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Merchant Mariner

Kentucky’s waterways play an important role in the transportation of goods through and alongside the border of several states. To operate a marine vessel such as a tug or ferry within these waterways, an individual must first obtain their MMC (Merchant Marine Credentials). The simplest route to obtaining an MMC would be to secure employment with a marine transportation and harbor services company. These companies, in addition to guiding an applicant through the many obstacles of obtaining a license, can also assist with substantiating sea service experience. Applicants must meet stringent requirements set forth by the NMC (National Maritime Center) and U.S. Coast Guard. Such requirements include but are not limited to, properly completing and submitting numerous forms, providing detailed sea service documentation, and obtaining a Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC).


Service members and veterans of the armed forces may use prior military experience towards their sea service requirement if their military occupation were similar to that of a deck handler or officer of a merchant marine vessel. Since obtaining this type of information can be somewhat difficult post-military, it is most beneficial for applicants to acquire such documentation prior to exiting the service.

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Download the MMC Application Checklist AND

"How to Obtain a Merchant Mariner Credential"


Determine the Officer and/or Rating(s) you wish to obtain. For a complete list of ratings, see Ratings/Endorsements section. For more information on ratings, visit NMC’s Checklist Page.


  1. List occupation as “Merchant Mariner”.

  2. Keep copies of the TWIC application or TWIC application receipt.


  1. Additional Resource: A Guide to Filling Out CG-719B

If applicable, complete form CG-719C Conviction Statement




Consent to 3rd Party Release (optional)


Obtain Drug Testing using a CG-719P Periodic Drug Testing Form


Pay user fees at (preferred payment method)

  1. Print a copy of your payment receipt to send with your application package.


If applicable, complete form CG-719S Sea Service or obtain other documented sea service.

  1. For the NMC’s regulation on sea service, visit here

  2. For more information on utilizing military experience towards sea service, see Documenting Military Experience/Sea Service section


If applicable, obtain relevant Training Course Certificate(s) and/or Assessment(s). Make photo-copies of all course completion certificates and/or completed assessments.


Submit all forms, photocopies, supporting documentation, and proper signatures to your nearest REC (Regional Exam Center).


IMPORTANT: You must apply at an REC (do not submit your application packet to the NMC). Emailing your application is the preferred method. In-person visits to an REC are no longer permitted. Missing information will cause applications to be delayed or rejected.

Documenting Military Experience/Sea Service

If using prior military experience towards the sea service requirement, ensure you have the following document(s):


  • Transcript of Sea Service (TOSS) – current and former Coast Guard members only

  • History of Assignments (HOA)

  • Military Tracking Software printout


Additional Requirements for Military Applicants –


  • Officer applicants i.e. Tug Captain, must have 3 months of qualifying service on vessels of appropriate tonnage or horsepower within 7 years immediately preceding the date of application.

  • Provide vessel information which includes the name or official number of the vessel, period time assigned to the vessel, rate or rank for officers, and/or position held while assigned.

  • Provide proof of qualifications i.e. Army Watercraft Operator (Army MOS 88K) certification, DWO (Deck Watch Officer), or EWO (Engineering Watch Officer). PQS (Personnel Qualification Standards) or designation letters must be included.

  • Shipboard Generated Letter: A letter signed by the CO of the vessel is considered appropriate as long as it is properly formatted and signed by the CO of that particular vessel for the point in time the service was obtained.

  • Applicant may provide a copy of their DD-214 however, this is not an acceptable form of documentation to substantiate sea service as it could lack pertinent information such as HP, tonnage, route, and position held while assigned to the vessel.

Application Processing

  1. Obtain TWIC

  2. Submit Complete Application Packet to REC

  3. Packet Transfers from REC to NMC

  4. Application Evaluated - To check the status of your application, visit here

  5. Once Approved, Credential Printed

  6. Credential Mailed

For your convenience, you can access the steps below via a PDF

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