seafarer medical certificate

What is the ENG1 Medical Certificate and why do I need it?

In order to be be able to work at sea, it is mandatory that you obtain a seafarer medical certificate that confirms you are fit and able to carry out your designated duties onboard. At Get Onboard Superyacht Academy, we assist with a number of courses and qualifications for those looking for a career in the Super Yacht Industry.

The ENG1 medical certificate is a requirement of the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) and therefore it would be against the law for you to work without one. Furthermore, Professional Yachtmasters will not be able to have their qualification commercially endorsed without a seafarer medical certificate.

There are two types of certificate approved by the MCA: an ENG1 Medical Certificate (referred to as ENG1) and an ML5 Medical Certificate (referred to as ML5).

Do I need an ENG1 or an ML5?

If you are looking to make a career at sea (in other words, become a ‘seafarer’ and work on super yachts) then you will need an ENG1. The only exception to this is if you are going to work on board a small commercial vessel certificated for Area Category 2 to 6 (so one which doesn’t go more than 60 miles from a safe haven), in which case you would only require an ML5 Certificate.

According to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), “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.”

How do I apply for an ENG1 or ML5?

An ENG1 must be issued by an MCA-approved doctor. You can book your ENG1 medical directly with us.

How much does the ENG1 medical certificate cost?

The current fee for an ENG1 is R2,500.

What happens in an ENG1 medical and what do I need to take?

The appointment should take around 30-40 minutes and the medical is non-invasive. The doctor will ask for a urine sample so that your kidney function and blood sugar levels can be tested, they will measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure, listen to your lungs as well as check your ears nose and throat. You will have your eyesight tested and be checked for colour blindness and they will also test your reflexes and give you a physical examination. If you have any previous medical history then the doctor will discuss this with you too.

A standard ENG1 examination will include:
  • Measuring your height and weight

  • A standard eye test

  • A colour blindness test

  • A hearing test

  • Ear and throat evaluations

  • Teeth/gums inspection

  • Questions on your medical history, drinking habits, etc.

  • A urine sample (to test kidney functionality and blood sugar)

  • Reflex testing

  • Listening to your heart and lungs, testing blood pressure and heart rate

  • Hernia testing (asking you to cough while gently pressing your abdomen)

Make sure to take along 2 ID photos as well as your ID or Passport.

How do I get my ENG1 certificate?

Once your doctor has finished your examination they will issue you with one of the following 3 certificates:

  1. Fit without restrictions (unrestricted)

  2. Fit with restrictions (limiting your work to certain jobs or locations)

  3. Temporarily, or permanently unfit

If you pass, the doctor will usually issue you with your ENG1 certificate that same day. If you are found to be unfit or your ENG1 is restricted then the doctor will issue you with a ‘Notice of Failure/Restriction (ENG3)’ form. The ENG3 will tell you what to do if you want to have an independent medical review.

What if I fail my ENG1 medical?

If you do not pass your ENG1 medical (ie. you are “temporarily or permanently unfit”), these results will stand for five years. You can have another ENG1 medical during the next five years if you can medically prove that the condition that caused you to fail has been reversed.

Can I get an ENG1 if I am colour blind?

During your ENG1 medical you will be tested for colour blindness using the Ishihara test. If you fail the Ishihara test then don’t panic! There is a colour vision test you can choose to take called “Colour Assessment and Diagnosis” (CAD) which measures the severity and type of colour vision loss, and reliably detects congenital deficiency.

If you pass the CAD test and have no other medical conditions which could affect your ability to carry out your duties at sea, then this is great news as you will be issued an unrestricted ENG1.

If you fail the CAD test you will be issued an ENG1 with the restriction ‘Not Fit for lookout duties at night. Not eligible for MCA CoC or rating certification’ and the certificate will be ticked ‘not fit for lookout duties’.

You will receive a letter from the CAD test centre to confirm your test result which you will be required to take to all future medicals.
Deck officers or trainee officers who have failed both the Ishihara test and the CAD test will be classed as permanently unfit for sea service.

For how long is my ENG1 or ML5 valid?

An ENG1 can be valid for up to two years (one year if you are aged between 16 and 18) and an ML5 can be valid for up to five years, however either certificate would become invalid if you developed a condition or a disability (mental or physical) which affects your ability to work.

When should I apply for my ENG1?

We highly recommend you obtain your ENG1 prior to starting your course so that you are ready to begin work as soon as your course has finished. This will also highlight at the outset any issues which might affect your ability to work at sea, such as colour blindness.

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There are two basic yacht training requirements that you need to complete in order the legally be eligible to work at sea. This includes the STCW’10 basic training course the ENG 1 medical the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties. These are compulsory courses and must be completed no matter which job or position you are applying for.
STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping. The STCW’2010, previously referred to as STCW’95, is a compulsory requirement for any seafarer in order to be eligible for employment at sea. The STCW 2010 has replaced STCW 95 and is the new code that all seafarers working on board commercial vessels must adhere to. If you are planning on joining the superyacht industry to look for a yacht job as a stewardess, deckhand, engineer or chef, you will need to complete this STCW course. The course runs every week from our academy in Cape Town and takes 11 days to complete.
The ENG1 Medical is a basic medical certificate and is as essential as your STCW’10. It is a mandatory requirement to prove you are fit to work as a yacht crew member at sea. Only MCA-approved doctors can perform an ENG 1 medical exam. The exam takes around 1 hour to complete, and should you pass you will leave with your certificate immediately. Our facilities enable you to complete your ENG1 medical at the same premises as your STCW’10 for your ultimate convenience.
The yachting industry is predominantly a career focused on hospitality. While various skill sets may assist you in finding a job, they are not enough to fully prepare you for a job on board. You will still need to complete the correct Maritime Training to be fully equipped for a job as a Super Yacht Crew member. The following skills/ experience are beneficial: – Hospitality training, including waiters, bar tenders, event staff, hotel training, cruise liners – Au pair, nanny and child care, tutoring, child entertainment – Beauty therapists: nail technicians, hairstylists, beauty therapists – Trade skills including: carpentry, varnishing, building, plumbing, tiling, engineering – Watersports: scuba diving, wakeboarding, sailboarding, waterskiing – For Chefs: A natural ability and training/experience as a Restaurant, Estate, Hotel Chef – Personality traits: Social skills, cultured, good work ethic, good manners, well presented, self— confident, a positive attitude.
There are usually four departments onboard a super yacht including the deck department, engineering, interior and galley.
Completing your deckhand courses prior to looking for your first job, demonstrates to your employers that you are dedicated crew member that understands what is required in order to be successful as an entry level crew member in the super yacht industry. Our industry leading standard of training ensures all our candidates enter the super yacht industry. The primary duties of a deckhand are shared between the maintenance of the yacht exterior and looking after the guests. Maintenance tasks include painting, filling and fairing as well as 1- and 2-part varnishing jobs, plus all other cleaning, polishing and scrubbing duties. Guest related tasks vary from tender driving, beach set ups, water sports, jet skis, anchoring or manoeuvring of the yacht. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:
  • Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Theory
  • Yachtmaster/Coastal Practical
  • Specialist Super Yacht Training Course (Deck Hand Training Course)
  • RYA Power Boat Level II
  • RYA Personal Watercraft Course
  • RYA Competent Crew Certificate
  • RYA Day Skipper Theory and Practical Certificates
  • RYA Radar
  • VHF Radio Operator’s License
The primary task of a Steward or Stewardess onboard is to maintain the interior or the luxury yacht to the highest standard. You will also be required to cater to the needs of yacht owners or charter guests. Service, housekeeping and laundry form the three main departments of the stewardess responsibilities. Food hygiene and safe food preparation are also a major component of working as a stewardess on a super yacht. Our stewardess training certification is run in Cape Town, South Africa. This is an entry level training course, designed for any crew member that is looking to pursue a career as as stewardess. Combining both practical and theoretical course modules, you will spend time working with actual products used onboard as well as familiarise yourself with processes for when guests are onboard. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:
  • Stewardess Course
  • ENG1
  • Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)
  • MCA Food Safety Level 2
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
Simple. Just email explaining which course you are interested in. We will provide you with a list of available dates and our booking form. Simply return to us with your proof of payment and you place of the course is reserved.
Once you are qualified, what are the next steps to finding your first job onboard? Yacht CV’s are very different to landbased CV’s and are essential when looking for a job on a yacht.
Our courses have been created in order to best prepare our students with the correct qualification, and industry specific knowledge that would be expected of junior crew in the yachting industry. The founders of Get Onboard superyacht Academy spent over 12 years as a senior ranked crew members and so offer our candidates with the most up to date information to best prepare you for the industry. Without your STCW and ENG1 you are not legally able to work at sea, so until you have completed those requirements, finding employment will be impossible. While the other courses are not compulsory, as industry experts we feel it is in our students best interest to educate themselves as much as possible before entering the super yacht industry. We do our best to offer our students the best possible advice on courses that would be most beneficial to their career goals as well as their pockets.
Here at Get Onboard Superyacht Academy, we pride ourselves on offering our students practical and honest advice. That’s why you will never find us trying to sell your courses that won’t be specifically relevant to your department. Landing your first job while you are still in South Africa is almost impossible. The reason for this is because just like you would interview for a land based position face to face.
Day work is a great way of networking, building contacts in the industry, and most importantly finding you first super yacht job. Day work refers to when you do not have a formal contract in place with a yacht, but you help out onboard for anything from a day to several weeks. Day working is a great way for you to get a sense of different roles onboard and whether the industry is right for you. Often the Captain or senior crew member will use day work as a trial or “audition” to see who is the best fit for the crew and is the most efficient worker so it is an excellent tool to use when searching for your first job.
There are two main yachting hubs, the Mediterranean, particularly Antibes in France or Palma de Mallorca in Spain, and Fort Lauderdale or Miami in Florida. We explain the different seasons and best time of year to visit each areas in our article Best Locations To Get a Yacht Job for Time of Year.
The standard entry level salary for a junior stewardess or deckhand ranges between €2000-€2500 or $2300-$2800 per month. This amount is generally tax free, although the onus is on each crew member to check with their home county about tax obligations. Certain countries are tax exempt provided you spend more than 6 months out of the county. Check out our dedicated article on this here. We have covered all of this and much much more in our easily downloadable yachting industry guide eBook. We go into detail of where you should start your career and at which time of year. We offer yachting CV templates, a packing list, course list, accommodation and visa information. We break down the various yacht crew departments so that you can see where might be the best fit for you. We explain what dock walking is, how to get day work, salary expectations and most importantly how to secure that first job.
Working on a yacht is not all fun and games; it means spending great lengths of time away from friends and family, putting in extra-long hours as needed and living in a shared, confined space.
For many, the benefits of a yacht job outweigh the negatives. These include travelling the world, the opportunity to make and save a lot of money, making new friends for life and gaining important skills that will transfer over to many other industries.
Yachting is for anyone who loves to go out of their way to please. However, it is open to all sorts of personalities – every boat is different. Take a look at our page on what makes a great superyacht crew for more information.
The minimum age to work on a yacht is 18 years old. While there is a chance of finding work straight after school, we suggest getting some work experience before departing South Africa.
Get Onboard has partnered with some centrally located accommodation providers as well as premium backpackers. If you require accommodation for the duration of your training, just be sure to mention it in an email and we will forward the options.
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