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Health and safety

MCA revises medical certification extensions from three to six months

6 April 2020

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has updated the extensions available for expired, or about to expire, medical certificates during the Covid-19 pandemic from three months to six months.

The changes apply to ENG 1 holders on UK flagged vessels including seafarers and fishers and adds a provision around non-UK medical certificates when used on UK Ships.

'It must be accepted that new medical fitness certificates may not be available during the pandemic,' MCA said by way of explanation to the further extensions now in place.

For seafarers whose certificates are due to expire while onboard: 

  • If the ENG 1 certificate is valid for the full two-year period (or one-year for under 18s) the exception will be extended to 6 months
  • If the ENG 1 certificate is time limited (valid for less than two years due to medical reasons) the exception for current voyage (for three months after a time limited certificate expires) is retained. Seafarers still on board at the end of that three-month exception will require a Telephone Review to assess whether a further exception can be approved or not

For seafarers who need to join a ship with an expired ENG 1 certificate: 

  • If the ENG 1 certificate is valid for the full two-year period (or one-year for under 18s) the exception will be extended to six months for those whose certificate has expired within the last three months
  • If the ENG 1 certificate is time limited (valid for less than two years due to medical reasons) and has expired within the last month) will require a Telephone Review to assess whether an exception can be approved or not

Holders of an acceptable equivalent medical certificate on UK flagged vessels that is valid for the full two-year period (or one-year for under 18s) will get an extension of six months.

If the equivalent medical fitness certificate is time limited (valid for less than two years due to medical reasons), the certificate exception is only valid for up to three months from the date of expiry of the certificate.

Seafarers who need to join a ship with an expired acceptable equivalent medical certificate that is valid for the full two-year period can get a six-month extension – but only if it expired within the past three months. 

Seafarers with an acceptable equivalent medical fitness certificate that is time limited (valid for less than two years due to medical reasons) do not meet the requirements for the exception and cannot use the certificate to join a vessel. In this case, seafarers should obtain a new medical fitness certificate when possible to do so.


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