Captain’s Licenses: Safety and Suitability

Coast Guard Background Checks: What You Need to Know

Does the Coast Guard perform background checks? 

Every application that requires a safety and suitability evaluation is completed by the Safety and Suitability Evaluation Branch. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the primary source for conducting background investigations. The Code of Federal Regulations is also used to determine the safety and suitability of an applicant. 


The evaluator will determine if the mariner is able to move to the next phase of the process. If the application is missing the required TWIC, citizenship, proof of lawful permanent residence/nationality, or conviction statement, an Awaiting Information (AI) Letter will be sent to the Mariner, which will delay credential issuance. 


Details on Conviction Statements, TWICs, Driving Records, Criminal Records, and ID/Citizenship can be found below. 


Conviction Statement 

Each applicant MUST disclose ALL convictions in Section III of the Application CG-719B (Application) that were not previously disclosed, in addition to completing the Conviction Statement (CG-719C). 




If an applicant pleads guilty to or is given one of the following, in any jurisdiction, they are considered to have received a conviction: 

  • Guilty / no contest 
  • Deferred adjudication 
  • Required class attendance 
  • Contributions of time/money 
  • Receive treatment 
  • Probation/supervision 
  • Forgo appeal of court's conviction 

CAUTION: Expungement of a conviction will not negate a conviction unless the expungement shows that the court's earlier conviction was in error. 


Transportation Worker Identification Credential 

The NMC uses TSA data from a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) as its major source for safety and suitability checks. 


Visit our TWIC Page for more details. 


Driving Record 

All applicants must give their consent to a check of their National Driver Registry (NDR) record for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Reckless Driving convictions. The Coast Guard will consider offenses such as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or reckless driving convictions only within the last three years unless the applicant's driver’s license is currently under suspension or revocation. Prior to the Coast Guard denying the application, the applicant will be supplied with the information found in the NDR check and be given the opportunity to comment. 


Criminal Record 

The applicant’s criminal record will be reviewed for convictions that show evidence of a mariner’s unsuitability for the duties and responsibilities of the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) applied for. 


A safe and suitable person means a person whose prior record, including but not limited to criminal record and / or National Driver Registry record, provides no information indicating that his or her character and habits of life would support the belief that permitting such a person to serve under the MMC sought would clearly be a threat to the safety of life or property, detrimental to good discipline, or adverse to the interests of the United States. See 46 CFR 10.211 & 10.213 for the regulations associated with this definition. 


ID / Citizenship 

Proof of U.S. Citizenship or lawful permanent residence can be submitted to the Coast Guard through the Transportation Security Administration with a TWIC application. If the National Maritime Center does not consider the proof adequate, it may require the applicant to supply additional proof to meet the requirement found in 46 CFR 10.221. Guidance on what information can be submitted to resolve this can be in the Citizenship document.