How to apply for an LIA or college letter to train as an engineer officer

Information for a letter of initial assessment or college letter, so you can train for an engineer officer certificate of competence (CoC)


You need a Letter of Initial Assessment (LIA) from the MCA or a letter from your college if you’re not following an MNTB approved cadetship and you want to qualify as an engineer officer of the watch (EOOW).

You can apply for an EOOW CoC through either of the following routes:

  • experienced seafarer route (minimum 24 months seagoing service)
  • alternative route as an engineer graduate (HND or degree) or apprentice
  • MCA issued LIA for former royal navy engineers or an engineer officer on a yacht

Experienced seafarers’ route applications

MCA doesn’t issue LIAs for experienced seafarers. You can apply direct to a nautical college.

The EOOW requirements for an experienced seafarer are detailed in MSN 1856 Experienced seafarer to engineer officer of the watch (EOOW) CoC.

Requirements include:

  • 24 months engine room sea service
  • an STCW regulation III/4 engine room watch rating certificate or UK MEOL/SMEOL
  • basic STCW safety training certificates
  • valid medical fitness certificate ENG 1 or a recognised non UK equivalent, for more information read MSN 1815 (M)

If you meet the requirements apply directly to a UK nautical college so you can register for the EOOW training programme.

The college will supply a letter confirming your approved training programme for you to include in your EOOW application.

Alternative route for graduates, HNC/HND holders and those with apprenticeships

The MCA doesn’t issue LIAs for graduates, HNC/HNC holders or those with relevant apprenticeships. You can apply direct to a nautical college. The ‘Alternative Route’ allows Engineering Graduates, Engineering Higher National Diploma (HND)/Higher National Certificate (HNC) holders or those with suitable engineering apprenticeship (NVQ level 3 or above) to have their qualifications assessed by an MCA-approved nautical college for entry onto the UK Engineering Officer of the Watch training programme. The requirements are detailed in MIN 511.

The colleges currently offering this assessment are NAFC Marine Centre, South Tyneside College, Warsash Maritime Academy. Their details can be found under nautical colleges and training centres.

Royal Navy and yacht LIA

If you hold relevant Royal Navy qualification or would like to become a yacht engineer officer you will need to apply directly to the MCA for an LIA. With an LIA you can enrol at an MCA approved nautical college.

Apply to the MCA for an LIA using form MSF 4352 below.


  • MSF 4352 Application for a letter of initial assessment leading to the issue of a notice of eligibility for engineer officers in the merchant navy.

You’ll need to submit original documents. Refer to the checklists on the application form. The LIA you receive will indicate the training, education and sea service you need to be eligible to qualify as an EOOW. Send your application, supporting documents and the fee stated on the application form to:

Seafarer Training and Certification Branch
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG

Due to a high demand, the MCA is currently taking between 12 and 26 weeks to process an LIA application. Allow time for this to happen before you apply for eligibility for your first engineer officer of the watch (EOOW) CoC.

Contact MCA if you have any queries:

Tel +44 (0)203 8172200 and select option 3 for engineering


Published 6 May 2014