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So You Want To Be a Captain – Licensing Qualifications and Application Requirements

Source: Mariners Learning System

Coast Guard statistics indicate that most delays in the licensing process are due to mistakes or oversights in the preparation of the application paperwork. An application package will vary depending on the license you are applying for but the basic requirements will be covered in this posting.

Most applicants begin the Licensing process by reading and accurately completing CG Form 719B. This form is used for all Coast Guard credentials, both for original (first Time) applications and also for license renewals.

Included with your application package you must provide evidence that you either hold or have applied for a Transportation Workers Identification Card. To obtain a TWIC card an individual must provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, sit for a digital photograph and successfully pass a security threat assessment conducted by TSA.

The Coast Guard requires that you document the time you have spent on the water. Sea service requirements will vary considerably depending on which License you are applying for. This information is recorded using the Small Vessel Sea Service Form CG-719S or with Sea Service Letters provided by your employer(s).

If you are submitting Sea Service forms to claim time on your own vessel(s) you will be required to demonstrate that you did in fact own the boat you wish to claim time on. This can be accomplished simply by providing records of your boat registration, vessel documentation, insurance card, or sales receipt.

You must take and pass a physical examination within 1 year of applying for your license. A physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner can fill out and record their findings on form CG-719K. There are certain medical conditions that may disqualify you for a license or require a waiver such as Cardiac Disease, Diabetes, Psychiatric Disorders, Sleep Apnea, and Chronic use of narcotics.

You must have taken and passed an approved Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test within 6 months of applying for your license or provide proof of your active participation in a DOT approved random drug testing program.

You are required to complete an approved Adult CPR and First Aid course within year of submitting your application. The American Red Cross, Heart Association, and PADI all offer four-hour courses that will meet this requirement.

Finally, you will need to include in your application package three signed and dated Character Reference letters from non-relatives that will attest to your truthfulness, character, and ability to Captain a vessel.

Mariners may mail their applications directly to their local Coast Guard Regional Examination Center. Remember to include a return address on the envelope just in case there is a problem with the mail. If sending original or certified copies of documents, it highly recommended that you use certified mail or another mail service that provides tracking capabilities. Originals will be returned to you after verification. In person visits to the REC’s are no longer required.

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