Guidance

How to apply for or revalidate a UK Certificate of Competence

Information on how to gain or revalidate a UK CoC for working Deck and Engineering Officers working on board merchant vessels and yachts.

Overview

Your application is for an oral exam leading to a UK certificate of competency (CoC) issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

A UK CoC meets the applicable standards of training certification and watchkeeping (STCW) requirements.

Application forms and guidance notes are available for deck and engineer officers working on:

  • merchant navy vessels
  • commercially and privately operated yachts and sail training vessels
  • workboats and tugs

Application process and contacts

Submitting your application

Read the guidance notes in the application form to make sure you’ve filled in all the correct information. Check that you have the required certificates and qualifications and that you’ve got the paperwork you need to support your application. You’ll need to supply original copies of documents and certificates unless it states otherwise.

You must submit the following items with your application form:

  • certified copy of passport (and visa if applicable)
  • discharge book or certificates of discharge (original copies)
  • sea service testimonials (original copies)
  • 2 passport size photos (countersigned)
  • valid medical fitness certificate ENG 1 or a recognised non UK equivalent, for more information read MSN 1815 (M)
  • fee as stated on application form

The application form specifies the additional documents you’ll need to supply either with your application or before your CoC can be issued. These will include:

  • applicable ancillary course certificates
  • evidence of completion of MCA approved training and education courses

Post your application, supporting documents and fee to the MCA:

Seafarer Training and Certification Branch
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
Southampton
SO15 1EG

MCA does not accept email or fax applications

MCA aims to process your application within 28 days of receipt. You’ll receive an email:

  • when your application has been received
  • if any further information/evidence is needed
  • when your certificate(s) and documents are being couriered back to you

Notice of eligibility (NOE) and oral exam

If you are required to take an oral exam you’ll need to obtain an NOE. An NOE will be issued if your application is in order and you meet the sea time requirements. NOEs are valid for 5 years.

The NOE allows you to book an oral exam at your local MCA marine office. It also lists any further documentary evidence or certificates you’ll need to submit before the issue of your CoC.

It’s recommended that you complete all education and training before sitting your oral exam.

You can find more information about the NOE and the oral exam syllabus in MGN 69 which sets out the oral examination syllabi for STCW 78 (as amended).

Oral exam results and issue of CoC

Your exam result will be recorded on your NOE. An oral pass result is valid for 3 years so make sure all your certificates are valid when you return your NOE for issue of your CoC. MCA aims to issue a CoC within 14 days of receiving your NOE pass and any outstanding documents. A CoC is valid for seagoing service for 5 years. If you’re a deck officer you should submit your GMDSS certificate with your NOE pass so that your endorsement expiry date can be synchronised with the date on your CoC. If you fail your exam you must still return your NOE and requested documents to MCA. You can apply for a re-sit. You’ll find instructions on the NOE.

Contact MCA

Contact the Seafarer training and certification branch at MCA if you’ve got any queries about your application or exam.

Telephone: +44 (0) 23 8032 9231
Email: deck@mcga.gov.uk
Email: engineering@mcga.gov.uk
Email: revalidation@mcga.gov.uk
Email: exams@mcga.gov.uk

The MCA doesn’t offer a counter service.

Application forms and guidance notes

Deck officers

Merchant navy

Use form MSF 4274 below to apply for an oral examination leading to the issue of a CoC for masters, chief mates and deck officers in the merchant navy

You can also use this form to get an upgrade from:

  • OOW (unlimited) to chief mate (less than 3000 GT)
  • chief mate (unlimited) to master (less than 3000 GT unlimited or more than 3000 GT near coastal).

Download

  • MSF 4274 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of a certificate of competency (STCW) for masters, chief mates and deck officers in the merchant navy

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MSN 1856 (M) below.

Download

  • MSN 1856 (M) Training & certification guidance: UK requirements for master and deck officers

Commercial and private yachts

For information on Yacht CoCs for Deck Officers, please see the Certification for Deck Officers on Commercial and Private yachts Guidance Page, found here

Using yacht sea service towards a merchant navy application

Use form MSF 4274 above to apply for an oral examination leading to the issue of a CoC for masters, chief mates and deck officers in the merchant navy. You must complete your sea service on page 9 of the application form.

Further information about yacht sea service is available in MIN 498 (M) below.

Download

  • MIN 498 (M) Seafarer training and certification: using yacht sea service towards unlimited merchant navy CoC application

Engineer officer

Merchant navy

Use form MSF 4275 below to apply for your chief engineer, second engineer or engineer officer of the watch (EOOW) CoC.

Download

  • MSF 4275 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of a certificate of competency (STCW) engineer officers in the merchant navy.

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MSN 1857 (M) below.

Download

  • MSN 1857 (M) Training & certification guidance: UK requirements for engineer officers and engineer operators.

Commercial and private yachts

Use form MSF 4278 below to apply for your engineer officer CoC.

Download

  • MSF 4278 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of certificate of competency (STCW) engineer officers on commercially and privately operated yachts

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MSN 1859 (M) below.

Download

  • MSN 1859 (M) Training & certification guidance: UK requirements for engineer officers on large yachts (over 24m).

Electro technical officer (ETO)

Use form MSF 4259 below to apply for your ETO CoC.

Download

  • MSF 4259 Application for an oral exam leading to the issue of an STCW electro technical officer (ETO) certificates of competency (CoC)

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MSN 1860 (M) below.

Download

  • MSN 1860 Training & certification guidance: UK requirements for electro-technical officers.

Workboats and tugs

Master workboat less than 500 GT

Use form MSF 4257 below to apply for your master workboat less than 500 GT CoC.

Download

  • MSF 4257 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of certificate of competency (STCW) for master workboat less than 500 GT

Further information about training and certification is available in MGN 496 (M+F) below.

Download

Masters and deck officers of tugs

Use form MSF 4260 below to apply for your master or deck officer of tugs CoC.

Download

  • MSF 4260 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of a certificate of competency (STCW) for masters and deck officers of tugs

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MGN 495 (M+F) below.

Download

  • MGN 495 (M+F) Certificate of competency for master and officer of the watch tug less than 500 GT and 3000 GT near coastal and certificate of proficiency for tug rating

Engineer tug certificate scheme

Certification for tug engineers through the Vocational Qualification (VQ) route is now closed. A new tug engineer scheme will take in the legislation and guidance that brings the STCW 2010 amendments into force.

In the meantime it’s been agreed between MCA and the British Tug Association to use the interim tug engineer certification scheme below to gain tug engineer certification.

Download

Use form MSF 4278 to apply for your engineer tug officer CoC.

Revalidation and replacement of CoCs

Revalidation of CoC

Your CoC is valid for 5 years’ seagoing service. You can apply to renew either existing or expired certificates.You can do this if you’ve completed one of the following:

  • 12 months’ seagoing service in the last 5 years
  • 3 months’ seagoing service in the last 6 months
  • 2 and a half years in an acceptable occupation

Examples of acceptable occupations are:

  • marine pilot
  • MCA surveyor
  • marine college lecturer
  • technical, engineering and marine superintendent or ship repair manager
  • harbour master
  • hydrographic surveyor
  • Classification Society marine surveyor

You must also have:

  • applicable valid ancillary certificates
  • a valid medical fitness certificate ENG1 or a recognised non UK equivalent

Download

  • MSF 4201 Application for revalidation of an existing STCW deck or engineer officer certificate of competency

Further guidance can be found in MSN 1861 (M) Training & certification guidance: UK procedure for the revalidation of Certificates of Competency and tanker endorsement

Download

  • MSN 1861 (M) Training & certification guidance: UK procedure for the revalidation of Certificates of Competency and tanker endorsement

If you hold a CoC but do not meet the revalidation requirements listed above you will need to revalidate through the alternative route. apply using form MSF 4258 below.

Download

  • MSF 4258 Alternative route for the revalidation of a certificate of competency for officers not meeting the requirements of MGN 9

Further information can be found in the information note MIN 501 (M) Alternative route for revalidating a UK certificate of competency: for officers not meeting requirements laid out in MGN 9.

If you’re a deck officer you should submit your GMDSS certificate with your revalidation application so that your endorsement expiry date can be synchronised with the date on your CoC. The MCA aims to revalidate your CoC within 14 days of receipt of your application.

Replacement of your CoC or CEC

If you lose your CoC or CEC - through theft, loss or destruction - you must report it to the police. You can apply for a replacement using form MSF 4299 below. Attach a copy of the Police report to your application.

Download

MSF 4299 Application for the replacement of a certificate of competencyor certificate of equivilent competency.

If your lost certificate has also expired you should also apply for a revalidation.

Special training

Further training and certification is needed if you work on:

  • tankers
  • high-speed craft (including hovercraft)
  • passenger ships

Find forms and guidance on training in ‘Special training for ratings and officers’

Training providers and syllabuses

Find out more about how to get the qualifications you need for your CoC in UK Seafarer careers: training provisions and information.

Published 1 May 2014
Last updated 10 August 2017 + show all updates
  1. Removed 6 week processing time alert.
  2. New page for Certification for Deck Officers on Commercial and Private yachts is available, A link has been added to it from here.
  3. $CTA ###Unfortunately, due to a technical fault, our phone lines are currently unavailable. Contact us by email: * Deck Team - deck@mcga.gov.uk * Engineering - engineering@mcga.gov.uk ###Our phone lines are expected to be down for the next 48 hours. An update will be provided on Wednesday (06/08/2014). $CTA
  4. Unfortunately, due to a technical fault, our phone lines are currently unavailable. Contact us by email: Deck Team - deck@mcga.gov.uk Engineering - engineering@mcga.gov.uk Our phone lines are expected to be down for the next 48 hours. An update will be provided on Wednesday (04/08/2014).
  5. First published.