Gaining commercial endorsements

Find out which certificates can be endorsed and how to apply

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.

A number of additional training courses and medical fitness certificates are required to be eligible for a commercial endorsement.

For Sail Cruising and Yachtmaster Instructors who only work in Australia, or holders of a Yachtmaster Sail CoC who require an AMSA endorsement to evidence eligibility for the AMSA Sailing Master CoC, read our guidance on Australia endorsements.

Which certificates can be commercially endorsed?

The following certificates can receive the standard commercial endorsement

Course completion certificates: 

  • RYA Level 2 Powerboat Handling Certificate    
  • RYA Day Skipper practical course completion certificate supported by a Day Skipper shorebased course completion certificate. The Day Skipper shorebased course may be undertaken online or in the classroom. In either case, the exams must be invigilated.

Certificates of competence:

  • RYA Advanced Powerboat Certificate 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.

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. See the MCA's table of manning requirements.

The RYA is a certifying authority for the codes of practice and can give advice on the coding and categorisation of commercial yachts.

Find out more about the Requirements for commercial craft

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  
  • Your original, completed ML5 Medical Report form or ENG1 medical fitness form a photocopy of your ML5 if version MSF 4112 REV 02/23 or ENG1 Medical will be accepted*
  • 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.

*We can only accept the latest version of the ML5 form (currently MSF 4112 / Rev 02/23). Skippers working in category 1 or 0 waters will need the ENG1 medical. A list of approved doctors can be found at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Medical referrals

If your Doctor has entered any “Yes ticks” on your ML5 Medical Report form then your ML5 Medical will need to be referred onto the MCA to be reviewed and you will be required to complete Part D the Medical Review on page 12/16 of your ML5 Medical to provide the RYA with additional information to submit to the MCA. The MCA will not be able to give a decision on the issue of your Commercial endorsement if this section is not completed in full. The MCA will not accept any ML5 Medicals which are more than one year old.

If you are issued with a restricted ENG1 or ML5 Certificate of Medical Fitness, then your RYA Commercial endorsement will also be issued with restrictions. 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 starting training.

Restrictions on a ENG1 certificate will prevent you gaining STCW qualifications for vessels greater than 24m in length.

Professional Practices and Responsibilities course

Since April 2012 it has been a requirement for commercial endorsement holders to take the online Professional Practices and Responsibilities course (PPR).

All new applicants for the endorsement must take the course prior to submitting their application.

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

Find out more about PPR.

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. 

Validity of Commercial endorsements will be from date of processing for a maximum of 5 years.

Download the re-validation form.

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