UK seafarers and seafarers working on UK-flagged vessels will benefit from new photocard-style certificates as the UK continues to drive forward maritime innovation. Starting this month, eligible seafarers will receive the new photocard certificates from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). 

In addition to the seafarer’s details and qualifications, the cards feature a QR code which links to the MCA certification database, allowing port officials and crew managers to immediately verify the credentials of the seafarer online.  

The new style of waterproof certificates will be issued for Certificates of Competency and Boatmasters’ Licences. Certificates of Equivalent Competency have been similarly redesigned and as part of the update will now be called Flag State Endorsement. The photocards will be issued to all new applicants, as well as those who were given temporary certificates on a renewal basis by the MCA to allow them to continue their vital work during the pandemic. 

The change comes as part of the UK flag state’s wider commitment to modernise its services to seafarers. As well as issuing new cards, the agency will now be accepting digital copies of seafarer documentation, with a random sample requiring original documents.  

“We can’t say enough how much we value the work of our seafarers and the best way to show that is to provide practical support,”  says Katy Ware, director of  Maritime Services at the MCA. “In this case, we’ve been working quickly to adapt and modernise our services for seafarers through the past 12 months. This will make the certification process much faster for them.

“During this whole process, we’ve made sure we’ve involved organisations representing those who will be using these to make sure all that is done meets their requirements as well as ours. The upgrade to seafarer certification complements our recent digitalisation of the UK Ship Register and our plans to bring further seafarer training online in the coming months.” 

Currently, the MCA’s UK Seafarer Services issues over 15,000 certificates each year and the modernised process will see up to 80 per cent reduction in the hard copy documentation required from seafarers to process applications.

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