Mariners should expect delays in the processing of their medical certificate applications, according to the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center.

The center blames the backlog, with processing times currently close to 30 days for complete applications, on a large volume of emails the center is receiving.

The NMC said in a statement that mariners are sending the same information multiple times or sending multiple emails for individual pages of their applications. During the week of June 10-14, for example, approximately 25% of the emails were duplicate medical certificate applications.

“Sending multiple emails only causes delays in processing for other mariners and will significantly delay the processing of your information,” the statement said.

The NMC advises mariners to:

• Submit applications 90 days in advance of their current medical certificate’s expiration.

• Review the application to make sure it is COMPLETE before submission. Consult the NMC website to avoid common application errors.

• Make sure the applications (CG-719K or K/E) are sent directly to [email protected]. Sending by U.S. mail or fax or to a Regional Exam Center will delay processing.

• Enter the email subject line in the following format: LAST NAME_FIRST NAME _REFERENCE NUMBER

• Submit medical certificate applications (CG-719K) as one PDF. JPEG and other formats aren’t accepted.

• Send drug testing results with Merchant Mariner Credential applications, NOT with the medical certificate applications.                                                                                                  

A medical certificate serves as proof that a mariner meets the required medical and physical standards to work in the industry and must be carried with a mariner’s Merchant Marine Credential (MMC).

More changes to the MMC

In a related development, the Coast Guard is tweaking the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) document that moved to a new single-sheet format on March 1.

The new credential replaced the former passport-style red book and associated endorsement labels. However, mariners have complained about problems with the synthetic paper stock used to create the new credential, and the Coast Guard has decided to upgrade to a paper type that is more tear resistant, according to a statement by the Coast Guard.

The credential will otherwise look the same and contain the same security features.

The updated version will be issued for all approved applications, including credential endorsements, beginning July 8.

For more information about the MMC, consult the National Maritime Center’s website.

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

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