Certificate of Competency- Application Procedure

MCA New Guidance min 690



Your application is for an oral exam leading to a UK certificate of competency (CoC) issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

A UK CoC meets the applicable standards of training certification and watchkeeping (STCW) requirements.

Application forms and guidance notes are available for deck and engineer officers working on:

  • merchant navy vessels
  • commercially and privately operated yachts and sail training vessels
  • workboats and tugs

Application process and contacts

Submitting your application

MIN 655 gives detail on the current process for those applying to the MCA for certification.

Read the guidance notes in the application form to make sure you’ve filled in all the correct information. Check that you have the required certificates and qualifications and that you’ve got the paperwork you need to support your application. You’ll need to supply original copies of documents and certificates unless it states otherwise.

You must submit the following items with your application form:

  • certified copy of passport (and visa if applicable)
  • discharge book or certificates of discharge
  • sea service testimonials
  • 2 passport size photos (countersigned)
  • medical fitness certificate ENG 1 or a recognised non UK equivalent This can be expired but must show that you were medically fit to sail
  • fee to be paid following the link on the application form

The application form also specifies the additional documents you’ll need to supply either with your application or before your CoC can be issued. These will include:

  • applicable ancillary course certificates
  • evidence of completion of MCA approved training and education courses

First time applicants should post your application, supporting documents :

Seafarer Training and Certification Branch
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG

All other applicants should where possible make their application via email to the relevant processing team, including scans of the required supporting documents.

Some applicants may be requested to submit their original documents in support of their application. Should your application be selected for this screening, or should we require to see original documentation for other reasons, you will be contacted requesting the submission of original documentation

The MCA aims to process your NoE application within 28 days of receipt. You’ll receive an email:

  • when your application has been received
  • if any further information/evidence is needed
  • when your certificate(s) and documents are being couriered back to you
  • when your NoE is issued

Notice of eligibility (NOE) and oral exam

If you are required to take an oral exam you’ll need to obtain an NOE. An NOE will be issued if your application is in order and you meet the sea time requirements. NOEs are valid for 5 years.

The NOE allows you to book an oral exam our oral exam using the Online Booking Service. More information on this new process can be found in MIN 675

Any further documentary evidence or certificates you’ll need to submit before the issue of your CoC can be found in the relevant M Notices, and in our guidance pages

It’s recommended that you complete all education and training before sitting your oral exam.

You can find more information about the oral exam syllabus in MIN 653 Amendment 1 for Deck Officers MIN 654 Amendment 1 for Engineering Officers and ETOs

Oral exam results and issue of CoC

Your exam result will be recorded on our system. You will be provided with an email confirming your Oral Exam result. An oral pass result is valid for 3 years so make sure all your certificates are valid when you apply for issue of your CoC. MCA aims to issue a CoC within 14 days of receiving your application and any outstanding documents. A CoC is valid for seagoing service for 5 years. If you’re a deck officer you should submit your GMDSS certificate with your NOE pass so that your endorsement expiry date can be synchronised with the date on your CoC. If you fail your exam you can apply for a re-sit. You’ll be provided instructions in your Oral outcome email.

Contact MCA

Contact the Seafarer training and certification branch at MCA if you’ve got any queries about your application or exam.

Email: deck@mcga.gov.uk
Email: revalidation@mcga.gov.uk
Email: exams@mcga.gov.uk

The MCA doesn’t offer a counter service.

Application forms and guidance notes

Deck officers

Merchant navy

Use form MSF 4274 below to apply for an oral examination leading to the issue of a CoC for masters, chief mates and deck officers in the merchant navy

You can also use this form to get an upgrade from:

  • OOW (unlimited) to chief mate (less than 3000 GT)
  • chief mate (unlimited) to master (less than 3000 GT unlimited or more than 3000 GT near coastal).


  • MSF 4274 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of a certificate of competency (STCW) for masters, chief mates and deck officers in the merchant navy

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MSN 1856 (M) below.


Commercial and private yachts

For information on Yacht CoCs for Deck Officers, please see the Guidance Page, Certification for Deck Officers on Commercial and Private yachts.

Using yacht sea service towards a merchant navy application

Use form MSF 4274 above to apply for an oral examination leading to the issue of a CoC for masters, chief mates and deck officers in the merchant navy. You must complete your sea service on page 9 of the application form.

Further information about yacht sea service is available in MSN 1858 (M) Amendment 1 below.


  • MSN 1858 (M) Amendment 1 Seafarer training and certification: using yacht sea service towards unlimited merchant navy CoC applicat

Small vessels

Please download and complete the following application form:

  • MSF 4900 – Application for engineering small vessel CoC

Please see MSN 1904 and MIN 642 for detailed guidance.

Electro technical officer (ETO)

Use form MSF 4259 below to apply for your ETO CoC.


  • MSF 4259 Application for an oral exam leading to the issue of an STCW electro technical officer (ETO) certificates of competency (CoC)

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note MSN 1860 (M) below.


  • MSN 1860 Amendment 1 Training & certification guidance: UK requirements for electro-technical officers.

Workboats and tugs

Master workboat less than 500 GT

Use form MSF 4257 below to apply for your master workboat less than 500 GT CoC.


  • MSF 4257 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of certificate of competency (STCW) for master workboat less than 500 GT

Further information about training and certification is available in MGN 496 (M+F) below.


Masters and deck officers of tugs

Use form MSF 4260 below to apply for your master or deck officer of tugs CoC.


  • MSF 4260 Application for an oral examination leading to the issue of a certificate of competency (STCW) for masters and deck officers of tugs

Further information about training and certification is available in the marine guidance note [MGN 495 (M+F)] (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-495-certificate-of-competency-tug-deck) below.


  • MGN 495 (M+F) Certificate of competency for master and officer of the watch tug less than 500 GT and 3000 GT near coastal and certificate of proficiency for tug rating

Engineer tug certificate scheme

Certification for tug engineers through the Vocational Qualification (VQ) route is now closed. A new tug engineer scheme will take in the legislation and guidance that brings the STCW 2010 amendments into force.

In the meantime it’s been agreed between MCA and the British Tug Association to use the interim tug engineer certification scheme below to gain tug engineer certification.


Use form MSF 4278 to apply for your engineer tug officer CoC.

Revalidation and replacement of CoCs

Revalidation of CoC

Please see our detailed guidance on how to revalidate a UK CoC.

Replacement of your CoC or CEC

If you lose your CoC or CEC – through theft, loss or destruction – you must report it to the police. You can apply for a replacement using form MSF 4299 below. Attach a copy of the Police report to your application.


MSF 4299 Application for the replacement of a certificate of competency or certificate of equivalent competency.

If your lost certificate has also expired you should also apply for a revalidation.

Special training

Further training and certification is needed if you work on:

  • tankers
  • high-speed craft (including hovercraft)
  • passenger ships

Find forms and guidance on training in ‘Special training for ratings and officers’