December 21, 2020

It’s all about the paperwork… How an oyster farmer grew his business by becoming a professional captain – Part 4

Part 4 of our new Building Better Businesses Series sees Capt. Matt Behan take on the paperwork on his journey to evolve his career.

Building Better Businesses Series brought to you by the Professional Captains Association

When you have completed the Captains License course and examination, most applicants will begin the process of gathering materials for the license application. This process can be arduous, and as Behan would describe, “the least sexy portion of this whole process.”

Application for your USCG certified license requires completion of an extensive checklist and submitted paperwork package that ensures the eligibility of the applicant. Behan describes, “you have to track your sea time, get your TWIC card, drug and background tests; It’s a whole lot of testing and paperwork you’re doing.” Licensure also requires the completion of a First Aid and CPR class, which Behan completed at Confident Captain in one day. 

The required paperwork in your package ranges from character references that attest to the applicant's character and eligibility for the license, to USCG recognized physical and drug testing. One of the most important of these requirements is to obtain a Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC).

This card is a requirement for those interested in working within the maritime industry, and ensures that you have access to secure maritime facilities and vessels. Many applicants will start with this, as the process can be unpredictable and can take up to several weeks. 

Behan describes, “It was pretty easy. I signed up for an appointment online and drove up to Warwick.” It requires two trips to obtain the TWIC card, and involves fingerprinting and security questions. While the process can be unpredictable, you are able to apply for your Captain’s license with the receipt in hand, meaning you do not have to wait to receive the actual TWIC card itself to continue your application process.

An additional portion requires verification of your Sea Time. “This is where it gets really technical,” describes Behan. “You have to go back and contact all of the captain’s you have worked for throughout the years.” 

In order to verify your accumulated sea-time, you have to complete a separate Coast Guard 719 sea time form for each captain you have worked for. “This is where you would utilize your CaptTracker produced 719 form,” Captain Kent advises. “ The easier you can make if for them, the more likely they are to do it quickly.” Click here for further information and requirements regarding the documentation of sea-time. 

When you have performed all testing and courses required, and obtained all paperwork required in your package, you can send your paperwork to a USCG Regional Exam Center (REC). If you have completed your application, you can simply email, fax, or mail it. 

Behan describes, “once you are done with all the paperwork, it’s great. You get your license and you finally get to open those doors.” 

 For those who would like assistance in the review and collection of the required materials for the paperwork package, Confident Captain offers Licensing Application Assistance. 

The Building Better Businesses Series will follow the journey of Captains in the workforce. The Professional Captains Association is here to support mariners from training to advocacy, advice, and membership deals. Learn more about joining: