Which License should you get? We recommend that you get the best license you qualify for! There are a couple of options depending on your citizenship status and boating experience.
The two main captain’s licenses issued by the USCG are the Operator (OUPV/Six-pack) and the 25/50/100 Ton Master. There is no requirement to start with a OUPV/Six-pack – you can go straight to Master license!
The USCG Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV/Six-Pack Captain’s License) allows the holder to carry up to six paying passengers on uninspected vessels up to 100 gross tons (about 75-90 feet long). These are usually smaller vessels that normally engage in charter fishing, SCUBA diving, or tour cruises. As such, these vessels are limited to six paying passengers plus crew-hence the term “Six-Pack.” The OUPV License is issued in three forms:
1- OUPV Inland License: The OUPV Inland License is restricted to operation shore-ward of the boundary line, excluding the Great Lakes. This license is valid on uninspected vessels up to 100 gross tons.
- This license requires at least 360 days of documented experience in the operation of vessels, with 90 of the 360 days occurring in the last three years. Experience gained prior to 15 years of age may not be counted.
- The OUPV Inland License can be upgraded to an OUPV Near Coastal License once 90 days experience seaward of the boundary line has been achieved.
3- OUPV Near Coastal: This license is valid on vessels up to 100 gross tons and out to 100 nautical miles.
The OUPV Near Coastal License also requires at least 360 days of documented experience in the operation of vessels, 90 of which must be gained seaward of the boundary line. Ninety of the 360 days must be in the last three years. Experience gained prior to the age of 15 will not be counted.
The USCG Master License allows the holder to operate inspected vessels as well as uninspected vessels. Any vessel that is certified (authorized) by the USCG to carry more than 6 paying passengers plus crew must have a Captain who holds a 25/50/100 Ton Master License. Ferryboats, harbor tour boats, and whale watching boats are examples of inspected vessels.
There are 4 different Master Licenses a mariner may qualify for such as the Master Inland or Master Near Coastal. Both the amount of sea service time and the size of the vessels you have been on will influence the license you are eligible for. Master licenses are tonnage rated at 25 GT (gross tons), 50 GT, or 100 GT. The tonnage you are awarded is determined by the size vessels you've gained experience on in the last 3 years – it’s called “recency experience.” You are not required to advance through the different licenses one at a time. If you meet the USCG requirements for the Master 100GT Near Coastal, you’ll get that license as your first license. The 4 types of up to 100GT Master licenses are listed below along with the requirements:
- Master Inland: 360 days underway experience since age 15; 90 of those 360 days in the last 3 years. Completion of approved Course and Test.
- Master Inland/OUPV: 360 days underway experience since age 15; 90 of those 360 days in the last 3 years; 90 of those 360 days outside the boundary lines. Completion of the Mariners Learning System™ Coast Guard approved Course.
- Master Inland/Mate N.C.: 360 days underway experience since age 15; 90 days of those 360 days in the last 3 years; 180 of those 360 days outside the boundary lines. Completion of the Mariners Learning System™ Coast Guard approved Course.
- Master Near Coastal: 720 days underway experience since age 15; 90 of those 720 days in the last 3 years; 360 of those 720 days outside the boundary lines. Completion of the Mariners Learning System™ Coast Guard approved Course.
- Application for license.
- TWIC Card.
- Documentation of sea time experience – letters or sea service forms signed by the vessel’s owner or captain or sea service forms signed by you for your own boat(s) or DD2-14 and Transcript of Service for your military sea service (if applicable).
- Proof of vessel ownership – if you are submitting forms for your own boat(s).
- Physical Exam (within 1 year, on USCG Forms). There are certain medical conditions and/or prescription drugs that may disqualify you for a license or require a waiver. Ask for info if applicable.
- Drug Screen (within 6 months, on USCG Forms or proof of random program).
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship for Master/Mate (Birth Certificate or Passport) or Proof of Permanent Residency for Six-Pack/OUPV.
- Complete a First Aid & CPR approved course within the last year.
- 3 Letters of character reference.
Labels: So You Want to Be A Captain