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Boat in the Sea


Basic Questions

Q. Do I have to go somewhere else to take the exams?

No! Stewart Maritime is an USCG approved testing facility.  All testing is done on location at Stewart Maritime Academy.

Q. What do I need to take a course from Stewart Maritime Academy?

You must be 18 years old, or will be turning 18 by the time you send off you application to the Maritime Center. You DO NOT have to be a U.S. citizen, however, you license will be limited in tonnage and to an undocumented vessel.

Q. But I heard I needed some other things?

There are other things you need in order to send off your application packet to receive your license. But you have 1 year from the time you complete our course to submit that packet. So, the other things can be obtained after you complete our course.  

Q: Can I talk to anyone at night or on the weekends about my class or my license?

Yes. We have limited staff that will take your calls after hours and get you the information you need.

Q: I’m coming in from out of town, do you have facilities or hotels close to your school where I can stay while I am attending your classes?

We have a list of nearby hotels and possibly discounted rates for Stewart Maritime Academy students. Just call and ask.

Licensing Questions

Q. What License do I need?

That depends on several factors related to what you are wanting to accomplish.

Q. What is an OUPV license?

This license is properly termed “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels” (OUPV) and is commonly referred to as the “6-pack” or “Charter Boat Captain’s License”. The word “uninspected” means that the equipment required and the design of the boat are less regulated. “6-pack” refers to the 6 passenger limitation placed on the license. OUPV licenses are issued with a particular route. Your license can be for the Great Lakes, Inland routes meaning bays, sounds, rivers, lakes, etc. of the US or Near Coastal routes out to 100 miles offshore. All OUPV licenses are for 100 Gross Tons vessels (about 100 feet, more or less). The OUPV license may be upgraded to a Master license.

Q. What are the requirements needed for my OUPV credentials to be issued to me?

  • 90 days service in the last 3 years on vessels of appropriate tonnage.

  • Near Coastal: 360 days deck service in the operation of vessels, including 90 days service on ocean or near coastal waters.

  • Great Lakes/Inland: 360 days deck service in the operation of vessels, including 90 days service on Great Lakes.

  • Inland: 360 days deck service in the operation of vessels.

    • Application

    • Physical taken within 12 months 

    • Approved DRUG TEST taken within 6 months

    • Enroll in a Random Drug Screening consortium 

    • Approved CPR and First Aid taken within 12 months

    • TWIC card (or receipt showing you've applied for one)

    • Proof of the above mentioned Sea Service

Q. What is a Master License?

A Master license is required if you operate “inspected” vessels. Inspected vessels are allowed to carry more than 6 passengers. To become Inspected, the vessel must be built in accordance with rigid USCG Commercial Vessel Inspection standards. The tonnage we offer is up to 100 gross tons. The tonnage will be issued according to the tonnage of vessel you have documented sea service.

Q. What are the requirements needed for my 25, 50, 100 ton Master credentials to be issued to me?

Same as the OUPV license with only difference being the amount of below sea service.

  • 90 days service in the last 3 years on vessels of appropriate tonnage.

  • Near Coastal: 720 days of service steam, motor, or auxiliary sail vessels on ocean or near coastal waters (360 days inland is acceptable)

  • Great Lakes and Inland: 360 days service steam, motor, sail/aux. sail vessels including 90 days on Great Lakes waters

  • Inland: 360 days service steam, motor, aux. sail vessels on any waters

  • Rivers: 360 days service steam, motor, aux. sail vessels on any waters

Q: Why do I need an Assistance Towing Endorsement

The Assistance Towing Endorsement is required if you will be engaged in towing a disabled vessel for payment. Any USCG license of 200 gross tons or less, including an OUPV/Six-pack Captain's or Master 25-50-100 Ton License, may be endorsed for assistance towing.

Q: What is the difference between an upgrade on my license and an endorsement on my license?

An upgrade is really a “Raise In Grade”, such as OUPV to Mate, Mate to Master, etc. It designates a change in the level of authority of the license. An endorsement changes the scope of the license, such as Assistance Towing, Auxiliary Sail, Tonnage increase, etc.
Raises In Grade cost $145 USCG user fee. Most endorsements are only $95. So it pays to use the correct terminology.

Licensing Renewals

Q. How long are my Merchant Mariner Credentials good for?

All USCG licenses must be renewed every 5 years. 

Q. Do I need to take a class or pass a test to renew my license?

No written exams are required. You will need a renewal application, a physical and an approved drug test, and be able to prove 360 days of sea time in the last 5 years.


Q: What is a TWIC card?

TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential. It is an identification card issued by the TSA

Q: Do I need a TWIC card?

The Coast Guard requires that every new licensed mariner applies for a TWIC card.

Q: How do I apply for a TWIC card?

Go to Provide your zip code. They will send you to the nearest TSA office to enroll. Be sure to bring a picture ID, proof of citizenship, and social security card. Be prepared to pay about $125.  For our Los Fresnos students we recommend IdentoGo in Brownsville.

Q: Do I have to renew my TWIC card?

No, you do not have to renew your TWIC unless you need it for your employment. When you renew your document, the Coast Guard will ask you to sign a document stating that you do not wish to renew your TWIC and that you understand that by doing so you will now be subject to a name based background check and may significantly hold up issuance of your renewed document.

Sea Time

Q: Do I need a log?

No. For entry level licenses, you will need to fill out a Small Vessel Sea Service Form for each boat you show time on. Your boat, you sign for the time. Just show proof of ownership. Someone else’s boat, you just need their signature on the form. You do not have to prove ownership of someone else’s boat. If you've gotten your sea time by working for a company, a letter on company letterhead stating your service can replace the Sea Service Form.

Q: What counts as Sea Service?

Sea Service is a measure of a mariner's lifetime experience on boats, whether recreational, commercial, or military. It may be counted from the day a mariner turns age 16 and accumulates over his or her lifetime.

Q: What is considered a day of sea time?

A "day", as defined by the regulations, is 8 hours of watch-standing or day-working, not to include overtime. On vessels of less than 100 gross tons, a "day" is considered 4 hours.

Q: Can I use a jet ski for sea-time?

Yes, but only 25% of the total required sea time can be on a jet ski.

Q: What about submarine time?

Yes, 75% of sea time can be on a submarine for a deck license.

Q: What is the boundary line?

The lines drawn following the general trend of seaward, high-water shorelines.

Q: Which documents do I provide as proof of vessel ownership?

State boat registration, bill of sale, documentation papers, insurance policy. Any official document that states that you own the vessel.

Class Registration

Q: Can I transfer my deposit to another class or location?

Yes. You registration deposit is not refundable but you are able to transfer it to any other Stewart Maritime class within the calendar year.

Q: Can my deposit be refunded?

Only if Stewart Maritime Academy cancels or postpones your class. Otherwise, your registration deposit is not refundable but you are able to transfer it.  If you DO NOT cancel or reschedule in the cancellation window, the deposit will be lost and is no longer transferable.

Q: What happens when I miss a class?

The Coast Guard has approved Stewart Maritime Academy's courses and all course hours have to be met. If you miss a class you will have to make that class up before you will be allowed to take the course exam. You have one year to complete the course and exam from the start date of your first course.


Q: When will I receive my certificate?

Certificates of completion for in-person classes are handed out at the end of the course after successful completion of the exam. If you are taking an online course, the certificate will be emailed no later than 2 weeks after completion.

Q: How long is my certificate good for?

Course certificates are good for one year from the issue date. 

Q: Do I have to send the Coast Guard my original certificate?

No. The Coast Guard prefers copies.

Q: I lost my certificate. Can I get a copy?

Stewart Maritime Academy keeps electronic copies of all student records including certificates for 5 years. We will be happy to send you that electronic copy.


Q: What is the USCG application fees?

Different license transactions involve different fees. The entry level fees are $100 for application evaluation and $45 for issuance of a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). Renewal of a MMC is $50 for evaluation and $45 for issuance.

Q: Where do I send my application?

There are 17 NMC Detachments around the country that accept applications. You may send your application to any one on them. Some are quicker than others at processing paperwork. For those of you in Texas, your Regional Center is in Houston.

Location:  8876 Gulf Freeway, Suite 200 Houston, Texas 77017

Phone:  1-(888) 427-5662

Fax:  1-304-433-3416


Q: Can I send my paperwork directly to the National Maritime Center in West Virginia?

No. You must send it to one of the 17 NMC Detachments. They will forward it to NMC.

Q: Should I send my original documents?

No. The Coast Guard prefers that you send copies of all of your documents.

Q: Can I fax or email my application to USCG?

Stewart Maritime Academy strongly advises against faxing applications. If you zip the file, you can email to the NMC Detachment of your choice. Email is the preferred method.

Q: How long is my Merchant Mariner Credential good for?

Five years.

Q: Where can I get CPR and First Aid?

Coast Guard approved CPR/First Aid is offered on location for $80.00. 

Q: Do I need a drug consortium?

Any licensed or unlicensed mariner in a safety sensitive position. That position is defined as a crew member who performs duties related to the safe operation of the vessel and/or oversees the safety and control of any passengers.

Q: How does joining the random testing help me?

It will satisfy the requirements of your license application as well as keep you legal when you take passengers for hire on your vessel. If you are working under the authority of your license, you must be part of a random drug testing program.

Q: Will someone at Sea School be able to help me with my Coast Guard application.

Yes. We have personnel at the Los Fresnos, Tx. office who will go over your application with you and advise you. There is a $100 fee for this service.

Q: Do I need to pass a drug test to get my license?

Yes, unless you are an active member of a maritime random drug testing program.

Q: Can I go to any doctor or lab for my drug test?

You may use any SAMHSA lab used by an Coast Guard authorized Medical Review Officer (MRO) or any USCG approved consortium. Stewart Maritime Academy recommend ALL VALLEY DRUG in Brownsville for those taking our class in the Los Fresnos location for both the Physical and Drug Screen.

Q: I am a truck driver. Will the Coast Guard accept my random drug program from my employer?

No. The Coast Guard will only accept maritime random drug testing programs or approved maritime drug consortiums.

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