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Education and training

Significant changes to UK certificates of competency now in force

2 February 2021

Nautilus is alerting members to changes to UK certificates of competency (CoCs), including a move to a photocard format, new application processes and updated terminology.

The new measures came into force on 1 January 2021, and have been set out by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in a new Marine Information Note: MIN 655.

Nautilus professional and technical officer David Appleton welcomed the changes, commenting: 'These measures will streamline the application process, resulting in quicker turnaround time for seafarers. The increased security afforded by the new style certificate is also welcome.'

Members are advised to read MIN 655 on the UK government website The main points in the note are as follows:

Format and length of certificates

In line with many other leading maritime nations, the MCA has modernised the UK certificate format to a new photocard design rather than the old 'passport' style documentation. The card will includes the relevant information for the qualification a seafarer holds, and in some cases, the seafarer may receive multiple certificates depending on the type and number of capacities qualified for. Each certificate issued will carry a unique certificate number.

The new certificates will be issued for the full length of five years, in contrast to the temporary extensions some seafarers have been given during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Changes to the application process for those already holding a UK CoC

For those who already hold a UK CoC, applications for upgrades and revalidation can now be made online. Application forms can be found at and should be emailed to the MCA along with supporting documents.

A certain proportion of online applicants will be selected for additional screening and will be asked to send their original documentation in the post.

Application process for first UK CoC

The application process for a first UK CoC will not be going online and will continue to require all necessary documentation to be sent in the post.

New name for certificates of equivalent competency (CECs)

CECs will now also be referred to as flag state endorsements (FSEs), in line with the terminology used in other maritime nations. Those applying for a UK FSE/CEC should apply electronically following the guidance available on


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