New Licensing Requirements - STCW Updates

The Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention have brought about a number of changes. Seafarers are required, every five years, to provide evidence of having maintained the required standards of competence to undertake the tasks, duties and responsibilities working on board a ship. The provisions will be implemented gradually until 1 January 2017, when all the amendments are to be in place. One of the most significant amendments is the requirement for all seafarers to update some elements of the mandatory STCW safety training.

If you are serving on board a ship and are qualified in any of the following you must, as of January 2017, have documentary evidence of either completing the training course or updating (refresher) your STCW Qualifications.

The STCW courses that are required to be updated are:

  • Personal Survival Techniques – half day
  • Fire Prevention & Fire Fighting – 1 day
  • Advanced Fire Fighting – 1 day
  • Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boats – 1 day
  • Fast Rescue Boats – 1 day

In order to be applicable for refresher training, seafarers must provide their previous STCW certifications.

Please note that all prerequisites for STCW training still exist, therefore in order to undertake Advanced Fire Fighting a seafarer must first have a valid STCW Fire Prevention & Fire Fighting certificate. Furthermore, to undertake Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boat training a seafarer must first have a valid STCW Personal Survival Techniques and finally a seafarer must have a valid STCW Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boat certificate to undertake Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boat training.

The following STCW courses that do not currently require updating are:

  • Elementary First Aid
  • Security Awareness
  • Designated Security Duties
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities


Course Changes since STCW ‘78 as amended 1995 Refresher course required under STCW
Personal Survival Techniques No Yes
Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting No Yes
Advanced Fire Fighting No Yes
Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boats No Yes
Fast Rescue Boats Yes Yes
Elementary First Aid No No
Security Awareness New 2010 No
Designated Security Duties New 2010 No
Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities Yes No


Updating of the Proficiency in Medical Care is not currently required under the STCW Code however on EU Member State flagged vessels, the captain and any person delegated to use the medical type A supplies must receive special training updated at least every five years.

Although it is not mandatory updating before 1 January 2017, it is important that individuals schedule their training well in advance before places become limited as deadline approaches. It is essential because if a ships’ crew cannot prove evidence of having met the updating requirements from the STCW Manila Amendments, the vessel may fail port state inspection.

Some schools which hold these courses are:

Warsash Maritime Academy, UK

Sea Safety Training Group, SA

Maritime Professional Training, Fort Lauderdale, USA