Appearing For Merchant Navy Competency Examination Abroad – UK

The following article has been written considering Indian Seafarers in mind. Though the information included in this article may not be relevant or accurate for seafarers from all countries or states, the procedure to apply and appear for merchant navy competency examinations from the mentioned nations would remain the same with few changes.

Varied are the perceptions of candidates appearing for Competency Exams in Merchant Navy regarding the Indian Examination system conducted by Mercantile Marine Departments established at various ports across the country and governed by the central govt. through Directorate General of Shipping .

This examination process which is perched at a standard equivalent to or higher than the mandatory requirements according to Standards For Training Certification and Watchkeeping 2010 (STCW), is the prime reason Indian officers have been successful in establishing an enviable reputation in the Maritime industry and keeping the ongoing trend alive for their successors.

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However many Indian or Indian origin seafarers have in past and even now choose to appear for their preparatory courses and subsequent competency exams from countries outside India for e.g. United Kingdom , Singapore , Australia and New Zealand. Often the reasons cited for this by the Indian seafarers are mainly as under:

  • Application and other formalities are comparatively speedy and overall process is convenient due to prevalent use of technology
  • Time bound services being offered by various administrations across the world
  • Tourism too is states as one of the reasons as the preparatory courses and exams includes stay of few months or more. Thus solving the dual purpose
  • Countries such as UK , Australia, Singapore have a permit to work system which enables seafarers to generate extra earnings by using their spare time. Often financial independence thus provided is a motivating factor. Sometimes this incomes exceeds the expenses occurred during the stay and on some occasions seafarers have saved handsome amounts while appearing for exams as well
  • Having family roots abroad too is a reason seafarers choose to appear for examinations there. That way they do get some time to spend with distant relatives which doesn’t occur frequently in merchant navy owing to the nature of job .

In this article we shall discuss in detail the examination process and its benefits for seafarers appearing for Competency Exams in various maritime nations such as United Kingdom, Australia , Singapore, New Zealand and others.

Internet on ship. © filigor –

Shipping being a global industry, attracts movement of officers and crew members to different countries for examinations depending on above mentioned factors. One of the favourite country to appear for maritime examinations and courses is the United Kingdom.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is the authority for conducting examinations and certification on behalf of the administration. It comes under the Department for Transport. Eligibility for examinations is based on sea time requirements in various ranks onboard with respect to the Competency certificate applied for.

Various preparatory courses are conducted by some very famous universities of UK for e.g. Glasgow College, University of Plymouth . The major institutes imparting maritime training in UK are in towns like Liverpool, Southampton, Orkney and Shetland. These courses include both theoretical as well as practical training.

A detailed list or useful links for the same can be found on the Merchant Navy Training Board website.  There are some relaxations in attendance required by these institutes. The Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) approved training programmes are prerequisite and an attendance certificate for such programmes is required to obtain a Certificate of Competency by MCA . However the training imparted by them places one at par with any other maritime training around the globe. The MCA website provides details for criteria to be fulfilled regarding eligibility, courses, certifications and exemptions.

UK being a developed country the expenses are on higher side but nevertheless part time jobs opportunities or limited weekly and monthly work hour permits are available to meet the expenses during the period of stay. The work permits of around 16 hrs per week are being provided along with the study visa in the passport. Mode of payment is mostly by electronic means thereby easing the process of application. However stringent measures have been adopted by the examination authority to avoid any kind of malpractices.

As per the new regulations for examinations and study visa, the maximum period of stay is reduced to 1 year without further extensions, after which, the candidate has to return to his home country and then again apply for visa. The second period for visa has been limited to six months. The mode of examination being written as well as orals.

If a mariner successfully completes the foundation degree from any of MNTB/MCA approved institute he qualifies for various exemptions from written examinations conducted by Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA). In some cases the attendance certification for foundation degree reduces the sea time requirements as well.

The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA)  Examination for Chief Mate and Master is given recognition as higher national diploma.  After achieving a Chief Mate’s certificate followed by further sea service requirements, a candidate can appear for Master’s Oral Examination conducted by MCA . Regarding the STCW  modular courses, certificates and endorsements issued by any IMO ‘white list’* country or EU member state, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa is acceptable. More detailed information can be obtained from Seafarer Training and Certification (MCA). Indian Seafarers who have a UK COC have to obtain an Equivalent Certificate or COE to work on ships registered in India.

While appearing for competency examinations in UK, mariners find it convenient but expensive country to stay. However, the latest visa regulations have been less favourable for candidates who fail to complete their training and exams within the stipulated period. The weather in summers is favourable but temperatures in winter falls down to Zero and even low further crossing to the negative side. Despite a few cons, the picturesque and lush green countryside and amicable atmosphere of UK tends to attract thousands on mariners every year.

*An IMO White List country refers to a list of contracting states which have successfully implemented and are following the STCW code and its requirements. The assessment for the same being done by IMO.

Disclaimer: While every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Marine Insight will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.

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About Author

Abhishek Bhanawat is a chief officer who has worked on various types of tankers. He specializes in Crude Oil and Product Tankers. He is highly passionate about his work and loves to sail.

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  1. Thx 4 ur nice info. It will be very fruitful if u write something about Australian exam procedure and helpful info for Coc exam. Thanks in advance.

  2. Dear

    I am working as a Ordinary Seaman i always interested to study so I completed +2 with pcm 55% but I want to keep it continue so I decided to complete Bachelor degrees so kindly suggest me which Bachelor degrees will be bettar for me n my career.

  3. Merchant navy competency exam is given for the certification of the higher rank courses. The students prepare from the maritime courses and give the exam for acquiring the certification. The students can claim for their certification from any one of the government body like john moores Liverpool,dominica or the Lowestoft college. It requires good amount of practice and hard work for getting the certification.

  4. Dear sir. Now i have Bsc in mechanical engineering,but i have interest to study marine engineering….so say smt please…like geting scholarship…

  5. I want to join the HND for 2nd Mate examination Course in Uk.I am working as a O.S but I don’t have bridge watchkeeping certificate.But now I will finish my 36 months sea service which is required.So now I wanted to know if bridge watchkeeping certificate is required to produce when doing admission or in future for HND course?I am a bit in tensions n confused because of this watchkeeping certificate which I don’t have can you please help me by telling if it’s compulsory required or not?

  6. I wanted to know whether Indian COC or UK COC have a bigger value?? I will be appearing for chief mate F.G. but i am in doubt whether to appear from India or UK.Please give suggestions.

  7. I was searching for cheapest college in u.k for appearing for class 2 coc as currently I am holding newzealand mec3 coc .and working as a third engineer.

  8. Hi Abhishek. I am working as 2nd engr for the past 6 yrs and hv my class 2 license from india. Planning to give my chief exams from UK.
    Is it posssible?

  9. Good day
    Pleased to inform you that I am planning to appear examination for class 2 in UK for the month of December for all academic subject. Just few days before i have applied for my NOE.So can you please guide me the last cutoff date for examination booking for UK college
    Thanking you

  10. Dear sir,
    i am working as a motorman and have completed more than 36 month in sea,planning for exam in UK,
    i have passed +2 with 55%in PCM,
    want to know more about college and more information regarding class4exam,fees or i can get any scholarship?
    and more suggestion from yiur side as much as u can give me .
    thanking you

  11. Sir l have Nigeria oow c.o.c in engine room and I want to seat for class 2 unlimited in your country please sir can you give me a guard line.

  12. Sir, i am moving to UK on dependent visa, as my wife going for doing Masters from there.
    So, my question is, can I appear for class 2 exams, being on dependent visa…is it possible???

  13. It is recommended that you check with the institution where you are planning to take the exams, they may have more information on the specific requirements for taking the exams on a dependent visa.

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