Facing processing delays due to a high volume of requests for Merchant Mariner Credentials, the U.S. Coast Guard has granted an extension for those with expiring documents.

The extension affects mariners whose MMC expires on or after Dec. 1, 2016, and is effective through Sept. 30, 2017. In order to continue sailing with expired credentials under the extension, mariners must print a copy of a Coast Guard-issued letter documenting the extension to carry with them for presentation to Coast Guard or other officials.

Maritime employers and owner/operators are also encouraged to print and retain a copy of the letter for record-keeping purposes.

The extension does not apply to Mariner Medical Certificates or International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) endorsements.  According to STCW regulations, the Coast Guard cannot extend the validity of these endorsements, and the agency is therefore prioritizing applications containing MMCs with STCW endorsements.

When mariners are issued new MMCs, the expiration will be five years from the date of expiration of the previous MMC, in accordance with current policy.

In announcing the extension, the Coast Guard noted that mariners should not treat it as an excuse to submit late renewal requests for expiring documents.

"Nothing stated in this bulletin is intended to relieve mariners from their responsibility to submit timely
applications," the Coast Guard warned. "Mariners should continue to submit their renewal requests in time to receive a new MMC prior to the expiration date of their credentials. Mariners who have already submitted renewal applications do not need to resubmit their requests for renewal."

Mariners with additional questions should contact the National Maritime Center by phone at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) or by email.

View and print a copy of the Coast Guard letter concerning the MMC extension.