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IMO STCW 2010 Regulations - Minimum In-Service Eyesight Standards for Seafarers (Medical Standards for Seafarers)

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According to the ILO and STCW Convention, seafarers are required to undergo medical examinations to reduce risks to other crew members and for the safe operation of the ship, as well as to safeguard their personal health and safety.

ILO MLC 2006, and the STCW Code require seafarers to hold certificates of medical fitness, detail the information to be recorded on them and indicate certain specific aspects of fitness that need to be assessed

The STCW Convention amended in 2010 (Manila amendments) have strict eyesight requirements for seafarers. The eyesight requirement for look-out duty without eyesight corrections for each eye has to be at least 0.1 (6/60) and, with eyesight corrections is at least 0.5 (6/12). You may check the table A-I/9 for the requirements under STCW 2010 below.

In this section

STCW Code Section A-I/9 Chapter I (STCW 2010 Resolution 2)

Medical standards



  1. Parties, when establishing standards of medical fitness for seafarers as required by regulation I/9, shall adhere to the minimum in-service eyesight standards set out in table A-I/9 and take into account the criteria for physical and medical fitness set out in paragraph 2. They should also take into account the guidance given in section B-I/9 of this Code and table B-I/9 regarding assessment of minimum physical abilities.

These standards may, to the extent determined by the Party without prejudice to the safety of the seafarers or the ship, differentiate between those persons seeking to start a career at sea and those seafarers already serving at sea and between different functions on board, bearing in mind the different duties of seafarers. They shall also take into account any impairment or disease that will limit the ability of the seafarer to effectively perform his/her duties during the validity period of the medical certificate.

  1. The standards of physical and medical fitness established by the Party shall ensure that seafarers satisfy the following criteria:
    1. have the physical capability, taking into account paragraph 5 below, to fulfil all the requirements of the basic training as required by section A-VI/1, paragraph 2;
    2. demonstrate adequate hearing and speech to communicate effectively and detect any audible alarms;
    3. have no medical condition, disorder or impairment that will prevent the effective and safe conduct of their routine and emergency duties on board during thevalidity period of the medical certificate;
    4. are 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 andsafety of other persons on board; and 
    5. are not taking any medication that has side effects that will impair judgment, balance, or any other requirements for effective and safe performance of routineand emergency duties on board.
  2. Medical fitness examinations of seafarers shall be conducted by appropriately qualified and experienced medical practitioners recognized by the Party.
  3. Each Party shall establish provisions for recognizing medical practitioners. A register of recognized medical practitioners shall be maintained by the Party and made available to other Parties, companies and seafarers on request.
  4. Each Party shall provide guidance for the conduct of medical fitness examinations and issuing of medical certificates, taking into account provisions set out in section B-I/9 of this Code. Each Party shall determine the amount of discretion given to recognized medical practitioners on the application of the medical standards, bearing in mind the different duties of seafarers, except that there shall not be discretion with respect to the minimum eyesight standards for distance vision aided, near/immediate vision and colour vision in table A-I/9 for seafarers in the deck department required to undertake look-out duties. A Party may allow discretion on the application of these standards with regard to seafarers in the engine department, on the condition that seafarers’ combined vision fulfils the requirements set out in table A-I/9.
  5. Each Party shall establish processes and procedures to enable seafarers who, after examination, do not meet the medical fitness standards or have had a limitation imposed on their ability to work, in particular with respect to time, field of work or trading area, to have their case reviewed in line with that Party’s provisions for appeal.
  6. The medical certificate provided for in regulation I/9, paragraph 3 shall include the following information as a minimum:
    1. Authorizing authority and the requirements under which the document is issued
    2. Seafarer information
      1.  Name: (Last, first, middle)
      2. Date of birth: (day/month/year)
      3. Gender: (Male/Female)
      4. Nationality
    3. Declaration of the recognized medical practitioner
      1. Confirmation that identification documents were checked at the point of examination: Y/N
      2. Hearing meets the standards in section A-I/9: Y/N
      3. Unaided hearing satisfactory? Y/N
      4. Visual acuity meets standards in section A-I/9? Y/N
      5. Colour vision* meets standards in section A-I/9? Y/N
        1. Date of last colour vision test.
      6. Fit for look-out duties? Y/N
      7. No limitations or restrictions on fitness? Y/N - If “N”, specify limitations or restrictions.
      8. Is the seafarer free 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?: Y/N
      9. Date of examination: (day/month/year)
      10. Expiry date of certificate: (day/month/year)
    4. Details of the issuing authority
      1. Official stamp (including name) of the issuing authority .
      2. Signature of the authorized person
    5. Seafarer’s signature confirming that the seafarer has been informed of the content of the certificate and of the right to a review in accordance with paragraph 6 of section A-I/9
  7. Medical certificates shall be in the official language of the issuing country. If the language used is not English, the text shall include a translation into that language.

*Note: Colour vision assessment only needs to be conducted every six years.


STCW Tables I/9


STCW Table A-I/9 of Chapter I (STCW 2010 Resolution 2)

Minimum in-service eyesight standards for seafarers

STCW Table A-I/9 PDF


STCW Table B-I/9 of Chapter I (STCW 2010 Resolution 2)

Assessment of minimum entry level and in-service physical abilities for seafarers

STCW Table B-I/9 PDF


STCW Section B-I/9 of Chapter I (STCW 2010)

Guidance regarding medical standards

MEDICAL EXAMINATION AND CERTIFICATION



  1. Parties, in establishing seafarer medical fitness standards and provisions, should take into account the minimum physical abilities set out in table B-I/9 and the guidance given within this section, bearing in mind the different duties of seafarers.
  2. Parties, in establishing seafarer medical fitness standards and provisions, should follow the guidance contained in the ILO/WHO publication 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.
  3. Appropriate qualifications and experience for medical practitioners conducting medical fitness examinations of seafarers may include occupational health or maritime health qualifications, experience of working as a ship’s doctor or a shipping company doctor or working under the supervision of someone with the aforementioned qualifications or experience.
  4. The premises where medical fitness examinations are carried out should have the facilities and equipment required to carry out medical fitness examination of seafarers.
  5. Administrations should ensure that recognized medical practitioners enjoy full professional independence in exercising their medical judgement when undertaking medical examination procedures.
  6. Persons applying for a medical certificate should present to the recognized medical practitioner appropriate identity documentation to establish their identity. They should also surrender their previous medical certificate.
  7. Each Administration has the discretionary authority to grant a variance or waiver of any of the standards set out in table B-I/9 hereunder, based on an assessment of a medical evaluation and any other relevant information concerning an individual’s adjustment to the condition and proven ability to satisfactorily perform assigned shipboard functions.
  8. The medical fitness standards should, so far as possible, define objective criteria with regard to fitness for sea service, taking into account access to medical facilities and medical expertise on board ship. They should, in particular, specify the conditions under which seafarers suffering from potentially life-threatening medical conditions that are controlled by medication may be allowed to continue to serve at sea.
  9. The medical standards should also identify particular medical conditions, such as colour blindness, which might preclude seafarers holding particular positions on board ship.
  10. The minimum in-service eyesight standards in each eye for unaided distance vision should be at least 0.1* .
  11. Persons requiring the use of spectacles or contact lenses to perform duties should have a spare pair or pairs, as required, conveniently available on board the ship. Any need to wear visual aids to meet the required standards should be recorded on the medical fitness certificate issued.
  12. Colour vision testing should be in accordance with the International Recommendation for Colour Vision Requirements for Transport, published by the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage (CIE 143-2001 including any subsequent versions) or equivalent test methods.

MUST READ:

STCW Regulation I/9

STCW Regulation I/9 of Chapter I (STCW 2010 Resolution 1)

Medical standards

  1. Each Party shall establish standards of medical fitness for seafarers and procedures for the issue of a medical certificate in accordance with the provisions of this regulation and of section A-I/9 of the STCW Code.
  2. Each Party shall ensure that those responsible for assessing the medical fitness of seafarers are medical practitioners recognized by the Party for the purpose of seafarer medical examinations, in accordance with the provisions of section A-I/9 of the STCW Code.
  3. Every seafarer holding a certificate issued under the provisions of the Convention, who is serving at sea, shall also hold a valid medical certificate issued in accordance with the provisions of this regulation and of section A-I/9 of the STCW Code.
  4. Every candidate for certification shall:
    1. be not less than 16 years of age;
    2. provide satisfactory proof of his/her identity; and
    3. meet the applicable medical fitness standards established by the Party.
  5. Medical certificates shall remain 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.
  6. If the period of validity of a medical certificate expires in the course of a voyage, then the medical certificate shall continue in force until the next port of call where a medical practitioner recognized by the Party is available, provided that the period shall not exceed three months.
  7. In urgent cases the Administration may permit a seafarer to work without a valid medical certificate until the next port of call where a medical practitioner recognized by the Party is available, 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.

Disclaimer: For general information purpose only - please check with IMO STCW Convention for the latest requirements and accurate info

LAST UPDATED ON May 3, 2019

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