This page is intended for use by Marine Medical Examiners (MME), who play a critical role in Transport Canada (TC)’s Marine Medical Program. This page provides information for current MMEs and qualified individuals wishing to become MMEs.
On this page:
- Marine Medical Certificate
- Issuance of Provisional Medical Certificates
- Unfit determination
- Policy on drug use
- Common errors found in Marine Medical Examination reports
- Gender identification
- Other obligations
- Conditions allowing non-designated MME physicians to perform Marine Medical Examinations
- How to submit Marine Medical Examination reports and obtain forms
- Modernizing the marine medical process
- Need help?
- Related links
Under the Marine Personnel Regulations, Part 2, the Minister of Transport may designate a physician as a Marine Medical Examiner, provided they meet the criteria set out in TP 11343 – Seafarer Medical Examinations - A Physician Guide (PDF, 1.56 MB) and successfully complete the required training seminar.
Transport Canada (TC) anticipates the next virtual training seminar for new physician applicants will take place in spring, 2023. Recurrent training seminars will also be offered virtually as required.
Marine Medical Certificate
A Marine Medical Certificate is a document that demonstrates a seafarer has met both the medical and physical standards required by Canadian law. Seafarers must hold either a valid Marine Medical Certificate or a Provisional Medical Certificate to work on board a vessel. In order to hold either of these certificates, Canadian seafarers must meet a specified standard of medical fitness. Additionally, they must produce these certificates upon demand to the Minister of Transport.
A Canadian seafarer seeking a marine medical certificate must arrange an appointment with a TC designated Marine Medical Examiner for a complete physical assessment. Marine Medical Examiners can be found in the following link: Marine Medical Examiner Search.
Division 8 of the Marine Personnel Regulations (MPR) applies to the Medical Examination of Seafarers. Marine Medical Examiners assess the fitness of seafarers using the Transport Canada publication TP 11343 – Seafarer Medical Examinations - A Physician Guide (PDF, 1.56 MB). TC’s marine medical guide for physicians is currently being updated and will be published online once complete.
Before a seafarer is examined by an MME, the seafarer must:
- be at least 16 years of age at the time of the examination;
- have a valid Candidate Document Number (CDN) (Streamlined Application Process for a Candidate Document Number);
- inform the Marine Medical Examiner of any:
- refusal to issue a medical certificate;
- limitations on a medical certificate previously or currently held by the seafarer; and
- submit any medical certificate in their possession.
Transport Canada’s Marine Medical Unit cannot process Marine Medical Examiner Reports unless they have a valid Candidate Document Number. Reports without a valid CDN will be returned.
All fees for medical examinations and associated tests are the responsibility of the seafarer.
Issuance of provisional Medical Certificates
Once completed by a Marine Medical Examiner, the provisional Marine Medical Certificate is reviewed for validation and quality assurance by a team of Transport Canada health professionals. Seafarers meeting the minimum medical fitness are issued a Marine Medical Certificate valid for up to five (5) years from the date of initial medical examination for domestic voyages, and up to two (2) years for international voyages (Standard for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping - STCW). The medical certificate attests that the seafarer meets the medical standards required to perform the duties associated with their certificate of competency, and is recognized internationally. Limitations may be placed on the marine medical certificate in certain situations.
If the Marine Medical Examiner deems the seafarer unfit, the reasons for this determination must be provided to the seafarer in writing, as per Section 275(1) of the Marine Personnel Regulations.
Policy on drug use
Under Canada’s Criminal Code, a person cannot operate, assist in the operation of, or have the care or control of a vessel while impaired. This applies whether the vessel is moving or not, and whether that person is drunk, high, or both. In Canada, the use of cannabis, its derivatives, or any potentially performance-impairing substance or drug is not permitted for 48 hours prior to the performance of ship-board duties. The Marine Medical Examiner shall advise the seafarer of the 48-hour prohibition during the examination.
The use of any substance (legal or not, and while at work or not) could affect the seafarer’s ability to work, and risk their own and the crew’s safety. Seafarers must be honest and open about their historical and current use of alcohol, cannabis, and any other legal or illegal drugs/substances, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, during the medical examination. If the seafarer shares information of this nature, the Marine Medical Examiner shall include, within the report, relevant details regarding frequency, dosage, and timing of usage in relation to employment on board.
More information on using cannabis and operating a vessel
Common errors found in Marine Medical Examination Reports
We value Marine Medical Examiners as important partners in promoting health and safety among seafarers, and recognize that you are extremely busy. To support you in your work, the online system will automatically validate reports submitted online, and help you avoid errors or submitting incomplete reports, saving you both time and effort.
Below is a list of common issues when submitting paper reports. Please check your reports for these errors before submitting them, as reports may be sent back to your office if there are errors or omissions.
- No Candidate Document Number (CDN) on the Marine Medical Examination Report. The seafarer must provide the CDN to the Marine Medical Examiner.
- Mailing address of the seafarer is not verified.
- No checkmark in the “Hearing – Audition” section of Part B.
- No checkmark in the “Optic Fundi” section of Part F.
- No checkmark in the “Normal or Abnormal” checkbox in Part F of the ‘’Urinalysis’’ section.
- No checkmark in the “Yes or No” checkbox of Part F of the “Near Vision” section.
- Missing information in Part F of the “B/P” section.
- Missing checkmark in the “Normal or Abnormal” checkbox in Part F of the ‘’Hearing Examination’’ section.
- Missing information in Part F of the “Uncorrected” fields section when there is information entered in the “Corrected” fields.
- No information on the frequency/amount/dosage of cannabis and derivatives used while working on and off duty.
Currently, both paper and online Marine Medical Examination Reports offer only two options for the GENDER identifier. TC is looking to expand these options to better reflect gender identity, while maintaining compliance with STCW requirements.
If a Marine Medical Examiner, or any other physician or optometrist, is made aware of a health condition of a certificate holder that may pose a risk to maritime safety, they are obligated to report it to the TC Marine Medical Unit. Before being examined, the seafarer is obligated to advise a physician or optometrist if they hold a Marine Medical Certificate.
Conditions allowing non-designated Marine Medical Examiner physicians to perform Marine Medical Examinations
A seafarer may request a physician who is not a designated Marine Medical Examiner, or a registered nurse may perform the medical examination, if the nearest Marine Medical Examiner is located 200 km or more from:
- the area of operation in Canadian waters of the vessel on board which the seafarer is employed or seeks to be employed; or
- the seafarer’s place of residence.
If you are a non-designated Marine Medical Examiner with a confirmed need of marine medical report forms, you may request a very limited number by emailing MMEassistanceMEM@tc.gc.ca.
How to submit Marine Medical Examination reports and obtain forms
Transport Canada is accepting paper reports by mail within two (2) weeks of completion.
To obtain paper reports and/or requests for publications, etc., please send an email to MMEassistanceMEM@tc.gc.ca.
Modernizing the marine medical process
As part of the modernization of the Marine Medical Unit, an online tool has been developed. This allows Marine Medical Examiners to submit their Marine Medical Examiner Reports online following a marine medical evaluation. The system will automatically generate a 6-month Provisional Medical Certificate based on the information and the date of the report. We are currently piloting this project with select Marine Medical Examiners, however all Examiners will eventually have to submit reports digitally.
We are also consulting with industry and stakeholders, including indigenous communities, so we can better understand and respond to the challenges of ensuring Marine Medical Examiners are available from coast to coast to coast.
TC will continue to provide updates on the work of the Marine Medical Unit. We have a dedicated email to make it easy for you to communicate with us if you have questions or require assistance: MMEassistanceMEM@tc.gc.ca.
Help for Marine Medical Examiners: MMEassistanceMEM@tc.gc.ca
Email our Marine Medical Unit: TC.Marinemedicine-Medecinemaritime.TC@tc.gc.ca
Fax: (613) 993-4935
Marine Medical Unit
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks St
Ottawa ON K1A 0N8
Recent Ship Safety Bulletins
- Ship Safety Bulletin: Implementation of extended certificate validity for marine medical certificates for voyages in domestic waters SSB No. 05/2022
- Ship Safety Bulletin: Guidelines for the review of an applicant presenting with, or with a history of, kidney stones for the issuance of a marine medical certificate SSB No. 15/2021
- Ship Safety Bulletin: Verifying certificates and endorsements online SSB No. 02/2019
- Ship Safety Bulletin: Legalization of cannabis in Canada and vessel operation - SSB No. 12/2018
- Marine Personnel Regulations (SOR/2007-115)