Captain's Application Process Overview

Who issues the U.S. captain's license?

The National Maritime Center (NMC) is the division of the Coast Guard who is responsible for evaluating and issuing credentials in accordance with the statues and regulations which govern the Merchant Mariner Credentialing (MMC) program. 


How does the captain’s license application process go?  

Once you have passed your final proctored exam and have received your MLS Certificate of Completion, you will be required to submit an application package to the NMC.


NOTE: Although everyone calls the final document a "Captain's License", the NMC refers to it as a Merchant Marine Credential (NMC). 


The MMC application package must be submitted to your local Regional Examination Center (REC) in person, by mail or electronically.  


WARNING: Do NOT submit your application package directly to the NMC as this WILL delay your application.  


If your application is not complete, you may receive and Awaiting Information (AI) email and/or letter requesting more information from the REC. 


In most cases, fees are required for MMC transactions and our Captain's License Application Fees page has information on submitting payment, general questions and refunds. 


In general, most applications are evaluated for Safety & SuitabilityMedical Certificate and Professional Qualification (Sea Service) items. 


After your application has been evaluated and approved you will receive an email and/or letter notification indicating that your license is on its way! 


Watch this video on the application process. 


Where do I find the application forms?  

You can find all the license application forms and the license checklist through our Self Help Desk.


How can I tell if I have the old or new forms?  

Application Forms Expiration DateIf you look on the top right of the forms, there will be an expiration date.


This will tell you how long the forms are good for.  


I passed my exam, what is my next step? 

Congratulations! Once you pass our proctored exam, you will receive a Mariners Learning System certificate recognized by the United States Coast Guard.  


Simply submit, within one year, the original certificate along with your application package and applicable fees to the USCG Regional Exam Center. Upon their approval of your package, they will send you your original license.  


Here is a video that explains the process.  


Do I need to submit Character Reference Letters? 

Character Reference Letters are NO longer required. This was an old requirement that the Coast Guard has gotten rid of. 


Which forms do I need to submit for my Deck License Renewal?  

You will need to submit the following forms if you are renewing your current Deck level captain’s license:  

  • Complete the USCG License Renewal Application (Form CG-719B) 
  • Have a Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC Card) 
  • Pass a Physical Examination 
  • Take a DOT Drug Test. If you are currently enrolled in a DOT approved random drug testing program you will not be required to take a new drug test for license renewal. 
  • You DO NOT need First Aid & CPR cards to renew your license 


You do not need to submit a CPR/First Aid card, but you will need to have a current one when working with your license.  


We recommend submitting a copy of your current credentials too, this makes it easier on the Coast Guard when reviewing your packet.  


I don’t want to do the application forms myself, can I pay someone to do them on my behalf? 

While Mariners Learning System can help answer basic questions, like where to go or what to fill out, we cannot complete your application on your behalf.  


If you want to hire a third party to assist with your application process, we recommend Mark Grossetti. He is a premiere maritime license consultant since 1979.  


A retired U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander with over 19 years of active-duty marine safety experience, and then over 20 years in business as a maritime license consultant. Licensing experience ranging from before Regional Exam Centers were established in 1982 through today's complex requirements. One of an elite few nationally recognized experts who has experienced all the numerous licensing changes over the past three decades. Has assisted with thousands of license transactions for clients across the country including the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, USVI, and 49 states (only missing North Dakota!). 


He can:

  • Review your entire license/document application package for completeness 
  • Submit your application package to the USCG for approval by that agency 
  • Give you peace of mind before you write out that check for evaluation fees to the USCG 
  • No consulting service too big or too small 
  • Flat-rate fees "per transaction"; not charged "per hour" 
  • Fees vary depending on transaction type, complexity of your submittal, and level of license desired 


You can contact him via and/or 508-879-3910.  


Most applicants handle submitting on their own, but these types of services are out there (normally for those who have unique situations).