- Patrick Maflin
A Seafarer medical report ML5 is a medical certificate that’s required for seafarers working onboard a ship in the UK.
It confirms that a seafarer is medically fit to work at sea.
In particular, the ML5 medical certificate if for:
- Individuals applying for, revalidating, or changing their MCA Boatmaster's Licence or certificate.
- Individuals applying for a Royal Yacht Association (RYA) commercial endorsement for working on code vessels.
- Crew members working on a seagoing or domestic passenger vessel.
- Individuals working on a fishing vessel under 24m in length that is not subject to inspection in a foreign port, at sea for more than 72 hours or operating more than 200 miles from the coastline of the UK or beyond the continental shelf.
In this article, we take a deeper look into the certificate, and uncover who requires one, where to get one and what’s involved.
- What is an ML5 Medical Certificate?
- Who Needs an ML5 Medical Certificate?
- When Should I Book My ML5 Medical Exam?
- Where Can I Get an ML5 Medical Exam Done?
- How Much Does an ML5 Medical Exam Cost?
- What Happens During an ML5 Medical Exam?
- Is Drug Screening Part of an ML5 Medical Exam?
- Reasons Why People Fail ML5 Medical Exams
What is an ML5 Medical Certificate?
An ML5 Medical Certificate is a medical document that confirms a seafarer's medical fitness to work onboard a sea vessel.
Although similar in nature, this is not the same as an ENG 1 medical certificate.
An ML5 is issued following a thorough medical examination by a registered medical practitioner who is approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) or another recognised flag state authority.
The ML5 Medical Certificate indicates that the seafarer meets the medical standards required by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the MCA, as well as any additional requirements specified by the seafarer's employer.
The ML5 Medical Certificate is an important document for seafarers as it’s a legal requirement for anyone working on a ship.
The certificate is valid for up to two years, although it may be renewed or suspended if the seafarer's health condition changes or if they’re injured or fall ill while working at sea.
Who Needs an ML5 Medical Certificate?
If you work on board a ship or yacht, you will need to have a valid ML5 medical certificate to demonstrate that you are fit to work at sea. This includes:
- Master of a passenger ship (Class IV or V) that doesn't go to sea.
- Master of a commercial vessel that doesn't go to sea.
- Master or crew member of a small commercial vessel with Area Category 2 to 6 certification, operating within 60 miles of a safe haven.
- Crew member or other personnel (e.g. catering staff) working on a domestic passenger ship (Class VI or VIA) that goes to sea.
- Individuals applying for, renewing, or modifying their MCA Boatmaster's Licence or certificate.
- Individuals applying for a commercial endorsement from the Royal Yacht Association (RYA) to work on code vessels.
This certificate sets out minimum requirements for working conditions, including medical fitness, for seafarers.
The ML5 certificate is a medical report completed by a certified doctor.
The process includes a thorough physical examination of the seafarer and a review of their medical history, as well as tests that may include:
- height and weight.
- physical health.
- mental health.
- colour vision.
- blood pressure.
- lung function.
- other relevant medical conditions.
Having an ML5 medical certificate is crucial for seafarers, as it demonstrates that they meet the minimum medical requirements for working on board a ship or yacht.
Without this certificate, seafarers may not be permitted to work at sea and could risk losing their job or being denied employment opportunities.
The certificate is valid for up to two years, depending on the age and medical condition of the seafarer, and must be renewed periodically.
When Should I Book My ML5 Medical Exam?
It’s recommended to book your ML5 medical exam well in advance of the expiration date of your current ML5 medical certificate.
The exact time frame will depend on the requirements of the employer or organisation you are applying to and the time it takes to receive your results and certificate.
However, it’s generally advisable to book your medical exam at least several weeks before your current certificate expires to ensure that you have sufficient time to complete the exam, receive your results, and submit your application form.
It’s important to note that if you continue to work on a vessel without a valid ML5 medical certificate, you may be in breach of regulations and could face legal ramifications.
Where Can I Get an ML5 Medical Exam Done?
ML5 medical examinations must be conducted by a doctor who’s approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to carry out seafarer medical examinations.
These doctors are known as MCA Approved Doctors or Maritime Medical Practitioners.
It's important to book your medical exam with an approved doctor to ensure that your ML5 medical certificate is recognised by the MCA.
How Much Does an ML5 Medical Exam Cost?
In the UK, the cost of an ML5 medical exam can range from £65 upwards.
It’s important to note that additional fees may apply for any necessary laboratory tests or other medical evaluations that are required to complete the examination.
At the time of the medical, you are advised to bring along your:
- A photo ID.
- Your driving glasses/contact lenses and prescription.
- Details of any ongoing medical conditions, including any medication you are taking.
- ML5 Medical Certificate/Form.
What Happens During an ML5 Medical Exam?
During an ML5 medical exam, the doctor will carry out a medical examination to assess your fitness to work at sea.
The examination will include a review of your medical history and any ongoing medical conditions, as well as an assessment of your physical and mental health.
The doctor may ask you questions about your lifestyle, such as whether you smoke or drink alcohol, as well as questions about any previous injuries or illnesses.
They may also check your vision and hearing, take your blood pressure and perform a general physical examination.
In addition, the doctor may require you to provide a urine sample to test for any underlying medical conditions.
The examination will typically take around 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
Once the examination is complete, the doctor will complete the ML5 medical certificate/form, indicating whether or not you are fit for seafaring work aboard a yacht.
If there’s any concerns about your fitness to work, the doctor may refer you for further testing or assessment.
Is Drug Screening Part of an ML5 Medical Exam?
Drug screening is not typically part of an ML5 medical exam.
The purpose of an ML5 medical exam is to assess the overall health and fitness of a person to perform their duties safely and effectively onboard a vessel.
However, depending on the specific requirements of the employer or maritime authority, drug screening may be required as a separate test or as part of a broader medical examination.
It's always best to check with the relevant authority or your employer for specific requirements.
Reasons Why People Fail ML5 Medical Exams
There’s several reasons why people fail ML5 medical exams, including:
Poor eyesight is a common reason for failing an ML5 medical exam.
If your eyesight doesn't meet the minimum requirements, you may need to wear corrective lenses or glasses to pass the exam.
If you have a history of cardiovascular issues or high blood pressure, it may affect your ability to pass the medical exam.
Hearing problems can also be a reason for failing the exam.
If you have hearing loss, you may need to wear hearing aids to pass.
If you have any medical conditions that affect your ability to work on a vessel or affect your safety, you may fail the exam.
Certain medications can disqualify you from passing the medical exam, especially if they have side effects that can affect your ability to work safely on a vessel.
Drug use can be detected during the medical exam, if carried out, and can disqualify you from getting an ML5 medical certificate.
Alcohol use can also affect your ability to pass the medical exam.
If you have a history of alcoholism or abuse, you may need to provide evidence that you are receiving treatment and are stable before you can pass the exam.
Before embarking on a career in yachting, obtaining the ML5 medical certificate is one of the primary requirements.
Understanding the process and acquiring the certificate will enable you to smoothly navigate through the initial stages of your yachting career.
And remember, if you have questions about a career in yachting, including anything from getting certified to work at sea, to calculating tax on your earnings, we want to hear from you.
At Marine Accounts, we’re happy to guide everyone, whether you’re just starting your career in yachting, or are a seasoned yachtie wanting to ask us anything relating to seafarers tax.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Disclaimer: Any advice in this publication is not intended or written by Marine Accounts to be used by a client or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party matters herein.