International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 was adopted on 7 July 1978 and entered into force on 28 April 1984. The main purpose of the Convention is to promote safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment by establishing in common agreement international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers.

Amendment Procedure

Amendments to the 1978 STCW Convention's technical Annex may be adopted by a Conference of STCW Parties or by IMO's Maritime Safety Committee, expanded to include all Contracting Parties, some of whom may not be members of the Organization.

Amendments to the STCW Annex will normally enter into force one and a half years after being communicated to all Parties unless, in the meantime, they are rejected by one-third of the Parties or by Parties whose combined fleets represent 50 per cent of world tonnage.

The STCW Convention & Code 2010 Manila Amendments

The Manila amendments to the STCW Convention and Code were adopted on 25 June 2010, marking a major revision of the STCW Convention and Code. The 2010 amendments are set to enter into force on 1 January 2012 under the tacit acceptance procedure and are aimed at bringing the Convention and Code up to date with developments since they were initially adopted  and to enable them to address issues that are anticipated to emerge in the foreseeable future.
Amongst the amendments adopted, there are a number of important changes to each chapter of the Convention and Code, including:
  • Improved measures to prevent fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency and strengthen the evaluation process (monitoring of Parties' compliance with the Convention);
  • Revised requirements on hours of work and rest and new requirements for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as updated standards relating to medical fitness standards for seafarers;
  • New certification requirements for able seafarers;
  • New requirements relating to training in modern technology such as electronic charts and information systems (ECDIS);
  • New requirements for marine environment awareness training and training in leadership and teamwork;
  • New training and certification requirements for electro-technical officers;
  • Updating of competence requirements for personnel serving on board all types of tankers, including new requirements for personnel serving on liquefied gas tankers;
  • New requirements for security training, as well as provisions to ensure that seafarers are properly trained to cope if their ship comes under attack by pirates;
  • Introduction of modern training methodology including distance learning and web-based learning;
  • New training guidance for personnel serving on board ships operating in polar waters; and
  • New training guidance for personnel operating Dynamic Positioning Systems.

The STCW Code

The regulations contained in the Convention are supported by sections in the STCW Code. Generally speaking, the Convention contains basic requirements which are then enlarged upon and explained in the Code.

Part A of the Code is mandatory. The minimum standards of competence required for seagoing personnel are given in detail in a series of tables. Chapter II of the Code, for example, deals with standards regarding the master and deck department.

Part B of the Code contains recommended guidance which is intended to help Parties implement the Convention. The measures suggested are not mandatory and the examples given are only intended to illustrate how certain Convention requirements may be complied with. However, the recommendations in general represent an approach that has been harmonized by discussions within IMO and consultation with other international organizations.


List of STCW Parties - Confirmed STCW Parties (regulation I/7)

MSC.1/Circ.1163/Rev.9*   15/06/2015  International convention on standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers(STCW), 1978, as amended – Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended, confirmed by the Maritime Safety Committee to have communicated information which demonstrates that full and complete effect is given to the relevant provisions of the Convention.

List of STCW Parties - Independent evaluation (regulation I/8)

 MSC.1/Circ.1164/Rev.15*  17/06/2015  International convention on standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended – Reports of Independent Evaluation.
* Please note: the above Circulars are revised as and when information from Parties is evaluated and approved by the Maritime Safety Committee.

Maritime training institutions approved by Member States

The STCW Convention requires that training leading to the issue of a certificate is 'approved'.

The International Maritime Organization does not approve any training courses or institutes. This is a privilege and responsibility of Member Governments who are Parties to the STCW Convention.

Approval is normally given by the Maritime Administration of an STCW Party in accordance with the Convention requirements.

Amongst other things, the Convention requires that training and assessment of seafarers are administered, supervised and monitored in accordance with the provisions of the STCW Code; and those responsible for training and assessment of competence of seafarers are appropriately qualified in accordance with the provisions of the Code.

The initial approval of a maritime training programme by a Maritime Administration might include assessment of items such as those listed below in order to ensure that the training institute or training programme meet the appropriate STCW Convention standards:

  • Scope and objectives of the training - e.g. to meet the requirements of STCW regulation II/1.
  • Minimum entry standards - age, sea experience, other training, medical fitness etc.
  • Intake limitations, student/staff ratio etc.
  • Staff qualifications, experience in subject, teaching skills, assessment skills.
  • Facilities and equipment necessary to meet objectives.
  • The written programmes, syllabus, timetable and course material.
  • Method of training: lectures, practical, videos etc and percentage of time devoted to each.
  • Assessment: methods: examination, practical, continuous assessment etc.
  • Certification to be issued on completion to meet STCW requirements.
  • Maintenance of student and other records.
  • Security of information.
  • Quality standards system requirements to ensure standards are maintained.