USCG Master Captain’s License
To operate inspected vessels, as well as uninspected vessels, you need a U.S. Coast Guard Master License. A master is the highest mariner’s license you can hold. You do, however, not have to obtain an OUVP/6-pack license before applying for a master license. Once you qualify for a USCG Master License (in terms of sea service time), you can apply for your master captain’s license as your first license.
Inspected vessels carry more than six paying passengers. They have to be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard and renew their Certificate of Inspection (COI) annually. Inspected vessels must have a Licensed Master onboard. Examples of inspected passenger vessels include tour boats, ferries and schooner sailboats.
A master captain’s license distinguishes between 25-, 50- or 100 Ton License – as well as for operation inland, on great lakes or near coastal. Tonnage refers to the volume of the boat and not the weight. The type of master captain’s license you qualify for will depend on the size of the vessel you did your sea service time on.
Whether you qualify for a USCG 25-, 50- or 100 Ton Master License will depend on your boating experience as follows:
- 100 ton captain’s license requirements: 90 days on vessels of at least 51 gross tons OR 180 days on vessels of at least 34 gross tons
- 50 ton captain’s license requirements: At least 1 day on vessels of at least 5 gross tons prior to 24 March 2014 OR 90 days on a vessel of at least 26 gross tons OR 180 days on vessels of at least 17 gross tons.
- 25 ton captain’s license requirements: you can apply for a 25 ton captain’s license if you do not meet the requirements of a 50- or 100 ton captain’s license.
Whether you qualify for a master captain’s license to operate a vessel inland, on great lakes or near the coast will depend on your boating experience as follows:
- Your sea service must include at least 90 days of operating a vessel on great lakes to qualify for a license to operate on Great Lakes.
- You must have 720 days sea service in total, with 360 days seaward of the boundary line or on the great lakes, to qualify for a Near Coastal Master Captain’s License.
Click here for a list of maritime training academies and master license courses.
Read Captain License: Ultimate Guide to find out how to apply for a USCG Captain’s License.