25/50 or 100 Ton Masters General Information

What is a general overview of the 25/50/100 Ton Masters? 

The USCG Masters license is the highest-level license that you can acquire. This license allows you to operate inspected vessels (7 passengers or more – like a water taxi or dive boat) or uninspected vessels. 


Masters Overview

The USCG does not require that you get a Six-Pack license before you get your Masters, so if you qualify, you can skip the Six-Pack and go straight to your Masters! 


Where can the Masters captain’s license be issued for operation?   

 The Masters license can be issued for operation on the Great Lakes, Inland, and on Near Coastal waterways. The license comes in three versions: 25, 50, or 100 ton. Both the amount of sea service time and the size of the vessels you have been on will influence the license you are eligible for.   


Here is our one-minute guide on How to Get Your 25/50/100 Ton Master License.


How does the Coast Guard determine where and tonnage of the captain’s license I get?   

Both the amount of sea service time and the size of the vessels you have been on will influence the license you are eligible for.   


The Coast Guard will look at your submitted sea service form and base the license off your experience.   


Which tonnage Masters license do I qualify for?  

As for the size of the Masters license you will receive that will be dependent on you experience.   

  • If you have a minimum of 360 days on a 17 gross ton vessel you will receive a 50 Ton Masters level license
  • If you have a minimum of 360 days on a 34 gross ton vessel you will receive a 100 Ton Masters level license
  • And if you have a minimum of 360 days on vessels less than 17 gross ton vessel you will receive a 25 Ton Masters level license

The Coast Guard will review your entire sea service form to determine the tonnage.  


What are examples of inspected vessels?   

Ferry boats, harbor tour boats, sailing schooners, dive boats, and whale watching boats are all examples of inspected vessels that require a Masters license.  Many of your commercial vessels will be inspected with a Certificate of Inspection (COI). 


How big is a 25/50/100 Ton vessel?   

These are generalizations but are useful guides:

  • A 25-ton vessel can be 40-65 feet depending on how its built.
  • A 50-ton vessel can be 50-70 feet depending on the type of vessel and material it is built with
  • A 100-ton vessel can be 65 feet or more depending on its construction and commercial uses

How do I upgrade from a 50 Ton to a 100 Ton Masters license?   

To upgrade from a 50 to 100 Ton Masters inland license, you need to be able to document either or of the following sea service requirements: 90 days (25%) of service on vessels of 51 GRT or above OR 180 days (50%) of service on vessels of 34 GRT or above.  


To upgrade from a 50 to 100 Ton Masters near coastal license, you need to be able to document either or of the following sea service requirements: 180 days (25%) of service on vessels of 51 GRT or above OR 360 days (50%) of service on vessels of 34 GRT or above. 


How to upgrade from an Inland Masters to Near Coastal Masters license?   

There is no written requirement if you are increasing tonnage within your scope of operation of the Masters level license.   


There IS a written requirement if you plan to go from an Inland Masters to a Near Coastal Masters.   


If your current license is an OUPV Inland, you must increase to an OUPV Near Coastal prior to increasing the Masters Inland to Near Coastal. An OUPV Inland license can be upgraded to a OUPV Near Coastal license with 90 days experience seawards of the boundary line. In addition, there is an extra testing you will need to take. We do not offer this, but if you call the Coast Guard at (888) 427-5662, they will be able to help you.   


You can complete these two steps the same time OR just take care of the OUPV first, then Masters later.   


Once your OUPV is a near coastal, you need to take the Masters Upgrade course and exam again. In additional, you must provide the additional sea time to the Coast Guard.   


Can I get a 25 Ton Masters if I don’t have time on that size vessel?   

You need time on at least a 5 HP engine and no greater than 200 GRT. You can get a 25 Ton Masters even if you do not have time on a 25 Ton vessel.   


What endorsements can I attach to my Masters captain’s license?   

You can attach the Assistance Towing Endorsement and/or the Auxiliary Sailing Endorsement to a Masters license.  


Is the Masters captain’s license internationally recognized?   

The Masters captain’s license is internationally recognized. This means you can use this license when operating in international waters. However, you must start and end your trip within United States waters with the same paying passengers. This is an extremely important note to remember.


TIP: Reach out to the other countries you plan on operating in to see if they have additional licenses you must get. 


Here is a short video that will give you additional information on this license.