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7 Facts about the New STCW Medical Requirements


Many mariners are confused and anxious over the new medical certificate requirements that the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) recently amended in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).

By now, all international seafarers should have received a packet from the NMC that contains a new medical certificate. The information is comprehensive and intimidating. To help you understand what’s now expected of you, below are seven important stipulations about the STCW and the new medical requirements and certificate guidelines that mariners should know in order to stay in compliance with the latest international rules.

The Purpose of the New Medical Requirements and Certificates

First, it’s important to understand the basic premise of the new medical requirements issued by the NMC:

  • Fact #1 – the NMC now issues medical certificates as proof that seafarers meet the necessary medical and physical standards. The certificates ensure compliance with the new Maritime Labor Convention’s (MLC) requirement which states that mariners must have a medical certificate issued by their flag country.
  • Fact #2 – the NMC has already issued medical certificates to all mariners who currently hold STCW endorsements. The certificates were free of charge and mailed out prior to March 31.

If you are an international seafarer with STCW endorsements and you changed your address since you last communicated with the NMC, you might not have received your certificate in the mail. Contact the NMC at 888-427-5662 to update your records and obtain your certificate.

Keeping Your Certificate On-Hand

After you’ve received your certificate, it’s vital to keep it on-hand:

  • Fact #3 – when you receive your medical certificate, you’ll need to take it to your union hall so it can be scanned and inputted into the SMIS database.
  • Fact #4 – the STCW stipulates that you have to sign it and carry it with you when you aboard a vessel.

Expirations and Waivers

The new STCW manila rules also cover expiration dates and waivers:

  • Fact # 5 – your new certificate will have three expiration dates: the expiration date for the STCW, the expiration date for your national endorsement, and the expiration date for first class pilotage. If your certificate expires while you’re at sea, it will remain valid until your next U.S. port of call, so long as your expiration does not exceed 90 days.
  • Fact #6 – if you currently have medical waiver, you will be automatically issued a medical certificate, provided you have remained compliant with the terms of your waiver.
  • Fact #7 – entry-level mariners need to contact the NMC to request a medical certificate. They will need to submit a physical examination, proof of sailing on international vessels, and a copy of a discharge or company letter.

For Legal Questions about Maritime Injuries, Contact the Young Firm

Seafarers can obtain more information about the STCW amendments by visiting the U.S.C.G NMC online directory.



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