Commercial Endorsements for Skippers of Small Commercial Vessels

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There is a lot of confusion regarding Commercial Endorsements for small commercial vessels, the RYA offer two options, the standard Commercial Endorsement and STCW Endorsement. If you are planning to skipper a vessel over 24 metres you will need to apply for a Commercial Endorsement through the MCA.

Commercial Endorsements

What is a commercial endorsement?

A commercial endorsement is required for work on board British flagged vessels subject to the MCA’s codes of practice for small commercial vessels.

Which sail training certificates can be commercially endorsed?

The following certificates can receive the standard commercial endorsement:

Course completion certificates: 

  • RYA Day Skipper practical course completion certificate supported by a Day Skipper shorebased course completion certificate

Certificates of competence:

  • RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence
  • RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence
  • RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence

In addition, the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore and Yachtmaster Ocean Certificates of Competence can receive the STCW endorsement if required.

Which certificate do I need?

The MCA’s codes of practice categorise British flagged commercial yachts according to the type of yacht and the waters in which they operate. It is this categorisation that determines which of the above certificates you will need. You can find out more by visiting the MCA website.

The RYA is a certifying authority for the codes of practice and can advise on the coding and categorisation of commercial yachts. Please contact the RYA if you have any further questions.

How do I apply for a standard commercial endorsement?

Send the following items to RYA Certification, RYA House, Ensign Way, Hamble, Hampshire SO31 4YA:

  • Your original certificate – see list above
  • Your Professional Practices and Responsibilities certificate
  • A commercial endorsement application form – see link on the right
  • Your original, completed ML5 or ENG1 medical fitness form – skippers working in category 1 or 0 waters will need the ENG1 medical. A list of approved doctors can be found on the MCA website.See note below on medical referrals.
  • A copy of your RYA Basic Sea Survival certificate or STCW Personal Survival Techniques
  • A copy of your RYA Marine Radio SRC Certificate or other acceptable GMDSS Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate.
  • A passport sized photo with your name on the back
  • The application fee

Medical referrals

If your medical fitness certificate has a restriction of any kind it may limit your ability to hold a Commercial Endorsement. If you are considering a seagoing career the RYA and Maritime and Coastguard Agency strongly advise that you undergo a medical or sight test, which includes testing of colour and visual acuity, before undertaking any RYA training.

Professional Practices and Responsibilities course

It is a requirement for commercial endorsement holders to take the online Professional Practices and Responsibilities course (PPR).

Existing commercial endorsement holders who gained their endorsement prior to April 2012 will be required to take the course prior to their next revalidation.

Re-validating your commercial endorsement

All commercial endorsements must be revalidated every five years by proving at least 150 days of actual sea service on appropriate vessels during the previous five years, and be in possession of a valid medical fitness certificate.

If you are unable to prove the requisite sea service but are able to demonstrate that during at least half of the five year period you have been employed on duties closely associated with the management and operation of one or more of the appropriate types of vessels, you may have your certificate considered for revalidation.

You can download a revalidation form here.


STCW Endorsements

What is an STCW Endorsement?

STCW is an international agreement by the maritime nations to mutually accept certain seafaring qualifications. On British flagged vessels operating in the UK or in many non-UK ports, an RYA certificate of competence with a commercial endorsement fulfils all legal requirements. However, some operators or flag states may require STCW basic safety training which is covered by the STCW endorsement.

This certificate is valid for use as Master of yachts of up to 200gt on commercially and privately registered yachts

Holders of commercially endorsed RYA Yachtmaster™ Offshore and Yachtmaster™ Ocean certificates of competence can also obtain an STCW endorsement if they hold the following certificates:

  • STCW Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities (half day)
  • STCW Elementary First Aid (1 day), ORSTCW Proficiency in Medical First Aid (4 days), ORSTCW Proficiency in Medical Care On Board (5 days)
  • STCW Proficiency in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting (2 days)
  • STCW Proficiency in Personal Survival Techniques (1 day)

All certificates except the PPR Course must be updated every 5 years for the STCW Commercial Endorsement