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MLC Regulation 1.2 - Mandatory Medical Certificate Requirements for Seafarers to Ensure that All Seafarers are Medically Fit to Perform Their Duties at Sea

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MLC 2006 Regulation 1.2 deals with medical certificate & examinations and are a means not only of protecting the individual seafarer from exposure to the risks of work at sea when not fit to withstand them, but also of protecting all seafarers, any passengers and cargo on board against the possible harm when a seafarer is not medically fit for the duties she or he is to perform.

The requirements under the MLC 2006 overlap with amendments on this matter adopted in June 2010 to the STCW Convention of the IMO, for seafarers who are also covered by that convention. The MLC 2006 (and the STCW Convention) does not answer the question of whether a flag State must or should require an examination in the flag State or how a flag State determines who are to be considered duly qualified medical practitioners and national practice may vary on this matter.

There are two possible exceptions to the requirement for a valid medical certificate. One is where a seafarer is urgently needed on a ship but has an expired certificate; the other is the expiry of a certificate during a voyage. In urgent cases the competent authority in the flag State may permit a seafarer to work.

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MLC 2006 Regulation 1.2 - Medical Certificate (Summary)


Purpose: To ensure that all seafarers are medically fit to perform their duties at sea



  • You cannot work on board a ship unless you are certified medically fit for your duties.
  • Medical certificates must be issued by a qualified, independent medical practitioner. In the event of a certificate being refused or restricted, you can seek a second opinion from another qualified, independent practitioner or referee.
  • Certificates must meet with accepted international standards, such as those issued to comply with the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). It is recommended that they follow the ILO/WHO Guidelines for Conducting Pre-sea and Periodic Medical Fitness Examinations for Seafarers. They must cover hearing, sight and colour vision (if it affects the seafarer’s work).
  • They must confirm that you are not suffering from any condition that would:
    • be made worse by work at sea
    • make you unable to perform your job
    • make you a danger to others
  • Medical certificates are valid for a period of 2 years (1 year for seafarers under the age of 18), colour vision certificates are valid for 6 years. If you have a recently expired certificate, in urgent cases the competent authority may allow you to work until the next port of call as long as this does not exceed a period of 3 months. For international voyages medical certificates must be in English

Title 1. Minimum Requirements for Seafarers to Work on a Ship

Regulation 1.2; Code Standard A1.2 and Guideline B1.2


MLC 2006 Regulation 1.2 - Medical Certificate 

Purpose: To ensure that all seafarers are medically fit to perform their duties at sea
  • Seafarers shall not work on a ship unless they are certified as medically fit to perform their duties.
  • Exceptions can only be permitted as prescribed in the Code.

Standard A1.2 - Medical Certificate

  1. The competent authority shall require that, prior to beginning work on a ship, seafarers hold a valid medical certificate attesting that they are medically fit to perform the duties they are to carry out at sea.
  2. In order to ensure that medical certificates genuinely reflect seafarers' state of health, in light of the duties they are to perform, the competent authority shall, after consultation with the shipowners' and seafarers' organizations concerned, and giving due consideration to applicable international guidelines referred to in Part B of this Code, prescribe the nature of the medical examination and certificate.
  3. This Standard is without prejudice to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended ("STCW"). A medical certificate issued in accordance with the requirements of STCW shall be accepted by the competent authority, for the purpose of Regulation 1.2. A medical certificate meeting the substance of those requirements, in the case of seafarers not covered by STCW, shall similarly be accepted.
  4. The medical certificate shall be issued by a duly qualified medical practitioner or, in the case of a certificate solely concerning eyesight, by a person recognized by the competent authority as qualified to issue such a certificate. Practitioners must enjoy full professional independence in exercising their medical judgement in undertaking medical examination procedures.
  5. Seafarers that have been refused a certificate or have had a limitation imposed on their ability to work, in particular with respect to time, field of work or trading area, shall be given the opportunity to have a further examination by another independent medical practitioner or by an independent medical referee.
  6. Each medical certificate shall state in particular that:
    1. the hearing and sight of the seafarer concerned, and the colour vision in the case of a seafarer to be employed in capacities where fitness for the work to be performed is liable to be affected by defective colour vision, are all satisfactory; and
    2. the seafarer concerned is not suffering from any medical condition likely to be aggravated by service at sea or to render the seafarer unfit for such service or to endanger the health of other persons on board.
  7. Unless a shorter period is required by reason of the specific duties to be performed by the seafarer concerned or is required under STCW:
    1. a medical certificate shall be valid for a maximum period of two years unless the seafarer is under the age of 18, in which case the maximum period of validity shall be one year;
    2. a certification of colour vision shall be valid for a maximum period of six years.
  8. In urgent cases the competent authority may permit a seafarer to work without a valid medical certificate until the next port of call where the seafarer can obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner, provided that:
    1. the period of such permission does not exceed three months; and
    2. the seafarer concerned is in possession of an expired medical certificate of recent date.
  9. If the period of validity of a certificate expires in the course of a voyage, the certificate shall continue in force until the next port of call where the seafarer can obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner, provided that the period shall not exceed three months.
  10. The medical certificates for seafarers working on ships ordinarily engaged on international voyages must as a minimum be provided in English.

Guideline B1.2 - Medical certificate

Guideline B1.2.1 - International guidelines

  1. The competent authority, medical practitioners, examiners, shipowners, seafarers' representatives and all other persons concerned with the conduct of medical fitness examinations of seafarer candidates and serving seafarers should follow the ILO/WHO Guidelines for Conducting Pre-sea and Periodic Medical Fitness Examinations for Seafarers, including any subsequent versions, and any other applicable international guidelines published by the International Labour Organization, the International Maritime Organization or the World Health Organization.

Disclaimer: For general information purpose only - please check with ILO MLC 2006 for the latest requirements and accurate info

LAST UPDATED ON Dec 11, 2019

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