STCW – The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers

The STCW Convention

After being adopted on 7 July 1978, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers came into force on 28 April 1984. This worldwide convention ensures that a uniform standard of training is achieved across all countries in the world.


The STCW sets out qualification standards for masters, officers, and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. It does not, however, apply to seafarers serving on warships, naval auxiliaries, or any other government owned or operated ship engaged in non-commercial service.

All you need to know about STCW - Fire Fighting

The Convention aims to promote the safety of life and property at sea, as well as the protection of the marine environment, by establishing internationally recognised standards of training, certification, and watchkeeping for seafarers.

What does STCW stand for?

STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping.


1995 Revision

On 7 July 1995, the International Maritime Organisation undertook a comprehensive review of STCW, which came into force on 1 February 1997. Those who already held certification were given the option to renew their certificates in accordance with the former rules of the convention, while anyone entering training programmes after 1 August 1998 was required to meet the standards outlined in the amendments.

The key changes included in the 1995 amendments covered:

– The enhancement of port state control

– The communication of information to IMO to allow for the mutual oversight and consistency in the application of standards

– Quality standards systems, oversight of training, assessment and certification procedures.

Students practising Sea Survival techniques in the Solent

Manila Amendments

In 2010, the Manila amendment laid out the latest training standards and certification for seafarers. Providing a major revision to the STCW Convention and Code, the amendments came in to force in 2014 and introduced Security Awareness training to ensure that those new to the industry had the relevant guidance surrounding on-board security-related issues.

Effective as of 1st January 2012, with a transition period lasting until 2017, the most significant amendments were:

– New rest hours for seafarers

– New grades of certificates of competency for able seafarers in both deck and engine

– New and updated training

– Mandatory security training

– Additional medical standards

– Specific alcohol limits in blood or breath

Looking up at the sails on-board a yacht

STCW 95 vs. STCW 2010

STCW 2010 has essentially replaced STCW 95, offering the most up to date code of practice for commercial seafarers.

The most notable change is the introduction of revalidation training, making it compulsory for seafarers to have documentary evidence that proves they have completed their basic safety training within the past five years.

This means you will be required to undertake STCW revalidation training every five years, or else you will not be permitted to work on board a ship.

Jobs requiring STCW Certification

If you are applying for a job on a commercial ship, ferry, cruise ship, or Superyacht, you will be required to complete an STCW Basic Safety Training Course. This course is the legal minimum requirement for anyone working on a commercial vessel over 24 metres.

The types of training and qualifications you will need will depend upon the position you’re applying for and the role you’ll have once you’re on board.

Do you need to renew the STCW?

Effective from 1st January 2017, all seafarers are required to renew their training in Fire Fighting and Sea Survival every 5 years. If your certification is over five years old, you will need to complete an updated training course to be permitted to work on board.

How do you renew STCW?

In order to renew your STCW 95 or 2010 certification, you will need to complete the relevant refresher training.

The refresher training doesn’t take as long as the initial training to complete and covers areas such as Proficiency in Personal Survival Techniques and Proficiency in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting.