Medical certificates: maritime security guards

Guidance for maritime security guards and their employers about the medical certificates needed for working at sea.


Maritime security guards are also known as private maritime security contractors (PMSCs), armed guards, or security personnel.

This guidance for maritime security guards, and their employers, outlines the medical fitness certificate requirements specific to them.

Medical certificates

If your normal place of work is on a UK flag vessel, then you are classed as a ‘seafarer’ and you need an ENG1 certificate or equivalent.

Read ‘Seafarers: medical certification guidance’.

Maritime security guards who fail ENG1 colour vision tests

If you fail an Isihara test, you’ll get your ENG1, but it will be restricted: ‘No navigational lookout duties’

If you pass a lantern test at one of four centres in the UK, the restriction can be removed. This is providing there are no other medical conditions that may affect your fitness to work at sea.

Employers of maritime security guards: medical certification guidance

Because a maritime security guard is classed as a ‘seafarer’, they must have the minimum appropriate medical fitness certificate: an ENG 1 or equivalent.

An ENG 1 is an assessment of a person’s fitness to work at sea. It doesn’t assess their mental health, or how suitable they are to carry a firearm.

If you want your security guards to have additional fitness, mental health or firearm testing:

  • get legal advice on the competence level a doctor needs to assess them on
  • get them tested with another doctor

Please note: The approved doctor might be happy to carry out the additional testing, but this is at their discretion because it falls outside of the ENG1 requirements.

Discuss this with MCA before the appointment is booked.

Further guidance for employers

The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued a code of practice that details the best way to assess a maritime security guard’s fitness.

Interim guidance to UK flagged shipping on the use of armed guards to defend against the threat of piracy in exceptional circumstances version 1.1

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Published 1 May 2014