Shipping Documentation

.Going to sea for a living includes mastery of craft on many levels. A critically important part of it today is documentation. The documentation comes in many forms and from many sources. Below are links and files that will help members navigate the paperwork part of the occupation. 

Registration with the SUP is a good first step. (Form available here).

Visit the "Go to Sea with the SUP" webpage for checklists toward specific credentials. 

Credential and Documentation updates

The latest Credentialing information includes important extensions on Merchant Mariner Credentials, TWIC's, STCW endorsements and STCW med certs.

See the latest Passport expedited service for mariners below.

 Documentation is an ever-evolving part of a seagoing career with roots that go deep. Below this image of an antiquated certificate are some links to the latest information relating to current credentials:     


Overview of Necessary Offshore Credentials

Check out these quick and basic reviews of necessary documentation: 

Got Docs? Basic Documentation

Set A Course For Offshore -- National to International Credentials

How to apply for renewal of MMC online and other information on processing times is here:

MMC online application process and COVID impact on processing times

The MSIB covering the extensions is here: 

MSIB 13-20 CH 1 TWIC extension update 9-10-20

MSIB 8-20 Change 3 -- MMC Extensions until March 31, 2021, STCW med certs until December 31, 2020

MSIB 8-20 Change 2 -- Extensions until December 31, 2020

TSA notice and FAQ on TWIC expiration exemption


COVID-19 Testing Policy

Matson Seattle Tacoma testing procedure

Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC)

National Maritime Center  -- the NMC is the primary source of all U.S. mariner documentation. It contains all applications, checklists, forms, fees and explanations for nearly all credentials. There are hundreds of links to announcements, legal matters, regulations, updates, phone numbers, e-submission portals, FAQ's, chats, and much more.

Just starting out? Here's how to apply for an original Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC): Step 1: get a TWIC. Step 2: Submit a complete application through from the REC to the NMC. Step 4: Wait while the application is evaluated; respond with requested additonal documentation (if any). Step 5: Credential is printed and mailed. 

Click here to see each step explained in detail with descriptions, forms and requirements.

Here's a Coast Guard list of Frequently Asked Questions on Credentials.

Medical Requirements

The medical requirements for merchant mariners are detailed and complex. Here are two introductory Coast Guard notices on the topic:

The basic medical fitness requirements and the process for evaluation, clearance, and appeal/waivers of them for Merchant Mariner Credentials are covered here: Medical Fitness for Certification

The most frequent medical conditions that come into consideration in the credentialling process are recognized here: Top Ten Medical Conditions to Manage for Mariners

STCW Credentials

STCW guidance The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (or STCW), sets international qualification standards for personnel on seagoing ships. There are a large range of STCW requirements. Basic Training, for example, is only one of many. These requirements have been incorporated into U.S. Regulation and Policy for certain personnel, including most SUP jobs. See U.S. Regulation, Policy, and STCW FAQs for more details about applicability, qualification, transition, and underlying national endorsement requirements.

The International Transport Workers' Federation, of which the SUP is a part, issued its ITF guidance on STCW for seafarers is a helpful and thorough review from an international perspective.


NMC Policy and Regulations -- All manner of mariner policy and regulations is covered here. CFR's, policy letters, NVIC's, the Medical Manual, other guidance documents, the entire U.S. Code and much more. The United States Code (USC) is the official compilation and codification of federal statutes. Title 46 USC is directly related to shipping and our credentialing program. 46 CFR Parts 10, 11, 12,13,15, and 16 are directly related to the National Maritime Center's credentialing program. 33 CFR Navigation and Navigable Waters is also applicable and accessible here.

Some statutes are not self executing and require regulation to implement. Other regulations source from International Convention ratified by the United States.

 Maritime Commons -- This continuously updated official Coast Guard blog is sometimes easier to navigate especially for more updates and more recent information.


SUP Registration Form (fill out and send by mail or email to join) 

SUP Registration Form

SUP Delegate's Record and OT sheet


Department of State Notice on Expedited Passport Service for Merchant Mariners and updated mail in application information:

Updated Passport Expedited Service Notice -- August 25, 2021

Passport Office Notice for Mariners

As noted in the release, Passport Services will accommodate mariners whose current valid passport expires within 13 months, and those who need a passport for international voyages.

April 13, 2020

Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for international travel within 72 hours (3 business days).

Mariners with International Voyages
Passport Services will also serve mariners who urgently need a passport for international voyages, and whose current valid passport expires in 13 months or less.

Instructions for Urgent Assistance
If you have not already applied for a passport:

Contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 and identify yourself as a mariner who urgently needs to apply for (or renew) a passport.

The Duty Officer will take your information and schedule an appointment at the nearest passport agency.

In addition to your passport application materials, described on, you will also need to submit a letter from your employer or your U.S. mariners union, on company letterhead that includes:

Your name

Date of your next voyage and duration of the voyage

1. Printed name and title of your supervisor or mariners union representative

2. Signature of your supervisor or mariners union representative

3. Date the letter was issued

4. Make a clear copy of your Merchant Mariner Credential (MCC) to include with your application.

Bring the application, required documents, and the passport fee that includes the $60 expedited fee with you to your appointment.

If you have already applied for your passport but have not received it, contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 and identify yourself as a mariner who has already applied and urgently need your passport. The Duty Officer will provide further instructions and the passport agency will contact you to coordinate the delivery or pickup of the completed passport.

Military to Mariner Conversion Tool

If you are a transitioning mariner from the U.S. Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or other branch of U.S. service check out the beta version of the Mil-2-Mariner conversion eligibility page known as the M2M tool here