USCG Masters License Upgrade Requirements

The USCG Master License allows the holder to operate inspected vessels as well as uninspected vessels. Any vessel that is certified (authorized) by the USCG to carry more than six paying passengers plus crew must have a Captain who holds a 25/50/100 Ton Master license. Ferry boats, harbor tour boats and whale watch boats are examples of inspected vessels.

There are four different Master Licenses a mariner may qualify for such as the Master Inland or Master Near Coastal. Both the amount of sea service time and the size vessels you have been on will influence the license you are eligible to receive. Master licenses are tonnage rated at 25 GT (gross tons), 50 GT or 100 GT. The tonnage you are awarded is determined by the size vessels you’ve gained experience on in the last three years , also known as “recency experience.” You are not required to advance through the different licenses one at a time. If you meet the USCG requirements for the master 100GT Near Coastal, you’ll get that license as your first license. The four types of up to 100GT Master licenses are listed below along with the requirements:

  • Master Inland: 360 days underway experience since age 15; 90 of those 360 days in the last three years.
  • Master Inland/OUPV: 360 days underway experience since age 15; 90 of those 360 days in the last three years; 90 of those 360 days outside the boundary lines.
  • Master Inland/Mate Near Coastal: 360 days underway experience since age 15; 90 days of those 360 days in the last three years; 180 of those 360 days outside the boundary lines.
  • Master Near Coastal: 720 days underway experience since age 15; 90 of those 720 days in the last three years; 360 of those 720 days outside the boundary lines.

  • Age 19 or over for Masters Upgrade License.
  • Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) Learn More
  • Physical exam if more than three years has elapsed since the last exam. Available through our Captain's License Class's affiliated doctor.
  • Drug test, unless enrolled in a USCG-required random drug program for the last 185 days, with no failure or refusal to participate in a chemical test for dangerous drugs. Available through our Captain's License Class's affiliation with Lab Corp & Quest Labs.
  • CPR/First Aid Card – Available through our Captain's License Class's affiliated instructor.
  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Completed USCG application package
  • Completion of the Mariners School™ USCG-approved Masters Upgrade course
  • Certificate of Completion from an Mariners Learning System™