Captain’s Licenses: DOT Drug Testing

Navigating Drug Testing: Essential Information for Captain’s License Applicants

Which captain’s licenses require a drug test? 

A drug test is required for all Coast Guard captain’s licenses except endorsements, duplicates, and Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) certificates. Licenses that require a drug test include the OUPV/Six-Pack and 25/50 Ton or 100 Ton Masters captain’s licenses. 


What kind of drug testing does the USCG use for a captain’s license? 

Only a DOT 5 Panel (SAMHSA 5 Panel, formerly NIDA 5) test on form CG-719P for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, and amphetamines will be accepted for a captain’s license. Dangerous drugs, according to the Department of Transportation rules, are marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines.  


WARNING: As marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, it is necessary to test negative for it during your drug test(s), irrespective of whether you possess a medical marijuana card or not.


Only a screening that tests for the five dangerous drugs is accepted. All tests must be conducted in accordance with Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug Testing Programs (TWIC) in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations CFR Part 40. All qualifying random and periodic drug testing programs must also meet these requirements. 


What does the Coast Guard consider dangerous drugs? 

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), dangerous drugs are: 

  • Marijuana 
  • Cocaine 
  • Opiates 
  • Codeine 
  • Morphine C 
  • 6-AM (heroin) 
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) 
  • Amphetamines 
  • Amphetamine 
  • Methamphetamine 
  • MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine) (ecstasy) 
  • MDA (3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine) 
  • MDEA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-ethylamphetamine) 


When am I required to submit proof that I am free of dangerous drugs? 

Proof that you are free of dangerous drugs is required for all transactions EXCEPT increases of scope, duplicates, and international endorsements (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping [STCW]), and Medical Certificates. 





Can I get a captain’s license if I have a medical marijuana card? 

Due to the fact that marijuana is not currently legal at the federal level, even if you have a medical marijuana card in your state, you will not be able to get a captain’s license unless you test negative during your DOT-approved 5-panel drug test.  


Keep in mind that if you plan on using your license professionally, you will need to be enrolled in a random drug testing program that will test for marijuana, too. 


Do I need a drug test to renew my captain’s license? 

A drug test is required for a captain’s license renewal unless you are renewing sailing or assistance towing endorsements, duplicates, or STCW certificates. The specifications are the same as when you apply for a new captain’s license. 


What happens if I fail my USCG captain’s license drug test? 

You cannot be awarded a USCG captain’s license if you fail or do not complete the required drug testing. Once you get your license, a positive drug test will result in removal from your crew duties that directly affect the safe operation of a vessel. 


Mariners who fail drug tests may opt to go to a Suspension and Revocation (S&R) hearing in front of a federal Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing is administrative and concerns only the mariner’s right to continued use of a Coast Guard-issued license or MMD.