Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is a TWIC card?

A: TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential. It is an identification card issued by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).

Q: Do I need a TWIC card?

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

Q: How do I apply for a TWIC card?

A: Go to TSA.gov. 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 a little less than $130.

Q: Do I have to renew my TWIC card?

A: 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.


Q: Do I need a log?

A: 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.

Q: What is the boundary line?

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

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

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

Q: Is Bob still working there? He must be a hundred years old by now.

A: Yes Bob is still here


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

A: Yes. You registration deposit is not refundable but you are able to transfer it to any other Sea School class.

Q: Can my deposit be refunded?

A: Only if Sea School cancels or postpones your class. Otherwise, your registration deposit is not refundable but you are able to transfer it to any other Sea School class.

Q: What happens when I miss a class?

A: The Coast Guard has approved Sea School’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?

A: Certificates of completion are usually mailed within two weeks of the end of course or two weeks after successful completion of the exam.

Q: How long is my certificate good for?

A: Most course certificates are good for one year from the issue date. The exceptions are Radar, ARPA, and the four Basic Training Certificates (CPR/First Aid, Basic Firefighting, Personal Survival Training and Personal Safety & Social Responsibility). These certificates are good for five years from the issue date. Bridge Resource Management, RFPNW and OICNW certificates are good indefinitely.

Q: Can my certificate be emailed to me?

A: Yes. You will have to call Sea School headquarters and make arrangements to have this done.

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

A: No. The Coast Guard prefers copies.

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

A: Sea School keeps electronic copies of all student records including certificates. We will be happy to send you that electronic copy.


Q: What is the USCG application fees?

A: 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. Call Sea School and ask.

Q: Where do I send my application?

A: 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. Call Sea School to find out who is fastest this week.

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

A: 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?

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

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

A: Sea School strongly advises against faxing applications. If you zip the file, you can email to the NMC Detachment of your choice.

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

A: Five years.

Q: Where can I get CPR and First Aid?

A: Coast Guard approved courses can be found at www.uscg.mil/nmc. Look under “providers”

Q: Can I use a jet ski for sea-time?

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

Q: What about submarine time?

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

Q: Does 12 hours on a commercial fishing boat count as a day and a half?

A: Only 12 hour watchstanding shifts (six hours on and six hours off) will count as a day and a half.

Q: Can I make payments for my class?

A: Arrangements are possible on a very limited basis. Certificates will not be issued until the class is paid in full.

Q: Who needs to be in a drug consortium?

A: Any licensed or unlicensed mariner in a safety sensitive position. That position is defined as a crewmember 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?

A: 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: If I get my Captain’s license, will my wife finally have to do what I ask her to do?

A: No. Remember, “Happy wife, happy life.”

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?

A: We do have accommodations at some of our Sea School campuses. Dorms and meals are included in the tuition at the Bayou La Batre, AL Sea School. All other Sea School’s will have a list of nearby hotels and possibly discounted rates for Sea School students. Just call and ask.

Q: What is Apprentice Mate Steersman and how do I qualify?

A: (Link to AMS)

Q: What is a TOAR?

A: Towing Officer Assessment Record. It is a document that lists tasks to be performed or explained (as appropriate) in the presence of a designated examiner. Once completed, the TOAR is a record used to document the training and assessment of a mariner in the towing industry, as part of the qualifications for a USCG towing vessel officer license.

Q: Who must complete a TOAR?

A: USCG licensed Apprentice Mate (Steersman) when advancing to Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels;


USCG licensed Master of Towing Vessels (Limited) when advancing to Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels;


USCG licensed Master/Mate of vessels of more than 200 GT to obtain Mate (Pilot) or Master of Towing Vessels endorsed on their license.

Q: What is a designated examiner?

A: A USCG licensed towing vessel officer who holds a license equal or superior to the one he/she is assessing performance, and have received formal instruction in techniques or observation and assessment or has experience conducting assessments of competence such as experience assessing junior mates or pilots as part of a program run by a company for training apprentice mates (steersman) or as part of a safety management system.

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

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

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

A: Yes. Every Sea School office has personnel who will go over your application with you and advise you. Once you have a complete application, you may mail it to Sea School headquarters in St. Petersburg, FL. We will go over it with a fine tooth comb and if everything is correct and complete, we will mail it to the National Maritime Center (NMC) for you. If corrections need to be made, we will send it back to you with advice on how to correct it and then you can send it to NMC. There is a small charge for this service.

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

A: 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?

A: You may use any SAMHSA lab used by an Coast Guard authorized Medical Review Officer (MRO) or any USCG approved consortium. Sea School uses APCA Drug Consortium.

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

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

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

A: 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.