The social distancing measures and travel restrictions put in place around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are leaving many seafarers unable to complete STCW training needed for the issue or revalidation of UK Certificates of Competency (CoC). Where STCW requires a standard to be met prior to the issue of a new CoC, the MCA has confirmed that it will be unable to issue the CoC until this has been achieved. However, the MCA has issued guidance on exemptions for those renewing or updating STCW training.

Firstly, the MCA has announced that it can provide an exemption for UK CoC holders who are on board unable to disembark and their safety training has expired. This will be based on a self-declaration (as per the STCW 2010 Manila amendments). A similar approach will be followed if a seafarer’s CoC expires while on board. The CoC will be extended for a period of six months.

For a seafarer that is unable to complete some or all of the refresher training requirements for the issue or revalidation of a CoC, but needs to join a vessel, a scanned application can be sent to the MCA. The seafarer will be issued with a Temporary CoC valid for a period of six months, providing that they can meet all other requirements. They will also receive a letter from the MCA extending the validity of the training that they were unable to update or refresh.

During this time, it is also likely for seafarers to encounter difficulties obtaining an ENG1 medical fitness certificate. The MCA has noted in its guidance that regulations under the Maritime Labour Convention permit a seafarer whose medical fitness certificate expires during a voyage in a location where it is not possible to obtain a new one to continue working for up to three months. 

For further details about the MCA’s COVID-19 contingency plan and guidelines for seafarers, click here.


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