As a seafarer, it’s important that you are fit for the job you are doing on a day-to-day basis, and during emergencies.
A medical examination will find out if you have a health condition that could result in you needing urgent treatment, or potentially put fellow crew or passengers’ lives at risk.
If you are employed on a ship, and it’s your normal place of work, then regulations require you to have a medical examination. This is to prove that you are in good enough health and fitness to carry out your duties.
This guide tells you which of the two medical certificates you need, how to get it, and where to find a doctor to carry out a medical fitness examination. It also tells you what to do if you fail, and want to get your result reviewed.
What is a ‘seafarer’?
The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) states:
A seafarer is any person, including a master, who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship and whose normal place of work is on a ship.
Seafarers and other crew members: which medical certificate do you need?
ENG1 - You need a seafarer medical certificate (ENG1) if you are:
- In charge of a ship, e.g. ship’s captain
- Serving on a merchant ship
- A seafarer
Any seafarer on board a ship must have an ENG1 (or equivalent) to work on a merchant vessel, or for any UK Certificate of Competency (CoC).
ML5 - You need an ML5 medical report and certificate if you are:
- Master of a non-seagoing passenger ship (Class IV or V)
- Master of a commercial non-seagoing vessel
- Master and crew of a small commercial vessel (under 24 metres, carrying no more than 12 passengers, going no more than 60 miles from shore)
- Crew or other employee (like a steward, security guard, caterer) on a domestic seagoing passenger ship (Class VI or VI(A)).
This has to be your normal place of work.
No requirement for certification
You don’t need either certificate if you are employed:
- On a fishing vessel
- On a non-commercial pleasure vessel
- On an offshore installation while on its working station
- On-shore as your normal place of work
and/or working during a voyage on a short-term, one-off or temporary basis in roles like:
- Guest lecturer
- Research scientist
- Riding crew
- Trainee or a volunteer on a sail training ship (carrying out non safety-critical role)
Obtaining a Medical Certificate
An ENG1 can be provided only by Approved Doctors who have to be Maritime and Coast Guard (MCA) approved - see list below.
You don’t need an Approved Doctor to carry out your ML5 medical. You can print the ML5 Form and Certificate and take it to any doctor registered with GMC (General Medical Council), and with a valid licence to practice - this will include your local GP.
The doctor will complete your ML5 certificate if:
- There are no ticks in the ‘yes’ box (this shows there might be a medical problem)
- There are no other notes on medical conditions
You can then send this with your application for issue or revalidation of a boatmaster’s licence (BML) or RYA commercial endorsement.
MCA Approved Doctors
Approved Doctors in the South West of England include:
- Dr R G Taylor, 2 Clifton Park, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3BS. Tel: 0117 906 4227
- Dr P B Clark, Onshore Marine Medical Services Ltd, St Andrew’s Medical Centre, St Andrew’s House, St Andrew’s Road, Avonmouth, Bristol, BS11 9DQ. Tel: 0117 982 2729
- Dr H Beard, Litfield House Medical Centre, Clifton Down, Bristol, BS8 3LS. Tel 0117 973 1323 (www.beardmedical.com)
- Dr A C Hereward, Wheal Northey Surgery, 1 Wheal Northey, St Austell, PL25 3EF. Tel: 01726 626840
- Dr S Mulholland, Bodriggy Health Centre, 60 Queensway, Hayle, TR27 4PB. Tel: 01736 753136
- Dr M Boulter, Newlyn Surgery, 3 New Road, Penzance, TR18 5PZ. Tel: 01736 363741
- Dr R J Jackson, Penryn Surgery, Saracen Surgery, Saracen Way, Penryn, Falmouth, TR10 8HX Tel: 01326 372502
- Dr M Carter, St Mary’s Health Centre, St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly, TR21 0HE. Tel: 01720 422628
- Dr S M Tellam, The Walsingham Clinic, 2 Wallsingham Place, Truro, TR1 2RP. Tel: 01872 572 553
- Dr F E Roberson, Saltash Health Centre, Callington Road, Saltash, PL12 6DL. Tel: 01752 842281
- Dr M A Selman, The St Thomas Medical Group, Cowick Street, Exeter, EX4 1HJ. Tel: 01392 477242
- Dr R P Dean, Team House, Riverside Road, Pottington Business Park, Barnstaple, EX31 1QN. Tel: 01271 859243
- Dr J S Gale, St Barnabas Surgery, St Barnabas Terrace, Stoke, Plymouth, PL1 5NN. Tel: 01752 607006
- Dr M A Watts, Waterloo & St Leven Surgery, 350 St Leven Road, Keyham, Plymouth, PL2 1JR. Tel: 01752 561973
- Dr C Penny and Dr K Roue, C/o DDRC, Hyperbaric Medical Centre, Tamar Science Park, Plymouth, PL6 8BU. Tel: 01752 209999
- Dr A Shearman, Village Surgery, Gillett Road, Poole, BH12 5BF. Tel: 01202 525252
- Dr A J Newman, 36 Parkstone Road, Parkstone, Poole, BH15 2PG. Tel: 01202 338979
- Dr Ninham, Health Centre, Park Estate Road, Easton, Portland, DT5 2BJ. Tel: 01305 820422
- Dr A J Ward and Dr S Lane, Abbotsbury Road Surgery, 24 Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth, DT4 0AE. Tel: 01305 780806
Cost of Medical Certification
Seafarers Medical Certificates are not provided by the NHS and are therefore subject to fees as specified by each individual medical provider.
For further information or to make a booking, please call the relevant clinic directly on the numbers set out above.