The U.S. Coast Guard is adding more remote options and more flexibility to the mariner credentialing process in order to keep maritime commerce moving during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to previous changes loosening the requirements around TWIC cards, the National Maritime Center (NMC) is now adding electronic examination delivery options for license renewal exams. This change gives American mariners the ability to request, complete, and submit renewal examinations by e-mail.
This process centers on an at-home, self-proctored test. After receiving his or her approval to test (ATT) letter, the mariner requests the electronic renewal exam at NMCRenewalExams@uscg.mil or by contacting the NMC Customer Contact Center. After payment, the NMC will e-mail the mariner a PDF copy of the examination modules with a fillable answer sheet for each module. The mariner completes the answer sheet for each module and returns it via e-mail. Mariners have the option to print and mail the answer sheets to NMC.
After NMC receives the answer sheets, it will grade them and notify the mariner of the results, including any retests or re-examinations required.
This new process does not apply to exams for original licenses. Original license exams must still be scheduled at a Regional Exam Center (REC) through the existing process. The RECs are closed to walk-in customers due to COVID-19, but exams may still be scheduled with two days' advance notice.
For mariner training centers, the USCG is accepting requests for "alternate delivery methods" for previously-approved courses. Educational institutions of all kinds are moving towards remote, electronic course delivery to deal with the COVID-19 shutdown, and the USCG is opening the door to this option for maritime training courses as well. Approved requests for alternate training delivery methods will be valid through June 30, 2020, and documented by e-mail only. No formal changes to the previously issued course approval will occur.
This does not mean a shorter or less thorough mariner training program: the NMC says that it has no plans to waive training, assessments or service requirements.