For the first time in nearly a decade, the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) is getting a new look.

Beginning Friday (March 1), the new MMC will be issued for all approved applications, including credential endorsements, and will replace the current red, legacy passport-style book with separate endorsement labels (stickers). This will be the first update since 2015.

New U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential. MMC photo.

The new MMC will be a single, two-sided page with endorsements incorporated and can be displayed flat or folded.

The new document will contain embedded security features against fraud and will be printed on 8.5"x11" waterproof, tear-resistant synthetic paper.

The Coast Guard said that “the complexity and degraded reliability of the custom printers used to print the MMC books necessitated a change to the credential printing process.”

Current passport-style credentials are produced by the Coast Guard National Maritime Center using printers that the agency says are obsolete and difficult to replace.

“Printing capacities of the current passport-style MMC have diminished and, at times, create production delays and backlogs in issuing MMCs to mariners,” the Coast Guard noted in a Feb. 16 Federal Register notice.

The new MMC will be printed on readily available commercial desktop laser jet printers “and will vastly improve print services and availability.”

Current MMCs will remain valid until the indicated expiration date, and mariners will be issued the new format as the renewal. Mariners shouldn’t request a new MMC unless their current one is lost, damaged, or nearing expiration.

New documents must be validated using the Coast Guard’s credential verification tool at MMLD Credential Verification (

Mariners are reminded that the document should not be laminated and that the credential can’t be used as a passport but should be protected as if it were one.

In the future, the Coast Guard plans to launch an electronically issued MMC that meets domestic and international requirements.

An MMC is required for American mariners to work on commercially operated vessels such as tugs, barges, passenger vessels, offshore supply vessels, and deep draft ocean-going cargo ships in the U.S. and internationally and is valid for five years. It shows evidence of a mariner’s qualifications and competencies, including licenses and endorsements.

The Coast Guard noted that there will be no change to the current format for Mariner Medical Certificates.

More details are available on 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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