How to Get a Captain’s License

If you have ever thought about getting a professional Captain’s License here is a short outline of the process.

  1. Document your qualifying experience
  2. Get a TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Credential)
  3. Get a Merchant Mariner physical exam and drug test
  4. Complete the application form 719B requesting an original issuance of a license
  5. Get three letters of recommendation for a Merchant Mariner Officer Endorsement
  6. Complete an American Red Cross or American Heart Association First Aid and CPR course
  7. Deliver the application package to a USCG Regional Exam Center (REC), where you can pay the application fees and take the Merchant Mariner Oath
  8. Then you can take the exams at an REC or complete a USCG approved course

Any questions?


About Dennis

Instructor and Director at Columbia Pacific Maritime LLC
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2 Responses to How to Get a Captain’s License

  1. Bob Orsua says:

    Hi Dennis:   A couple of questions. I already have a OUPV inland restricted CG license. I plan on taking the OUPV 6 pack near coastal this winter. I already have a TWIC card and a active license. What forms will I need to fill out to do this upgrade. I do have the First Aid requirements etc.  I am thinking the documented sea time, current physical, drug test? Do I need to hand deliver this application to the CG office in Portland? Also do you have a pack it of books and study material I can purchase before hand so I can study?   Sincerely; Bob Orsua  

  2. Dennis says:


    For the upgrade of the restricted OUPV license you will need to complete the small vessel sea service form 719S documenting 360 days of experience that includes 90 days of ocean waters, the application form 719B, get a physical exam using form 719K, and get a drug screening as described in form 719P.

    Since you already hold a license you do not need to take the Merchant Mariner Oath, provide letters of character reference, or provide prof of First Aid/CPR training.

    The application package must be delivered to an REC, but can be mailed, faxed, emailed, or delivered in person to any one of the 17 REC around the nation.

    You will be required to complete four exams; chart navigation, navigation general, Rules of the Road, and deck general safety and environmental protection. Chapman’s is a good single source for study material; you should be familiar with the US Coast Pilot and the Light List; The American Practical Navigator (Bowditch) is the best source for navigation; and the Navigation Rules is the best source for the Rules of the Road.

    You can also purchase my OUPV class workbook online for $50 and if you bring it to class I will discount the class by the cost of the workbook. I also provide a free study guide online that contains some basic information to get you started.

    Good Luck and please let me know if I can do anything for you.


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