FAQ




1. What are the different types of licenses that I may qualify for?

OUPV INLAND (6 PAK) = Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel
  • The vessel may carry up to 6 paying passengers plus crew
  • The license is good up to 100 Gross Tons
  • The vessel must be operated within the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • No time is required outside the boundary line established by the US Coast Guard to obtain the license
  • Operators must be a minimum of 18 years of age
  • US citizenship is not required for operating a vessel of less than 5 Net Tons (about 26ft). Citizenship is required for operation of a documented vessel-for-hire over 5 net tons.
OUPV NEAR COASTAL (6 PAK) = Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel
  • The vessel may carry up to 6 paying passengers plus crew
  • The license is good up to 100 Gross Tons
  • Some insurance companies will require a licensed Captain on board for deliveries or relocations
  • The vessel may be operated inland and up to 100 miles offshore
  • If traveling to international ports or operating in international waters under the authority of your license, STCW training may be required (see definition of STCW)
  • Operators must be a minimum of 18 years of age
  • US citizenship is not required for operating a vessel of less than 5 Net Tons (about 26ft). Citizenship is required for operation of a documented vessel-for-hire over 5 net tons.
MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 GROSS TONS)
  • The vessel may carry more than 6 passengers up to the maximum number of passengers as stipulated by the vessel's certificate of inspection
  • The tonnage rating is assigned by the US coast Guard based on experience (see Tonnage Ratings below)
  • Some insurance companies will require a licensed Captain on board for deliveries or relocations
  • The vessel must be operated within the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • No offshore time is required to obtain the license
  • Operators must be a minimum of 19 years of age
  • US citizenship is required to hold a Master's License
MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 GROSS TON) / OUPV ENDORSEMENT
  • Under the authority of the Master Inland License the inspected vessel may carry more than 6 passengers up to the maximum number of passengers as stipulated by the vessel's certificate of inspection
  • The tonnage rating is assigned by the US coast Guard based on your operation of equivalent size vessels within the most recent 3 years (see Tonnage Ratings)
  • The vessel must be operated within the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • Operators must be a minimum of 19 years of age
  • US citizenship is required to hold a Master's License
  • OUPV ENDORSEMENT In addition to the provisions of the Master Inland License, under the authority of the OUPV endorsement the vessel may also be operated up to 100 miles offshore
  • The vessel may carry up to 6 paying passengers plus crew
  • The license is good up to 100 Gross Tons
  • Some insurance companies will require a licensed Captain on board for deliveries or relocations
  • If traveling to international ports or operating in international waters under the authority of your license, STCW training may be required (see definition of STCW)
MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 GROSS TON) / MATE NEAR COASTAL ENDORSEMENT
  • This license holds the same authority as the Master Inland/OUPV plus it allows the operator to act as a Mate on Inspected Vessels up to 200 miles offshore and allows the holder to operate uninspected vessels to 200 miles offshore.
MASTER NEAR COASTAL (25, 50 OR 100 TON)
  • The inspected vessel may carry more than 6 passengers up to the maximum number of passengers as stipulated by the vessel's certificate of inspection
  • The tonnage rating is assigned by the US coast Guard based on experience (see Tonnage Ratings)
  • Some insurance companies will require a licensed Captain on board for deliveries or relocations
  • The inspected vessel may be operated inland and up to 200 miles offshore
  • If traveling to international ports or operating in international waters under the authority of your license, STCW training may be required (see definition of STCW listed)
  • Operators must be a minimum of 19 years of age
  • US citizenship is required to hold a Master's License
2. How much on the water time must I have to qualify for the different types of licenses?
  • OUPV INLAND (6 PAK) = Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present is required. 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a power or sail vessel over 16 feet in length.
  • OUPV NEAR COASTAL (6 PAK) = Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (These requirements are the same as those for the Master Inland/OUPV Near Coastal Endorsement License) A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present is required. 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a power or sail vessel over 16 feet in length. Also, 90 of those 360 days must be on waters outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard.
  • MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 GROSS TONS) A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present is required. 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a power or sail vessel over 16 feet in length.
  • MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 GROSS TON) / OUPV ENDORSEMENT (These requirements are the same as those of the OUPV Near Coastal License) A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present is required. 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a power or sail vessel over 16 feet in length. Also, 90 of those 360 days must be on waters outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard.
  • MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 GROSS TON) / MATE NEAR COASTAL ENDORSEMENT A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present is required. 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a power or sail vessel over 16 feet in length. Also, 180 of those 360 days must be on waters outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard.
  • MASTER NEAR COASTAL (25, 50 OR 100 TON) A minimum of 720 days on the water experience from age 14 to present is required. 90 of those 720 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a similar size vessel to the license you are applying for. Also, 360 days of those 720 days must be on waters outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard.
3. How do I prove my time on the water to meet the US Coast Guard requirements?

Most recreational boaters do not maintain log books, so the Sea Service forms which are included in the USCG application package must be filled in using the honor system. This form consists of twelve boxes, one for each month of the year. Starting with the most recent year, you fill in the number of days you can best recall being on the water and then go backward in time to the age of 13 years old, or until the sea time requirements have been met. This time is then supported by proof of ownership of the vessel, if you are claiming time on your own boat. If you claim time on someone else's boat, then they must sign your sea service form.

Proof of ownership may include such documents as: registration papers, documentation papers, insurance papers, or bills of sale. Pictures are not considered acceptable.

To claim your time the vessels should be greater than sixteen (16) feet in length.

4. How much time on the water is required to obtain a Captains License?

There are different licenses which may be obtained. The time requirements for these different licenses will vary. Time is based on the number of days on the water. In New England, the US Coast Guard recognizes four (4) hours or more of time underway in one twenty-four (24) hour period as one day.

OUPV INLAND (6 PAK) = Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel within the US Coast Guard boundary lines
  • The A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present
  • 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years
  • Time on the water must be on vessels greater than 16 feet in length
  • No time is required outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • No U.S. citizenship is required
OUPV NEAR COASTAL (6 PAK) = Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel for both Inland waters and up to 100 miles offshore
  • The A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present
  • 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years
  • The operator must have at least 90 days of on the water experience outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • Time on the water must be on vessels greater than 16 feet in length
  • No U.S. citizenship is required
MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 TON) for Inspected and Uninspected vessels operating on Inland waters inside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • The A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present
  • 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years
  • Time on the water must be on vessels greater than 16 feet in length
  • No time is required outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard
  • U.S. citizenship is required
MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 TON) / OUPV ENDORSEMENT for Inspected vessels operating on Inland waters inside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard and for Uninspected vessels carrying up to 6 paying passengers plus crew operating on Inland waters or up to 100 miles offshore
  • The A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present
  • 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years
  • Time on the water must be on vessels greater than 16 feet in length
  • The operator must have at least 90 days of on the water experience outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast
  • U.S. citizenship is required
MASTER INLAND (25, 50 OR 100 TON) / MATE NEAR COASTAL for Inspected vessels operating on Inland waters inside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard and, for Uninspected vessels carrying up to 6 paying passengers plus crew operating on Inland waters or up to 200 miles offshore PLUS Mate on inspected vessels operating up to 200 miles offshore
  • The A minimum of 360 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present
  • 90 of those 360 days must be within the most recent 3 years
  • Time on the water must be on vessels greater than 16 feet in length
  • The operator must have at least 180 days of on the water experience outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast
  • U.S. citizenship is required
MASTER NEAR COASTAL (25, 50 OR 100 TON) for Inspected vessels operating on Inland waters and waters up to 200 miles offshore and for Uninspected vessels carrying up to 6 paying passengers plus crew operating on Inland waters or up to 200 miles
  • The A minimum of 720 days on the water experience from age 14 years to present
  • 90 of those 720 days must be within the most recent 3 years on a vessel of similar size for the license which you are applying for
  • Time on the water must be on vessels greater than 16 feet in length
  • The operator must have at least 360 days of on the water experience outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast
  • U.S. citizenship is required
5. How do I know if I will obtain a Master 25, 50 or 100 gross ton license?

The US Coast Guard will assign the tonnage rating for your license based on your experience on different size vessels.
  • OUPV (6 PAK) = OPERATOR OF UNINSPECTED PASSENGER VESSEL All OUPV licenses are assigned at the 100 gross ton rating
  • MASTER INLAND / OUPV OR MASTER INLAND / MATE NEAR COASTAL (360 days total) If all your time is on a vessel less than 5 GT you'll get a 25 GT
    If you have 90 days over 5 GT you'll get a 50 GT
    If you have 90 days over 50 GT you'll get a 100 GT
    If you have 180 days over 34 GT you'll get a 100 GT
  • MASTER NEAR COASTAL (720 days total)
    If all your time is on a vessel less than 5 GT you'll get a 25 GT
    If you have 180 days over 5 GT you'll get a 50 GT
    If you have 180 days over 50 GT you'll get a 100 GT
    If you have 360 days over 34 GT you'll get a 100 GT

    Reminder: 90 of your days in the most recent 3 years must be on a vessel of equivalent size to the license you are applying for.
6. How do I increase the tonnage rating on my Master's license?

Once you have obtained an original license then you must accumulate additional time on larger vessels to increase your tonnage rating. Time acquired prior to the issuance of your original license does not count toward the increases listed below.
  • If you hold a 25 GT you'll need 180 days over 5 GT to go to 50 GT
  • If you hold a 50 GT you'll need 180 days over 25 GT to go to 100 GT
  • If you hold a 25 or 50 GT you'll need 90 days over 50 GT to go to 100 GT
7. How do I increase from my OUPV (6 pak) license to a Master's license?

Once you meet the time requirements for the Master's license you may choose to take a US Coast Guard approved program for the Master Upgrade. This consists of a minimum of 24 hours of instruction for Deck General topics which include (but are not limited to) large vessel handling, life saving, fire fighting, seamanship, use of the Code of Federal Regulations, and stability.

If you prefer, you may study on your own and then make an appointment at a local US Coast Guard Regional Examination Center to take the Deck General Upgrade test which is 70 questions. You must pass this test with a 70% or better.

If the date of issuance of your OUPV license is greater than 1 year at the time you decide to upgrade, then you will be required to take the Rules of the Road test again.

8. What is the difference between an OUPV (6 pak) license and a Master's license?

The OUPV license is issued to operators for the use of uninspected passenger vessels such as most recreational vessels. The vessel may carry up to 6 passengers for hire plus crew regardless of the size of the vessel. This license is valid for the operation of both power and sail up to 100 Gross Tons. The area of operation (Inland vs. Offshore to 100 miles) will depend on the amount of time you have on inland waters vs. time operating outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard.

The Master's license is issued to operators for the use of inspected vessels which may carry in excess of 6 passengers for hire and may have multiple crew members. Inspected vessels (such as whale watch boats, water taxis, ferries, party fishing boats, etc.) must hold a valid "certificate of inspection" issued by the US Coast Guard. This "certificate of inspection" is not to be confused with the "vessel safety examination" conducted by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or the Power Squadron. . This license is valid for the operation of power vessels up to 100 Gross Tons. To operate a sailing vessel you will be required to obtain a "sail endorsement on your Master's license. The area of operation (Inland vs. Offshore to 200 miles) will depend on the amount of time you have on inland waters vs. time operating outside the boundary lines established by the US Coast Guard.

9. What is required to obtain a towing endorsement on my OUPV or Master's license?

First let us clarify that the towing endorsement is valid for use in "commercial assistance towing" such as Sea Tow, and Tow Boat/Us. This endorsement will not qualify you for operation of large commercial tug boat operation.

If you already hold an OUPV (6 pak) or Master's license, you may take a minimum 4 hour US Coast Guard approved course for the towing endorsement. Upon successful completion of the course and exam, you can submit your certificate to the Coast Guard for the endorsement on your license. No practical experience is required as most employers will provide hands-on training. If the date of issuance of your OUPV or Master's license is greater than 1 year at the time you decide to add this endorsement, then you may be required to take the Rules of the Road test again.

If you have completed and passed a US Coast Guard approved OUPV or Master's course, you may continue your education by attending an approved towing endorsement course prior to submitting your application to the US Coast Guard. Upon completion, you may submit the certificate for both the OUPV or Master's course and the Towing Endorsement course. This approach will save you the additional evaluation and license issuance fees with the Coast Guard. 

If you prefer, you may study on your own and then make an appointment at a local US Coast Guard Regional Examination Center to take the Towing endorsement test. You must pass this test with a 70% or better. If the date of issuance of your OUPV or Master's license is greater than 1 year at the time you decide to add this endorsement, then you may be required to take the Rules of the Road test again.

10. What is required to obtain a sail endorsement on my Master's license?

The first requirement is that you must have a minimum of 180 days on the water experience on sailing vessels from age 14 to present. This time must be on a vessel of similar size to the tonnage rating of the license that you are applying for.

If you already hold a Master's license, you may take a minimum 4 hour US Coast Guard approved course for the sail endorsement. Upon successful completion of the course and exam, you can submit your certificate to the Coast Guard for the endorsement on your license. If the date of issuance of your Master's license is greater than 1 year at the time you decide to add this endorsement, then you may be required to take the Rules of the Road test again.

If you have completed and passed a US Coast Guard approved Master's course, you may continue your education by attending an approved sail endorsement course prior to submitting your application to the US Coast Guard. Upon completion, you may submit the certificate for both the Master's course and the Sail Endorsement course. This approach will save you the additional evaluation and license issuance fees with the Coast Guard.

If you prefer, you may study on your own and then make an appointment at a local US Coast Guard Regional Examination Center to take the Sail endorsement test. You must pass this test with a 70% or better. If the date of issuance of your Master's license is greater than 1 year at the time you decide to add this endorsement, then you may be required to take the Rules of the Road test again.

11. How do I renew my OUPV (6 pak) or Master's license?

Your license is good for 5 years from the date of issuance. Any time within 12 months prior to the expiration date you may renew your license. If you have maintained 360 days on the water during this 5 year period, you may submit a renewal application to the US Coast Guard including your sea service forms. The Coast Guard will automatically renew your license. 

You have a choice of sending them your original license or copies of the front and back of your valid license. If you would like your original license returned, you must send a letter requesting that the dated license be returned to you. 

If the expiration date of your license exceeds 5 years, then you have one additional year (the "grace period") to renew. You may not operate under the authority of your license during this "grace period". You must then submit the original license to the US Coast Guard along with the application to obtain a renewal license.

If you have not maintained 360 days on the water during the 5 year period from the date of issuance of your license, then you must either take an approved US Coast Guard 24 hour renewal course or, complete and return the US Coast Guard "take home" examination. 

12. What if my OUPV or Master's license has expired?

If the expiration date of your license exceeds 5 years, then you have one additional year (the "grace period") to renew. You may not operate under the authority of your license during this "grace period". You must then submit the original license and sea service forms showing 360 days of active on the water time during he most 5 recent years to the US Coast Guard along with the renewal application to obtain a renewal license. 

If your license has lapsed beyond the "grace period" then you will be required to start over. This means taking a US Coast Guard approved course, or taking the examination at a US Coast Guard Regional Exam Center.

13. What size vessel will qualify me for a 25, 50 or 100 Gross Ton Master's license?

All OUPV (6 pak) licenses are issued at 100 gross tons
  • Typically a vessel of 28 feet to 35 feet will qualify for a 25 GT license
  • Typically a vessel of 35 feet to 50 feet will qualify for a 50 GT license
  • Typically a vessel of 50 feet plus will qualify for a 100 GT license
NOTE: Sailboats generally require additional footage to qualify for the above tonnage ratings.

14. How can I determine the Gross Tonnage rating of my current and/or previous boats?

If you have owned, or presently own, a documented vessel, the gross tonnage rating should be shown on your documentation papers. You may also use the formulas below to determine the approximate gross ton of your vessel.

For power vessels: length x width x depth divided by 100 then multiplied by .67
For sailing vessels: length x width x depth divided by 100 then multiplied by .5

Note: the depth is measured from the inside depth of the keel to the main deck

15. How do I find a drug testing facility in my area?

The US Coast Guard website lists the SAMSHA approved facilities. Any facility that you choose must be in direct contact with the US Coast Guard. DOT and other similar drug testing facilities or programs may not qualify. 

Most random drug testing facilities will require that you join their program and will provide a collection site within your area. Those listed below are work in coordination with the US Coast Guard. (This list is not complete)

Maritime Consortium
PO Box 25345
Alexandria, Va 22313-5345
1-800-775-6985
fax: 1-800-764-2350

Newport Alliance
c/o Newport Hospital
Newport, RI
1-401-845-1367

Drug Testing Consultants
Mr. Bob Schoening
Fairfax, Va
1-800-944-8378

16. What type of CPR class must I take?

Any four hour Adult CPR course that is approved by the US Coast Guard will be acceptable. Typically a course sponsored by the American Red Cross or Heart Association will qualify for this requirement.

You must also take a First Aid course. The American Red Cross also offers these programs.

17. What if I am color blind?

The color blindness test conducted by your physician or optometrist is a pass/fail examination. There are no intermediate levels of color blindness. If you are unable to pass this test, then the US Coast Guard will impose a daytime restriction on your license.

On the physical examination form, which is part of the application package, the US Coast Guard lists 12 different color blindness examinations that are acceptable. The most common is the Ishihara test.

18. Once I complete a US Coast Guard approved course, how long is my certificate good for?

The US Coast Guard will recognize the certificate from an approved course for 1 year. If you are unable to submit your application and the corresponding documents required by the Coast Guard within that 1 year period, then you should contact the school to determine their policy regarding refresher courses.

19. Do I need a US Coast License to perform boat deliveries?

As long as there are no passengers for hire on board the vessel, a Captain's license is not required by the US Coast Guard, unless having a USCG is a condition of employment for the delivery. Likewise, there can be no implied compensation on behalf of the owner for transporting guests (such as sales promotions or business related activity). However, many of the insurance companies require that the vessel owner hire a licensed Captain to perform the delivery. 

If you are considering providing a delivery service, please remember that you should be placed on the owner's insurance policy for the duration of your trip as "other named insured" to protect yourself and the owner in the event that there are damages sustained during your trip.

20. What is STCW training and why is it required?

STCW stands for the international convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping. These standards were agreed to by most maritime nations in 1995. All licensed mariners needing STCW were given until January 31, 2002 to meet all the requirements.

OUPV and Master Licensed Captains traveling to/from international ports under the authority of their license are required to have Basic STCW training.

Others who are required:
  • Personnel with designated safety and/or pollution prevention duties
  • Anyone assigned to muster duties
  • Deck and engineering personnel
  • Ordinary seaman and stewards bringing blankets to liferafts or lifeboats
  • All personnel involved in the general safety of the vessel
21. What is involved in the STCW Basic training program?

There are 4 components to this program
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibility - 1 day
  • Personal survival techniques - 1 day
  • First aid - 1 day
  • Basic fire prevention and fire fighting - 2 days
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