards something.

Any help or advice on the matter would be really appreciated

You can use your sea time on foreign vessels the same as service on a US vessel while holding a US license, see 46 CFR 10.232(f). Without knowing the tonnage and capacities of your service, I would suggest applying for a U.S. “national endorsement” as Master Unlimited Tonnage, and documenting the service required in 46 CFR 11.404 (one year as Chief Mate, all over 100 GRT and at least half over 1,600 GRT).

Any license over 200 GRT requires fire fighting training. If you do not want to get that, consider applying for Master Less Than 200 GRT. This should be sufficient to work on “T” and “K” boats (small passenger vessels).

STCW will be more difficult. The United States does not “endorse” or recognize certificates from other countries. But, to work on a small passenger vessels that only engages on near-coastal domestic voyages, you won’t need STCW, see 46 CFR 15.1101(a)(2).

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Most of those kind of vessels only require a 100 grt master. I know hornblower has some bigger tonnage vessels but I’m not sure if any of their san diego fleet is.

However, you should get the biggest ticket you can qualify for regardless of your immediate goals.

Many with similair questions to yours have posted here, and the best response is to get a licensing consultant. There is one in san diego…I have some friends who have used her and hear she is money well spent.


It’s probably going to be a PIA. I am not up on US regulations. I did the same thing in Canada. I had to get a Canadian certificate.

My understanding is the US will accept and recognize your seatime but not your certification.
So you will most likely have to do the whole shebang of mandatory BS courses at a regognized training facility. If you are lucky some UK course may be approved. You will need to look up list of approved foreign course providers.

First step get your discharge book, and watch keeping testimonials take them in to your local USCG examination office and fill out the sea time form. Detailing the whole lot.
They will take copies of your original certificates.
Apply for a US MM you got the time.
If you apply for a lesser certificate. You may find you are caught in a quandry. Getting your seatime approved and accepted may be a once only.
So get approved for the highest certification you can.

If you get approved for a lesser US certificate you may have to accrue seatime on this certificate prior to writing a higher one.
So get your seatime approved first.
Local guy might not know answers to what is required. You may have to apply to regional office.

Once you have seatime approved they will tell you which exams you are required to take.
Worst case scenario. All of them from 2nd Mate up.

They will take copies of all your original course certificates and tell you which ones you require be prepared it’s likley to be the whole lot.

So the remaining question. Is it worth your while.
Probably is.
You got MM there is a demand. Do you want shore side or seagoing.

Good luck.
Fortunately for me I used my DOT Cert in Canada to sail as a chief Mate prior to regulations changing So I only had to do the the Masters exams again. Plus all the Marine Emergency Duties, Electronic Nav RADAR First Aid etc.

There is more BS now like leadership etc. GMDSS is one of the few which might be acceptable.

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All of the above applies to STCW only. As I had noted, if you are looking to work on small passenger vessels (under 200 GRT), you probably do not need STCW.

Then please refrain from offering advice about how to manage them.

Is there any such thing?


While normally I’d agree I don’t see anything seriously incorrect about his advice.

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Just wondering; did you ever proceed with getting your USCG license? I’m in the same boat with my UK MCA MM license and having just obtained my US citizenship I’m looking to do the same.

Would very much appreciate any advice you may have.