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MCA Master Certificate of Competency Requirements for UK and Non-UK Seafarers Serving UK Registered Commercial Vessels

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A Master Certificate of Competence (CoC) is the licence required for someone to serve as the Captain of a commercial vessel of any size, of any type, operating anywhere in the world. The Merchant Shipping (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Regulations 2015, implement the requirements of the International Convention and Code on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW) 1978, as amended including the provisions prescribing the mandatory minimum requirements for the certification of Masters.

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You may also read: International Maritime Organization (IMO) STCW requirements for Master

UK MCA General Requirements for Master CoC


  • Meet the minimum age requirement
  • Complete the minimum period of seagoing service
  • A valid ENG1 (medical fitness certificate) or accepted equivalent
  • Hold applicable ancillary and safety course certificates
  • Complete the appropriate education and training meeting the minimum vocational and academic standard
  • If applicable, pass an oral examination conducted by MCA

MCA Master Unlimited (STCW II/2) Requirements

  • Hold a valid Chief Mate Unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency
  • Have completed 36 months watchkeeping service while holding OOW unlimited II/1, Certificate of Competency. This period may be reduced to 24 months if at least 12 months of such seagoing service has been served as Chief Mate while holding a Chief Mate unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency
  • Pass MCA oral examination A

Non-UK CoC Master Unlimited (STCW II/2) Requirements

  • To qualify for the issue of a UK Master unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency, you must already hold a valid Chief Mate unlimited, II/2, or Master unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency issued under the authority of an Administration included in the IMO list of STCW parties (White List) and meet the full requirements for Chief Mate unlimited, II/2, and Master unlimited, II/2
  • Please note you will only need to pass the MCA oral examination A

MCA Master Less Than 3000 GT Unlimited (STCW II/2) Requirements

  • Hold a valid Chief Mate Unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency
  • Have 36 months watchkeeping service while holding OOW Unlimited, II/1, Certificate of Competency; this may be reduced to a minimum of 24 months if at least 12 months of seagoing service has been served as Chief Mate

MCA Master Unlimited Tonnage Near-Coastal (STCW II/2) Requirements

  • Hold a valid Chief Mate unlimited GT, near-coastal, II/2, Certificate of Competency or a Chief Mate unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency
  • Have completed 36 months watchkeeping service including at least 18 months watchkeeping service performed holding a Chief Mate unlimited GT, near-coastal, II/2, Certificate of Competency or a Chief Mate unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency.
  • This may be reduced to 24 months watchkeeping service if at least 12 months watchkeeping service was carried out in the capacity of Chief Mate while holding a Chief Mate unlimited GT, near-coastal, II/2, Certificate of Competency or Chief Mate unlimited, II/2, Certificate of Competency

MCA Master Less Than 500 GT Near-Coastal (STCW II/3) Requirements

  • Be at least 20 years of age
  • Hold a valid OOW unlimited, II/1, Certificate of Competence or OOW less than 500 GT, near-coastal trading area, II/3, Certificate of Competence
  • Have completed 12 months’ watchkeeping service while holding a regulation II/3 or II/1 Certificate of Competency
  • Pass MCA oral examination D

MCA Master Hovercraft Less than 500 GT Near-Coastal (STCW II/3) Requirements

If you hold an OOW unlimited, II/1 Certificate of Competency

  • Hold a valid High Speed Craft (HSC) hovercraft type-rating certificate
  • Pass MCA oral examination D

If you hold an MCA-accepted UK qualification as Master of hovercraft

  • Hold a valid High Speed Craft (HSC) hovercraft type-rating certificate
  • Hold the applicable ancillary and safety course certificates
  • Hold a valid GMDSS ROC
  • Pass MCA oral examination D

If you hold a Chief Mate (II/2 and II/3) or Master (II/2 and II/3) Certificate of Competency you may upgrade without examination subject to

  • Hold a UK qualification as Master of hovercraft or valid HSC hovercraft type-rating certificate

Master Less Than 3000 GT Specified Trading Area (STCW II/3) Requirements


  • Be at least 20 of age
  • Hold a Master less than 500 GT, II/3, Certificate of Competency
  • Have completed 12 months watchkeeping service in the specified area while holding an OOW less than 500 GT, near-coastal, II/3, Certificate of Competency
  • Pass MCA oral examination H

Master Ancillary and Safety Course Certification Requirements

courses training master cm oow
Table: Ancillary and Safety Course Certification for Master - Credits: MCA

  1. The MCA will accept certificates issued under the authority of any IMO 'White List' country.
  2. The MCA will accept certificates issued under the authority of any EU Member State, as well as Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
  3. Certificates must be MCA-approved.
  4. The MCA will accept certificates issued under the authority of any EU Member State and those listed on the approved list.

Disclaimer: For general information purpose - please check with MCA for the latest requirements and accurate info

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