Captain’s License – OUPV

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Course Details

What is OUPV "6-Pack" Captain's License?

Hey there, future captain! Let’s clear the waters a bit. You might hear folks refer to the “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels” as the “6-pack” or “Charterboat Captain’s License”. Here’s a little insider knowledge for you: “uninspected” simply means the boat’s design and equipment have a bit more freedom, while the “6-pack” part? Well, that’s all about the license allowing up to six passengers. 

Depending on where you want to sail, your OUPV license can be tailored – from the Great Lakes, to our nation’s inland waters like bays and rivers, or even those adventurous near coastal routes up to 100 miles out. And here’s a neat fact: OUPV licenses cover vessels up to about 100 feet, or 100 Gross Tons. Down the line, if you’re looking to up your game, this OUPV can be your stepping stone to a Master license.

Who Needs To Have a Captain's License?

If you’re planning to have folks onboard for some paid fun – be it fishing trips, scenic tours, diving adventures, or even just getting from point A to B – you’re gonna need the right license. Think of it as your golden ticket whenever there’s a “passenger for hire” scenario. Oh, and here’s a tidbit: even if you’re delivering boats for certain companies, they’ll want to see that license.

What's Needed To Get My Captain's License?

If you’re ready to steer the helm, here are the key steps to make your maritime dreams a reality:

  • Boating Experience: Before captaining, gain experience on your own ship or another’s. Whether paid or unpaid, your time on a registered vessel counts. For specialties like fishing or parasailing, many start as Deckhands to understand the vessel thoroughly.

Gather witness signatures verifying you’ve served 360 days on a vessel’s crew, with at at least 90 days within the past 3 years and a minimum of 90 days at sea, off the coast.

  • Pass the USCG Exam: To get your captain’s license, passing the U.S. Coast Guard exam is crucial. This covers topics like deck general and marlinspike seamanship. 

Your best bet? A USCG-approved maritime school like Sea School that prepares you directly for the exam.

  • Submit Your Application: After your coursework, submit an application to the Coast Guard. This includes your medical exam, drug screening proof, and sea service forms.
Course Overview

The U.S. Coast Guard calls this license Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV). The rest of the world refers to it as the “6-PACK” License. The word “uninspected” is a technical term meaning that the equipment required, and the design of the boat, are less regulated. “6-PACK” refers to the 6 passenger limitation placed on the boat, and additionally, on the license.

The OUPV (Captain’s License) license comes in 3 versions: Inland, Great Lakes and Near Coastal.

The Near Coastal version enables one to travel up to 100 miles offshore of the United States, its territories, Great Lakes and inland waters. Inland waters means lakes, bays, rivers, sounds, etc., of the U.S.

All OUPV licenses are for vessels less than 100 Gross Registered Tons.

Throughout the days of class instruction you will learn practical aspects of boating, including Rules of the Road, Radio Operation, Survival Techniques, Distress Signaling, Boating Terminology, Boat Equipment, Use of Flares, Use of Life Jackets, Techniques of Seamanship, Anchoring, Aids to Navigation, Boat Registration, Navigation, Knot Tying, Firefighting and more.

After completing the course, students take Sea School’s exam. Our test is based on the course material and you should be ready to test after reviewing the material.

Key Takeaways
  • OUPV License: Known in the U.S. as Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels.
  • Global Name: Commonly referred to as the “6-PACK” License.
  • Uninspected Meaning: Less stringent regulations on equipment and boat design.
  • 6-PACK Implication: A maximum of six passengers on the boat.
  • License Types: Inland, Great Lakes, and Near Coastal.
  • Near Coastal Parameters: Permits up to 100 miles offshore, including U.S territories, Great Lakes, and inland waters.
  • Inland Waters: Comprises U.S. lakes, bays, rivers, sounds, etc.
  • Vessel Limit: Applicable for vessels under 100 Gross Registered Tons.
  • Course Coverage: Practical boating aspects like Rules of the Road, Equipment Usage, Navigation, Knot Tying, etc.
  • Examination: Taken post-course, based on learned material at the Sea School.
What Is the Highest Level Captain’s License?

That’d be the USCG Master’s License! With this bad boy in your pocket, you can steer the big vessels – think dinner cruises, ferries, dive boats, and even those party boats that fit 7 or more folks.

Is the OUPV "6-Pack" Captain’s License Recognized Internationally?

No, a “6-pack” captain’s license is not recognized in international waters. The OUPV “6-pack” captain’s license is only valid in U.S. waters. 

If you want to captain your boat in international waters, you’ll need that Masters license. Just remember, with the Masters, your voyage has to kick off and wrap up in U.S. waters with the same crew of paying passengers.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to do your research on the countries you’re aiming to visit to get the scoop on their specific rules and regulations.

Can a non-citizen get their captain's license?

You don’t need to be a US citizen to obtain a USCG captain’s license. If you’re a legal resident but not a citizen, you can apply for and, with USCG’s nod, sit for their licensing exams. Once you ace those exams, your scores stay valid for 12 months. 

Within that time, you’ll need to meet the citizenship application requirements. However, in order to start the process of obtaining your OUPV “6-pack” license, you must be authorized to work in the US. And for the 25/50/100-Ton Masters license? That’s strictly for US citizens.

Not eligible? No worries. You can still join the course to boost your maritime knowledge and sharpen your boating skills.