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Discharge Books are not a primary identity document. They are initially issued by the flag state of the vessel on which a seafarer is employed or the flag state of the country of origin and are intended to be a record of service.


Application for the first issuance of a Discharge Book has to be passed through an owner’s representative, such as a captain or appointed manager. You must have a contract to apply.


The entries record the dates and ports of joining and leaving the vessel. It cannot be filled in retroactively.


Unless otherwise proscribed by the issuing flag state, a Discharge Book can be carried by the seafarer onto other vessels under different flags, and the entries will still be valid as a record of service on all vessels recorded in the Book.


It is essential to understand that in the context of a Discharge Book issued by a Red Ensign Group flag state, “service” relates only to the period of employment in a vessel. The nature of service is not attested to, except that it was performed in a certain rank. That is why you will still need to obtain Sea Service testimonials.


A Discharge Book is a valid record of a seafarer’s employment as required under MLC, 2006, and may form part of the evidence to be submitted for validation of sea service at various stages of a yacht crew member’s career.


As stated above, it is not intended to be an identity document with the same international acceptance as a passport. It may be useful when travelling on a seaman’s ticket to attest to an airline representative that the ticket holder is a genuine seafarer. Some non-European immigration authorities may prefer to see a Discharge Book before issuance of a local shore pass.

If you are a UK citizen or you work on a UK-flagged yacht, you can apply for an MCA Seaman's Book.

If you work on a Malta (TM)-flagged yacht, you can apply for a Transport Malta Seaman's Book.

If you work on a Cayman Islands (CI)-flagged yacht, you can apply for a Cayman Islands Seaman's Book.

If you work on a Marshall Islands (MI)-flagged yacht, you can apply for a Marshall Islands Seaman's Book.

If you work on an Isle of Man (IOM)-flagged yacht, they are no longer issuing Seaman's Books. They now offer the Seafarer's Record of Sea Service.

If you work on a British Virgin Islands (BVI)-flagged yacht, you can apply for a British Virgin Islands Seaman's Book.

If you work on a Cook Islands-flagged yacht, you can apply for a Cook Islands Seaman's Book. The application is to be sent electronically to

The Digital Service Record Book (D-SRB) is intended to provide detailed evidence of approved courses taken, qualifications obtained, and the associated specific types of sea service, such as actual sea service, stand-by service, yard service, etc. The D-SRB is issued by the PYA only.


All entries are made only after testimonials regarding the service to be entered have been scrutinized and checked. It can be filled in retroactively.


The OOW 3000 GT Training Record Book for Deck is published by the MCA and locally printed by the PYA for members and is part of the requirements for obtaining an OOW 3000 Yacht CoC.


Entries are certified by the Captain or Chief Officer on board. It contains a detailed record of each task required.

Latest update: 09/08/2023

Seaman Discharge Book (SDB) and others

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