What is the ENG1 Medical Certificate and Why Do I Need it?

21 June 2021 By Holly Overton
Credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Holly is the editor of Dockwalk. She grew up racing sailboats in England before switching to the world of superyachts and moving across the pond to Fort Lauderdale.

Ask any crewmember and they’ll tell you straight: yachting is hard work. It’s not just the early mornings and late-night watches, but the job requires a high level of physicality, particularly so for those working on deck. The ENG1 certificate ensures that every member of the crew, interior and exterior, meets the minimum standard of health to work at sea. Here is why having an ENG1 Medical certificate is so important (and necessary)...

What is the ENG1 Medical Certificate?

Under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), “no person may work as a seafarer unless that person has been issued with a medical fitness certificate” and the ENG1 is the most widely accepted medical certificate a person can hold. The ENG1 certifies whether or not you are suitably fit to fulfill your duties on a seafaring vessel, determined by a comprehensive top-to-toe medical assessment set by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). All seafarers are asked to complete this medical fitness test to minimize the risk of medical emergencies at sea.

Do I Need an ENG1 Medical Certificate?

Yes. Anyone looking to work on a luxury yacht will need to possess a valid crew medical certificate. The MCA  says, “if you are employed on a ship, and it’s your normal place of work, then regulations require you to have a medical examination.” The ENG1 isn’t the only medical certificate accepted in the yachting industry but it is the most widely recognized. You can view an up-to-date list of equivalent medical certifications on the MCA website.

As well as adhering to the Maritime Labour Convention, yacht insurance companies will also require vessels to meet a certain standard of safety which, in most cases, will mean that all crew must be fully STCW certified and hold a valid ENG1 medical certificate or the equivalent.

It is also important to note that while the ENG1 is not necessarily a prerequisite for the STCW Basic Training course, it is beneficial to find out as early as possible if there is any medical reason that would prevent you from working on a yacht or restrict you from performing certain tasks on board. 

What to Expect From an ENG1 Medical Assessment

The ENG1 Medical assessment will offer a comprehensive review of your health. It is painless and non-invasive and will be conducted by an MCA-approved medical professional. While the assessment is nothing to worry about it does have the potential to uncover an underlying health condition that could prevent you from working on a yacht. A standard examination can take anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes and will include the following:

  • Measurement of height and weight
  • A standard eye test and color blindness test
  • A hearing test
  • Ear and throat evaluations
  • Inspection of teeth and gums
  • Questions on your medical history, including drinking and smoking habits
  • A urine sample to test kidney function and blood sugar levels
  • Reflex and hernia testing
  • Listening to your heart and lungs, testing blood pressure and heart rate

What Happens if I Fail the ENG1 Examination?

At the end of the ENG1 Medical Assessment you will be issued with a certificate that will certify you as one of the following:

  • fit without restrictions (unrestricted)
  • fit with restrictions (limiting your work to certain jobs or locations)
  • temporarily or permanently unfit

If you pass the ENG1 and you are confirmed fit without restrictions, you’ll be handed your certificate that same day. If you are found to be temporarily unfit, your examining doctor might require additional information about your medical history and delay their decision. 

If you are found to be permanently unfit, you will receive an ENG3 Notice of Failure/Restriction, which will last a minimum of five years. You may undertake another ENG1 medical assessment within the five-year period if you can prove that the condition that caused you to fail has been reversed. If you fail the Ishihara test, which tests for color blindness, there is a further Color Assessment Diagnosis (CAD) that can assess the severity and type of color vision loss. Color blindness may prevent you from nighttime watchkeeping.

What Should I Bring With to an ENG1 Medical Examination?

If this isn’t your first time undertaking an ENG1 examination, you will need to bring your current medical certification. If you have taken an ENG1 previously and failed, you should let the examining doctor know. 

  • details of any medication you are currently taking
  • any glasses or contact lenses
  • contact details for your doctor
  • any reports or letters from your GP, if you’ve recently been to a hospital, or are under a consultant
  • an official form of ID with a photo: a passport, a photocard driving license, a discharge book

How Long is the ENG1 Certificate Valid For?

If you are over the age of 18 and pass the basic medical assessment, your certificate will last two years. However, if you develop a health condition that affects your ability to work within those two years, the certificate will become invalid.

What is the Difference Between an ML5 and an ENG1 Certificate?

Crew looking to land a job on a luxury yacht will need the ENG1 along with an STCW Basic Training certification. However, for crew working on a non-seagoing passenger ship or a domestic seagoing passenger ship, there is the ML5 medical report, but holders of this certificate will be limited to 60 miles offshore.

How Much Does an ENG1 Medical Examination Cost?

The MCA has set a maximum fee of £105 for the ENG1 Medical Certificate.


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