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Deck FAQs

How do I apply for a Certificate of Competency?
Where can I obtain an application form?
How much does a Certificate of Competency cost?
How long will it take to process my application?
When will the fee be processed?
What would happen if the payment is not included with my application or the payment is rejected?
Will I receive a receipt for my payment?
How can I check the progress of my application?
What information do I need to check my application online?
When I submit the missing documentation will my application be dealt with immediately?
What is an SDS number?
What does the abbreviation ‘QCM date’ mean?
What are the criteria for Sea ServiceTestimonials/Watchkeeping Certificates?
Where can I obtain a template for a Sea Service Testimonial/Watchkeeping Certificate?
Where can I get a template of a testimonial for a fishing vessel and what information needs to be included?
Can I send my application before I have completed the required Sea Service?
Where can I get a Medical Fitness Certificate from, and how long is it valid for?
Where can I obtain a Sight test form?
Where can I obtain a Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) Training Record Book?
Where can I find an MCA-approved short course training provider?
Which countries' Short Courses Certificates do you accept?
Are all short courses valid indefinitely?
Is a Medical Care Certificate valid indefinitely?
Can I send in my short course certificates at a later date?
Can I book my oral examination before I receive my Notice of Eligibility?
When and how do I apply for an oral examination?
Can I hold two Deck Notices of Eligibility at the same time if they are for different examinations?
Does a Notice of Eligibility have an expiry date?
Is a pass Notice of Eligibility valid indefinitely?
What do I do when I have passed my oral examination?
I have passed my oral examination, how long will I have to wait to receive my Certificate of Competency?
After passing all the requirements when applying for my new certificate of competency, do I need to submit my lower certificate of competency?
What do I need to do if I should fail my oral examination?
If I should fail my oral examination, can I re-take my oral examination straight away?
Do you accept Tanker Familiarisation Courses or Tanker Safety Courses from outside the United Kingdom?
Do MCA approved Tanker Safety or Tanker Familiarisation Certificates have an expiry date?
Do I need to provide Sea Service Testimonials for a Specialist Tanker Training Endorsement?
Are all yacht short courses valid indefinitely?
Where can I obtain a Training Record Book for Yachtsmen?
Does my Yacht Training Record Book have to be submitted with my application for my Notice of Eligibility?
Is there an Oral examination from Class 1 Fishing to Officer of the Watch Unlimited Certificate?
Do I need to complete an application form to upgrade from a Class 1 Fishing Certificate to OOW Unlimited?
What are the most common reasons why an application would be considered incomplete?

How do I apply for a Certificate of Competency?
A list of relevant Marine Guidance Notes containing all the information you will need is available. You can download an application form from this web site or contact our customer helpline on +44 (0)2380 329 231 for an application form or for advice. Our email address is deck@mcga.gov.uk.

For the issue of a Notice of Eligibility to take an Oral Examination, you will need to submit:

  • A fully completed Application form. Please ensure you send in all the documentation required for your type of application, the application form contains instruction for the certificates and documents needed. Please ensure you have entered the relevant Sea Service on the form
  • Passport or Birth Certificate
  • Discharge Book or Certificates of Discharge
  • Watchkeeping Certificates and Sea Service Testimonials
  • Two Passport Photographs (attested)
  • Valid Medical Fitness Certificate, which must include a sight test
  • VQ letter for Cadet & Chief Mate applications if applicable

If you are unsure what documents to submit please contact our customer helpline on +44 (0)2380 329 231 for advice, or send an email request to deck@mcga.gov.uk.

Where can I obtain an application form?
You can download an application form from our website, or you can contact our customer helpline on +44 (0)2380 329 231 or send an email request to deck@mcga.gov.uk.

How much does a Certificate of Competency cost?
You can download our current fee structure from this site.

How long will it take to process my application?
The Service Standard for processing an application is up to 28 days.

When will the fee be processed?
The fee for an application will be processed within a few days of the application having been received.

What would happen if the payment is not included with my application or the payment is rejected?
If the required payment is not included with your application, or if the payment is rejected, it will be considered incomplete and this will delay your application. When the fee is received your application will be assessed within the Service Standard of 28 days.

Will I receive a receipt for my payment?
No, we do not automatically issue a receipt for the payment received. If you do require a receipt please send a letter with your application form requesting that a receipt be issued or, if you have already submitted your application, please send an email requesting a receipt to deck@mcga.gov.uk.

How can I check the progress of my application?
Y
ou can check the status of your applications by calling the Seafarer Training & Certification Customer helpline on +44 (0)2380 329 231 or email deck@mcga.gov.uk.

What information do I need to check my application online?
You will be required to enter your name, your date of birth and the form number from the right hand side of your application form. The application checker is case sensitive. If any information is entered incorrectly you will not get a result.

When I submit the missing documentation will my application be dealt with immediately?
No. If your application did not include all the required documentation it would have been considered incomplete. When the required documents are received it will be processed in date order and within the service standard of 28 days from receipt of all of the documents.

What is an SDS number?
SDS stands for Seafarer Documentation System. Each seafarer is allocated a unique number when they make an application for a Certificate of Competency or discharge book. This number will be quoted in any correspondence we send you; it is very helpful if you use this number when contacting us.

What does the abbreviation ‘QCM date’ mean?
The abbreviation “QCM date” stands for “Qualifying Conditions Met” date. This is the date that you completed your last qualification or examination that is needed to gain your Certificate of Competency. For example Mr Smith completed his last required qualification, “Signals Certificate”, for his Chief Mate Certificate of Competency on 22/03/2004 so his QCM date would be 22/03/2004. Any sea service for a subsequent certificate will be counted from this date.

What are the criteria for Sea ServiceTestimonials/Watchkeeping Certificates?
All testimonials/Watchkeeping Certificates must be on ship or company headed paper and give appropriate contact details; be stamped with the ship or company stamp; be signed by the Master or another authorised person in the company and must state all leave of absences, watchkeeping service and duties whilst on board.
All vessels that use a rota system for leave must have the rota details on Sea Service Testimonials. For example, '7 days on 2 days off'.

Where can I obtain a template for a Sea Service Testimonial/Watchkeeping Certificate?
MGN 91 contains templates for testimonials.

Where can I get a template of a testimonial for a fishing vessel and what information needs to be included?
A template for a testimonial is located in MGN 91, however a letter from your Skipper on company headed paper will be acceptable. This must include dates of employment with dates of voyages, details of the rota that was followed, capacity worked, watchkeeping duties, areas of operation and length and tonnage of vessels.

Can I send my application before I have completed the required Sea Service?
No, you should not make an application for a Notice of Eligibility before you have completed the required Sea Service. Your application will be considered as being incomplete which could result in your application being rejected.

Where can I get a Medical Fitness Certificate from, and how long is it valid for?
The UK Medical Fitness Certificate is the 'ENG 1'. For a list of approved doctors in the UK and abroad, and a list of acceptable overseas Medical Fitness Certificates, please read our medical notices.
UK Medical Fitness Certificates issued after 01/09/02 are normally valid for two years, unless the Doctor states a lesser period.
Further medical information can be found on the web pages of our Seafarer Health and Safety Branch.

Where can I obtain a Sight test form?
You can get a Sight Test form from your local Marine Office.

Where can I obtain a Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) Training Record Book?
You can only use a MNTB Training Record Book if you are following an approved course of training through a college. The college will issue you with the required Record Book.

Where can I find an MCA-approved short course training provider?
For a list of Maritime & Coastguard Agency approved training providers please contact our Customer Helpdesk on +44 (0)2380 329 231. Alternatively please send an email to deck@mcga.gov.uk.
Please clearly state the name of the course and the geographical area within which you would prefer the training provider to be located.

Which countries' Short Courses Certificates do you accept?
Basic Training: We accept certificates from all countries on the STCW White List.
Advanced Training: Medical First Aid, Advanced Fire Fighting, Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boats and Medical Care are acceptable from India, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Pakistan, South Africa and all European Union (EU) member states.

Are all short courses valid indefinitely?
No: Signals certificates are valid for 3 years. HND examinations are valid for 7 years and SQA examinations are valid for 3 years. All these certificates must be in date at the time your Certificate of Competency is issued.

Is a Medical Care Certificate valid indefinitely?
Yes, however all candidates applying for master or chief mate certification must have successfully completed an MCA-approved medical care training programme, meeting the standards laid down in STCW Code A-VI/4-2, within the preceding 5 years.
The master and any other person in charge of medical care on a UK flag vessel will be required to undertake refresher training in Proficiency in Medical Care every 5 years. Please consult MGN 96.

Can I send in my short course certificates at a later date?
Short course certificates are not required for assessing eligibility but are required before the issue of your Certificate of Competency. If you do not submit your ancillary certificates with your application they will be requested on the reverse of your Notice of Eligibility.

Can I book my oral examination before I receive my Notice of Eligibility?
No, you are not eligible to take the oral examination until you have received your Notice of Eligibility.

When and how do I apply for an oral examination?
You should wait until you have received your Notice of Eligibility before contacting your local Marine Office to arrange a convenient time and date for your oral examination.

Can I hold two Deck Notices of Eligibility at the same time if they are for different examinations?
No, candidates are only allowed to hold one Deck Notice of Eligibility at any one time. However, if you are a ‘dual candidate’ you may hold a Deck Notice of Eligibility and an Engineering Notice of Eligibility at the same time.

Does a Notice of Eligibility have an expiry date?
Yes, Notices of Eligibility are valid for a maximum of 5 years from the date of issue.

Is a pass Notice of Eligibility valid indefinitely?
The SQA written examinations, the MCA oral examination and the Signals examination (where applicable) MUST be passed within the 3 year period prior to the date of issue of a certificate of competency. The HND Certificate of Achievement, or an equivalent, will remain valid towards the issue of a certificate of competency for a period of 7 years.

What do I do when I have passed my oral examination?
Complete the relevant parts of the Notice of Eligibility (NOE). Please note that you must complete and sign the declaration, if this is not signed we will not be able to issue the Certificate of Competency (COC). Check on the reverse of the NOE for any documentation you need to send in with the pass NOE. If this documentation is not included a COC cannot be issued. Do not forget to return your current UK COC if you hold one because this must be cancelled before a further COC can be issued.
Return the NOE and above documents to The Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Seafarer Training & Certification Branch, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Rd, Southampton, SO15 1EG.

I have passed my oral examination, how long will I have to wait to receive my Certificate of Competency?
From when we receive your pass Notice of Eligibility (NOE) and all relevant documentation it can take up to 14 days to issue the Certificate of Competency.

After passing all the requirements when applying for my new certificate of competency, do I need to submit my lower certificate of competency?
If your lower Certificate of Competency is a UK Certificate of Competency you must return the certificate for cancellation before your new Certificate can be issued.

What do I need to do if I should fail my oral examination?
You need to complete the reverse side of your Notice of Eligibility (NOE) and return the NOE to The Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Seafarer Training & Certification Branch, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Rd, SO15 1EG with the re-sit fee.

If I should fail my oral examination, can I re-take my oral examination straight away?
No, you are allowed three attempts with a two week period between each oral examination. There is a three month period for the fourth and subsequent oral examinations.

Do you accept Tanker Familiarisation Courses or Tanker Safety Courses from outside the United Kingdom?
All Tanker Familiarisation and Tanker Safety Courses must be issued by an MCA approved course provider or EU member states.

Do MCA approved Tanker Safety or Tanker Familiarisation Certificates have an expiry date?
Yes, all tanker training must have been completed in the five years prior to your application and must be in date at the time when your Specialist Tanker Training Endorsement is issued.

Do I need to provide Sea Service Testimonials for a Specialist Tanker Training Endorsement?
Yes, the Testimonial must contain information regarding the type of vessel and full details of the cargo carried eg. crude oil, fuel oil or naphtha. “Oil” or “Chemical” is not acceptable as they do not provide enough information. Also, the Sea Service must have been within the last 5 years.

Are all yacht short courses valid indefinitely?
No. Medical Care and Medical First Aid are valid for 5 years. All candidates applying for master or chief mate certification must have successfully completed an MCA-approved medical care training programme, meeting the standards laid down in STCW Code A-VI/4-2, within the preceding 5 years.
The master and any other person in charge of medical care on a UK flag vessel will be required to undertake refresher training in Proficiency in Medical Care every 5 years. Please consult MGN 96.
Business & Law, Construction & Stability, General Ship Knowledge and Navigation are all only valid for 3 years. All these certificates must be in date at the time when your Certificate of Competency is issued.

Where can I obtain a Training Record Book for Yachtsmen?
You can obtain a Training Record Book from your training provider or you can download it from our web site.

Does my Yacht Training Record Book have to be submitted with my application for my Notice of Eligibility?
Yes. We need to verify that you have completed your Yacht Training Record Book during your 36 months Yacht service. Your application will be delayed if the Training Book is not submitted with your application or has not been completed correctly.

Is there an Oral examination from Class 1 Fishing to Officer of the Watch Unlimited Certificate?
No there isn’t. The syllabus has already been covered in the Class 1 Fishing exams. All other holders of Fishing Certificates of Competency must pass an oral examination to obtain an Officer of the Watch Unlimited Certificate.

Do I need to complete an application form to upgrade from a Class 1 Fishing Certificate to OOW Unlimited?
Yes, this is because the form contains important information and assists with processing your application.

What are the most common reasons why an application would be considered incomplete?

  • Full payment not received or payment rejected
  • Sea Service testimonials/Watchkeeping Certificates not enclosed
  • There is a deficiency in the required Sea Service or Sea Service has been completed incorrectly on the application form
  • Application form not fully completed
  • Counter signatory has not attested the passport photographs
  • The photographs are of an incorrect size or are of poor quality
  • Declaration not signed and dated
  • Originals of required documents are not submitted