The National Maritime Center (NMC) receives more than 50,000 applications annually for Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMCs) from mariners. On average, more than 50% of those applications are incomplete or missing information, which cause delays in processing and frustration for mariners.

A total of 66,796 “awaiting information” (AI) reasons were issued in 2021 for MMC applications. Many of these applications have multiple AI reasons. The five most common AI reasons are:

1. Certificates and documents are missing or incorrect

  • Missing training/qualification certificates.
  • Missing proof of citizenship.
  • Unacceptable certificates or documents.
  • Suspended or revoked driver’s licenses. 

2. Incomplete/incorrect application

  • Signature and date problems.
  • Checkboxes on application not completed.
  • Oath not taken or missing signatures.
  • Application unclear regarding which credential is sought.

3. Sea service documentation

  • Sea service letters.
  • Small vessel sea service form.
  • Tankerman: Proof of transfers/service/recency.
  • Rating Forming Part of an Engineering Watch (RFPEW) and Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (RFPNW) Service while in Training.
  • Tonnage/Horsepower.

4. Fees

  • Fees not paid or incorrect.

5. Drug Tests

  • Missing drug screen from the application package.
  • Incomplete documentation.
  • Incorrect drug screen used.
  • Drug screen too old..

What can you do to prevent delays in issuance?

  • Apply at least 90 days in advance. Remember, for renewals you can apply up to eight months early with no change between your expiration and renewal dates.
  • Use the Regional Exam Centers and Monitoring Units to review your application before submission. They are available for appointments in person or over the phone.
  • Use the tools and resources on the NMC website. The application acceptance checklist and evaluator checklists are valuable tools.
  • For general questions, contact the NMC Customer Service Center by email: [email protected] or calling 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).

Capt. Bradley W. Clare
Commanding Officer

U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center 

Martinsburg, W.Va.