Little-Known Coast Guard Procedure Permits Extension of One Year Grace Period For License Renewal

For mariners who may, for whatever reason, want or need more time to renew a license, a Coast Guard “Document of Continuity” can be obtained to extend the grace period indefinitely. Coast Guard licenses (“credentials”) are issued for five-year terms. Upon their expiration, the mariner has a one-year grace period in which to renew without having to re-test. If a mariner needs to extend that grace period for any reason, the Coast Guard will, upon application, issue a Document of Continuity, providing that the Coast Guard receives the application prior either to the expiration of the license itself, or to the expiration of the one-year grace period. An example from recent experience shows how the procedure operates. A licensed mariner, with a reserve commission in the United States Navy, was called up for active duty in the Far East three months before her license expired. Because she did not want to have to engage in a renewal procedure long distance during her reserve service, she applied for and received a Document of Continuity. That document will permit her to serve her time in the Naval Reserve and, upon returning home, to renew her license following the usual procedure.

To get a Document of Continuity, the mariner must complete a Form CG-719-B, and send it along with a copy of his or her license to a Coast Guard Regional Exam Center. The document extends the one-year grace period indefinitely. The mariner may then renew the license at any time in the future by following the normal license renewal procedure. Note, however, that a Document of continuity does not stand in the place of a renewed license, meaning the mariner cannot sail until the license is actually renewed.