Hiring crew for ships and yachts

3. Certificates of competency

You must follow international regulations from Standards in Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) if you have a commercial vessel going to sea.

Some crew members need a certificate of competency (CoC) or certificate of equivalent competency (CEC) to carry out certain duties.

For seafarers’ CoCs to remain valid on certain types of ship they’ll need to meet new training standards in line with STCW regulations (‘2010 Manila Amendments’).

Deck officers

Masters and other deck department officers need a CoC if they’re performing:

  • bridge watch-keeping duties
  • navigational duties

CoCs for deck officers are restricted depending on:

  • the size of the ship or yacht
  • the area of sea where it will operate

Download an application for a CoC for:

You can use a Certificate of Service instead, if you have one. These were issued until 1998.

Engineer officers

Engineer officers on a ship or yacht with a power output of 750 kilowatts or more need a CoC. There are different CoCs for engineer officers, depending on:

  • the power output of the ship or yacht
  • the area of sea where it will be operating

Download an application for a CoC for:

Revalidating CoCs

Deck and engineering officers must revalidate their certificate every 5 years. They do this by showing they’ve completed either:

  • 12 months’ sea service in the last 5 years
  • 3 months’ sea service in the last 6 months
  • 2.5 years in a relevant job - contact the MCA for advice

Use form MSF 4258 if someone you want to hire can’t revalidate their CoC because they don’t meet the requirements.

Watch ratings

Watch ratings on merchant ships need a CoC if they’re performing navigation or engine room duties.

Radio operators

Radio operators need CoCs if they handle distress and safety radio-communications. All radio personnel serving on UK-registered ships must have either:

  • a Restricted Operator’s Certificate (ROC)
  • a General Operator’s Certificate (GOC)

Other crew

Ships’ cooks and security officers may also need a CoC.

More information

To find out more about the certification structure and examination and training requirements, read:

Contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to find out which members of your crew need a CoC.

MCA training and certification helpline
Telephone: 023 8032 9231
Find out about call charges

Certificate of equivalent competency (CEC)

A CEC allows officers holding Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificates issued by some non-UK countries to work as officers on UK-registered merchant ships.

To get a CEC, your crew member must complete the CEC application form. As part of the application process they may be asked to prove their:

  • standards of competency
  • ability to use the English language (this may include an oral exam)
  • knowledge of UK law relating to their job

Read more about CECs or download part 19 of the MCA’s training and certification guidance for more information.