Detailed guide: How to apply for a CEC for deck and engineer officers

Maritime Coastguard Agency

September 16
11:00 2019


As a non-UK officer you can apply for a certificate of equivalent competency (CEC) to serve on UK-registered vessels if you hold a STCW certificate of competency (CoC) from a country whose standards of competency and training are considered equal to those of the UK.

Find information about countries that have CoC and GMDSS certificates which are acceptable equivalents.

Your application must show evidence of your:

  • standards of competency
  • ability to use the English language (this may include an oral exam)
  • knowledge of UK law relating to your job

Your CEC will contain the same limitations as your original CoC but in some cases there can be differences in coastal, motor ship and steamship limitations.

There are no nationality restrictions on officers or crew sailing on UK vessels, but there is a nationality restriction on masters of strategic vessels.

For yacht certificates, find a list of countries with certificates which are acceptable equivalents.

Individual applications and revalidation

Applications for CECs can be submitted by individuals or companies, but you must sign the form yourself.

Use the same form whether you are applying for your first CEC or a revalidation. Use form MSF 4203 below.


  • MSF 4203 Application for a UK certificate of equivalent competency

Guidance and information notes are available below.


  • MSN 1867 UK requirements for the recognition of non-UK certification leading to the issue of a CEC.

Submit the following documents with your application:

  • non-UK certificate of competency
  • original CEC if already held (proof of competency in English language and passport dont need to be re-submitted if you have this)
  • passport or discharge book
  • evidence of knowledge of English language
  • 2 passport photos
  • GMDSS certificate (deck officers only)

Read the guidance notes in your application form to check you are submitting the documents correctly. MCA can accept original documents or attested photocopies for a CEC application. All photocopies must be certified as a true copy by one of the following:

  • non-UK CoC issuing administration
  • solicitor
  • notary public
  • MCA official

Post your application, supporting documents and the fee shown on the form to MCA:

Seafarer Training and Certification Branch
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG

MCA doesnt accept email or fax applications.

MCA aims to process your application within 28 days of receipt. Youll receive an email if any further information/evidence or training is needed.

Contact the Seafarer Training and Certification Branch at MCA if youve got any queries about your application:

Tel +44 (0) 23 8032 9254

MCA doesnt offer a counter service.

Company applications and CRA

You can submit applications for CECs and CEC revalidations on behalf of your employees. The officer applying for a CEC must sign the completed application form.

You can also apply for a confirmation receipt of application (CRA). Regulation 1/10 of the STCW Convention (as amended) means that MCA can allow a seafarer to serve on board a UK registered vessel for a period of not more than 3 months from the time that they applied for a CEC. This is provided that they hold a valid and equivalent CoC for use on board a UK vessel until they get their CEC. Documentary proof that an application has been made to MCA must be in the form of a CRA below.


Insert your companys address and fax number in the box provided and complete Section 1 of the CRA before submitting it with the individuals application. Follow the process for Individual applications and revalidation. Provided all the required documents are present and correct MCA will issue the completed CRA in 10 working days from the date the application is received.

Evidence of knowledge of the English Language

To comply with merchant shipping regulations officers on board UK vessels must use a common language when operating the ship. As English is the chosen international language for communication at sea officers on board must speak, read and understand English at a level that enables them to carry out ship to ship and ship to shore communication.

If MCA is satisfied that the training and exams you took to get your original non UK CoC were carried out in English you wont need to do a further test.You are competent in English if you can show any of the following evidence by:

  • taking and passing an MCA English oral exam with an MCA surveyor on board ship or in a marine office
  • satisfying the MCA that English is your mother tongue ie your first language
  • holding a STCW CoC for which the examinations and teaching were conducted in English
  • holding an advanced English language certificate issued by the British Council or an International Language Testing System (IELTS) test report showing overall band of at least 6
  • holding a certificate of TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) applicable for admission into US universities with a minimum pass rate of 60
  • holding a Berlitz Language School level A2 (2+ in old format) certificate endorsed by the company
  • passing the MCA English language test administered for MCA by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and conducted by arrangement with SQA in any British Council office anywhere in the world
  • passing the Marlins test at an approved Marlins Test Centre plus the Marlins test of spoken English (TOSE) or written confirmation from your company that your spoken

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