Effective April 15, 2009 the U.S. Coast Guard will not process any applications for original or renewal (see below for TWIC exceptions policy) of a license or document to be endorsed in their Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) unless that mariner also possesses a Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) card or has proof that they have applied for a TWIC card.

December 19, 2011. CG-543 Policy Letter 11-15

This new policy allows mariners renewing an exisitng Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) without submitting proof of holding a valid TWIC that work on the following vessels which are not required to have a Vessel Security Plan:

(1) Uninspected passenger vessel of less than 100 gross register tons (GRT) (six-pack boats);

(2) Vessels inspected under 46 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Subchapter T (small inspected passenger vessels of not more than 100 GRT) , except those on international voyages; and

(3) Towing vessels not involved in towing barges inspected under 46 CFR Subchapters D, I or O; and

(4) Towing vessels involved in fleeting, docking, or ship assist. This policy only applies to the renewal of an existing MMC not applications for an original issue MMC.

Mariners renewing an MMC that does not require a TWIC, and do not wish to obtain an renewed TWIC must affirmatively indicate that they do not desire a TWIC and that they understand that name-based processing could significantly delay processing.  Sample statement can be found at this link: TWIC Requirements Sample Statement

All Coast Guard issued licenses and documents must be renewed five years from the original date of issuance or last renewal. Many of the Coast Guard Regional Examination Centers have begun in the past years to add a helpful statement on the face of the license such as: “This License Expires on the 5th day of September 2006.” The Coast Guard allows a license to be renewed up to one year before its expiration date, and up to one year after the expiration date, called the “Grace” period. However, during the Grace period a holder may not legally operate vessels under the license authority.

To renew your MMC license, submit to the Coast Guard a MMC license renewal application, with a new physical examination, a drug test or drug consortium letter, and be able to show 360 days (one year) of service during the past five years. The service must be verified by submitting either proof of vessel ownership, a letter from vessel owner, or company verifying service. Many license holders often find themselves nearing renewal but for whatever reasons do not have the qualifying one year of service. The Coast Guard does allow the licensee to take and pass a comprehensive open-book exercise in lieu of showing the qualifying service. The open-book exercise is mailed out by the Coast Guard to the individual, and they must take the open-book exercise and mail it back to the Coast Guard. The problem many have with taking the open-book exercise renewal route is that they do not possess or have access to the myriad of publications and reference materials necessary to check their answers or to pass the open-book exercise.

If one cannot meet the Coast Guard requirements for renewal, they can choose to renew their license with a “continuity endorsement.” A continuity endorsement allows you to keep the license, but it does not allow you to legally operate vessels under the license authority. To remove the continuity endorsement restrictions requires that the license holder meet the normal renewal requirements.

Alternatives if you do not have one year of sea service in the past five years at the time of MMC renewal:

  1. For Mate, Chief Mate or Master Licenses over 100 Gross Tons to Any Gross Tons, with the STCW 95 Certificate – To renew the license is the same as described above, but to renew the license and to retain the STCW certification requires more. You will need to complete three training courses to renew your License and STCW certificate; (1) Radar Observer Recertification/Renewal (1 day); (2) Basic Safety Training Refresher course (3-days) and; (3) an STCW Deck Officer Refresher course (3 days). If you take our STCW Deck Officer Refresher course, the Coast Guard User Fees would be; Application Evaluation $50, plus MMC Issuance $45. Total MMC Renewal User Fee $95.00.
  2. For License renewals up to Mate or Master of 100 Gross Tons – An alternative at renewal to the service or open-book exercise requirements, is to take and pass a Coast Guard approved License Renewal Refresher training course. For Coast Guard license renewals up to Master of Vessels of 100 Gross Tons, Quality Maritime Training routinely conducts our 7-hour Coast Guard approved license refresher training course.

License Renewal (Every Five years) Coast Guard User Fees:

Application Evaluation

License Issuance

Open-book exercise




$45* (in lieu of service requirements)

Total $140

*You would not pay the User Fee for the open-book exercise if you present a certificate of completion from our 7-hour License Refresher Training course.