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  • How to Get Your OUPV License

    February 17, 2024

    How to Get Your Commercial OUPV Captain's License


    Common Questions About the Six-Pack Captain’s License

    1. Why Get a Six-Pack Commercial Captain’s License?

    If you are looking to offer fishing and sailing charters, become a certified instructor or provide guide services commercially, then the Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels Captain's License (OUPV) is for you. This license is the most popular license and is commonly referred to as a Six-pack because it allows the holder to take up to six paying passengers and crew out on the water.

    OUPV/Six-pack Captain's Licenses are issued in three forms:

    • An inland license allowing the holder to operate commercially on bays, sounds, rivers, and lakes
    • A Great Lakes and inland license: this license allows you to operate on both the Great Lakes and inland waterways
    • A near coastal license: this permits you to operate on both inland waterways as well as near coastal waters out to 100 miles offshore

    To learn more, check out this infographic: How to Get Your Six-pack License.

    2. What Are the Inland, Great Lakes, and Near Coastal License Requirements?

    Although the boating experience for each version of the six-pack OUPV license varies slightly, the basic minimum requirements include:

    • Being at least 18 years old
    • Having U.S. citizenship is not required; however, non-U.S. citizens must be able to show lawful admittance to the United States for permanent residence
    • Having a minimum of 360 days boating experience; 90 of those days must have occurred in the last three years (the Coast Guard calls this recency)
    • Passing a physical and a drug test
    • Holding a valid adult CPR and basic first-aid card
    • Obtaining a Transportation Workers Identification Credential or TWIC card; this is a background check done by Homeland Security
    • Passing the Mariners Learning System OUPV/Six-pack course

    3. How Do You Study for the OUPV License Test?

    The Mariners Learning System suite of Coast Guard-approved courses offers an alternative to the regular testing process held at the USCG regional exam centers. These OUPV/Six-pack license courses are structured for those pursuing a professional career in commercial boating operations and for recreational boaters wishing to increase their knowledge.

    Upon completion of your OUPV/Six-pack course, taking our proctored exam, and meeting other USCG captain’s license requirements such as documenting boating experience, passing a physical examination, and passing a drug test, you simply submit within one year the MLS certificate of completion and application package to the nearest Coast Guard regional exam center. Upon their review and approval, you will be issued your license.

    4. Captain’s License vs. Boating License: What’s the Difference?

    A boating license is different from a captain’s license, so it’s important not to use these terms interchangeably. A boating license or boating education certificate is proof that you have completed a boater safety certificate. Boating license requirements vary by state. A captain’s license, on the other hand, is issued by the U.S. Coast Guard and enables the holder to operate a commercial vessel. The Six-pack USCG captain’s license enables a boater to carry up to six paying passengers, while the Master license is required for more than six commercial passengers.

    5. How Long Does It Take to Get a Six-Pack Captain's License?

    Our OUPV/Six-Pack course is designed to be a 63-hour course. However, because our courses are self-paced, the average student takes around 25-30 hours to complete the OUPV/Six-Pack course. The Master level licensing program is designed to be a 87-hour course; the average student takes 50-55 hours. We have had students finish in as little as three days, three weeks, three months, or up to a year. The great thing about MLS is that you are in charge of your own schedule.

    6. How Many Days Do I Need for the OUPV License?

    For an OUPV/6-pack captain’s license, you need 360 days of documented sea time. Ninety of those days must have occurred within the last three years. You can learn more by watching our video on documenting your sea time.