A good word for renewal-by-mail

Tom Forbes, a maritime lawyer and part-time sailing instructor in New Orleans with a 100-ton auxiliary sail license, reports that his efforts to renew his Coast Guard license by mail, went very smoothly.
Here is what he has to say about his experience:

I’d like to put in a good word about the renew-by-mail process I just went through, on my little 100-ton license, now 7th issue.  Previously the renewals were kind of a “black hole”, you sent it all in and hoped it didn’t bounce back for “further info”, but you never knew where you stood, or when things would be reviewed, particularly for minor medical conditions which still required a waiver.  And good luck trying to get anyone on the phone at your local REC, it was busy or on hold all day, all the time.

Now the process is much more transparent.  I used the new Medical Exam form, and though it’s a lot longer, it’s also much clearer as to what’s needed, and what comments from the physician are required.  And the NVIC telling doctors what to do is excellent, I just had to print out a few pages (especially the sample medical report with doctor’s comments) for her and it went pretty smoothly, though it took an extra appointment after the medical exam just to fill the whole thing out.

The tracking system, and the status emails from NMC are good, you know your application is being worked on and is moving.  And phone calls to “I ask NMC” were answered pretty promptly and courteously.  The whole process was much easier for an applicant like me, who is on his own and not working through a school or employer who does a lot of these.

It took 7 weeks from submission to get my new license (sorry, “credential”) in the mail.  Not bad at all.  Renewal is always a pain in the neck, but the new system is much less painful.  My only suggestion would be to let the applicant know about delayed issue (until the expiration date of the old license) at the beginning.  I found out about it too late to use it.  Not a big problem, but moved my renewal date 7 weeks earlier than before.

By Professional Mariner Staff