Coronavirus (COVID-19)

MSIB: Novel Coronavirus – Mariner Credentials – Update (Change 5)

Rear Admiral R. V. Timme,
U.S. Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy

The Coast Guard continues to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 impact to the maritime industry and mariners in order to take action needed to ensure the continuity of the Maritime Transportation System (MTS).  

In this light, the Coast Guard has posted Change 5 to MSIB 08-20, titled COVID-19 – Mariner Credentials, which updates information on extensions to merchant mariner credentials, medical certificates and course approvals

The following significant changes are provided in Change 5 to MSIB 08-20:

  • Merchant mariner credentials, both national and STCW, and medical certificates that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 are extended.  The credentials are extended to the EARLIER of October 31, 2021 or one year from the expiration date of the credential. This reflects the fact that our statutory authority to extend credentials is limited to one year.
  • In light of the recent closures of Regional Examination Centers to the public, approval to test letters and course approval certificates that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 are extended to October 31, 2021.

I encourage all mariners, ship owners and operators and providers of Coast Guard approved training to read MSIB 08-20, Change 5 carefully.  While the Coast Guard has provided the extensions noted in the MSIB, mariners and training providers are strongly encouraged to fulfill the requirements and submit applications as early as possible in order to avoid a lapse in their credential or training approval.  Similarly, training providers need to make every effort to submit their application early to avoid expiration of their current approval.

If you have questions, please contact the National Maritime Center by using the NMC’s online chat system available at, by emailing, or by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (472-5662). 

The Coast Guard will continue to monitoring the impact of the pandemic and will make the necessary adjustments to ensure the continuity of maritime transportation within the MTS. 

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

Leave a Reply