You need a seaman’s discharge book if you’re a British seafarer, or are working on a UK-registered ship or yacht.

How to apply

Download an application form for a British seaman’s card or discharge book.

Apply by post

It costs £40 to apply for a British seaman’s card and £40 to apply for a discharge book. The form explains how to pay and where to send your application.

Apply in person

You can apply in person at your local Marine Office. It costs £90 for a British seaman’s card and £90 for a discharge book.

To apply in person you must have an appointment with a Marine Office. There are telephone numbers on the form.

Seaman’s discharge book

A seaman’s discharge book is a full record of a seaman’s career experience and certification.

You need a discharge book if you are either:

  • a British citizen who works on ships or large yachts
  • not a British citizen but employed on a UK-registered ship or large yacht

You don’t need a discharge book if you’re employed:

  • on a ship that doesn’t go to sea
  • on a pleasure boat and don’t receive any pay
  • only for the purpose of testing the ship, its machinery or equipment in UK coastal waters
  • by the Crown and not normally employed as a master or seaman
  • specifically for the construction, alteration, repair or testing of a ship
  • on an un-registered ship

British seaman’s card

A British seaman’s card is an internationally accepted document which lets British seamen land at foreign ports without needing a visa. You must be a British citizen to apply for a card.

You don’t need a card if you:

  • work in a ship belonging to a general lighthouse authority
  • receive little or no pay (but cadets can apply)

Contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) if you need help with your application.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Telephone: 029 2044 8844
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