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A Guide to UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) Certificate of Competency (CoC) Requirements for UK and Non-UK Seafarers

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Founded in 2002, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is an executive agency of the Department for Transport (DfT) UK and implements the UK government's maritime safety policy in the UK and works to prevent the loss of life on the coast and at sea. MCA also inspect and survey ships to ensure that they are meeting UK and international safety rules, provide certification to seafarers, register vessels and respond to pollution from shipping and offshore installations.

MCA Certificate of Competency (CoC) is a license issued to navigation officers and engineer officers and it complies with the International convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) established by International Maritime Organisation (IMO). MCA Issues Certificates of Competency - for Deck Officers and Marine Engineer Officers in the Merchant Navy; for Deck Officers and Marine Engineer Officers for Fishing Vessels; for Yacht Engineer Officer; and Certificates of Equivalent Competency (CEC) for UK Merchant Ships and Fishing Vessels.

How to Obtain a UK Certificate of Competency (CoC)?

Those who work in merchant navy vessels, commercially and privately operated yachts and sail training vessels, and workboats and tugs can apply for their Certificate of Competency (CoC) by applying to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and provide:

  • Sea service testimonials
  • Valid medical fitness certificate
  • Discharge book or certificates of discharge
  • Certified copy of passport
  • Applicable ancillary course certificates
  • Evidence of completion of MCA approved training and education courses

How to Obtain a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC)?

Non-UK qualified officers who want to work in a UK registered commercial vessels can apply for Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) provided they hold an equivalent STCW certificate of competency (CoC) from a country whose standards of competency and training are considered equal to those of the UK.

 There are no nationality restrictions on officers or crew sailing on UK vessels, except masters of strategic vessels. Your CEC will contain the same limitations as your original CoC but in some cases there can be differences in coastal, motor ship and steamship limitations. For Yacht certificates not all the countries are accepted as equivalent. They should provide evidence of Standards of competency, Ability to use the English language (this may include an oral exam), and Knowledge of UK law relating to the job. Requirements include -

  • Non-UK certificate of competency
  • Original CEC if already held (proof of competency in English language and passport don’t need to be re-submitted if you have this)
  • Passport or discharge book
  • Evidence of knowledge of English language
  • GMDSS certificate for Deck Officers.

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Last updated: June 15, 2018

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