Seafarers will benefit from new photocard style certificates as the UK continues to drive forward maritime innovation and work to protect and support them.
Starting this month (February), UK seafarers and those working on UK-flagged vessels will receive the new photocard certificates from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, wherever they are in the world.
In addition to the seafarer’s details and qualifications, the cards feature a QR code which links to the MCA certification database, allowing port officials and crew managers to immediately verify the credentials of the seafarer online.
The new style waterproof certificates will be issued for Certificates of Competency and Boatmasters’ Licences. Certificates of Equivalent Competency have been similarly redesigned and as part of the update will now be called Flag State Endorsement. The photocards will be issued to all new applicants, as well as those who were given temporary certificates on a renewal basis by the MCA to allow them to continue their vital work during the pandemic.
It is a change that comes as part of the UK Flag state’s wider commitment to modernise its services to seafarers. As well as issuing new cards, the agency will now be accepting digital copies of seafarer documentation, with a random sample requiring original documents.
Katy Ware, Director of UK Maritime Services, MCA said: “We can’t say enough how much we value the work of our seafarers and the best way to show that is to provide practical support. In this case, we’ve been working quickly to adapt and modernise our services for seafarers through the past 12 months. This will make the certification process much faster for them.
“During this whole process, we’ve made sure we’ve involved organisations representing those who will be using these to make sure all that is done meets their requirements as well as ours. The upgrade to seafarer certification complements our recent digitalisation of the UK Ship Register and our plans to bring further seafarer training online in the coming months.”
During the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the UK has been quick to act to support workers across the maritime sector, issuing extension to certificates to ensure that seafarers could still work.
Currently, the MCA’s UK Seafarer Services issues over 15,000 certificates each year and the modernised process will see up to 80% reduction in the hard copy documentation required from seafarers to process applications.