Seafaring essentials: your complete guide to ENG-1 medical examinations

ENG-1 medical

At Heathrow Medical, we offer a range of specialist travel medicals, including the ENG-1 medical examination. Living, working, and staying safe onboard a sea vessel requires not just skill and knowledge, but also a clear certification of medical health, so explore the process and requirements of this important examination today for a safe and successful career at sea. 

ENG-1 medical 

This seafarer medical fitness certificate, which is known in the UK as a MCA ENG-1, is an essential requirement for individuals working on ships and serves as a testament to their physical and medical fitness for the demanding conditions at sea.  

If you are employed in any capacity on a ship, including a fishing or commercial vessel that will be travelling away from shore, then you will be required to have this medical examination. This specialised medical check-up ensures that seafarers are physically fit enough to perform their day-to-day duties, or to respond safely during an emergency, and also checks for any previously unrecognised or new medical conditions that require urgent treatment or pose a risk to themselves, their fellow crew members, or passengers.  

Why do I need this medical? 

Living and working at sea is a complex and demanding role, which requires the ability to constantly react to changing conditions and circumstances, and these comprehensive medical requirements ensure the safety of everyone onboard. The examination covers a broad spectrum of health assessments, which we will explore below, to evaluate overall health and find any potential medical conditions that could impair a seafarer’s ability to carry out emergency procedures or present problems under the unique and often challenging conditions at sea.  

These primarily include issues relating to the heart or cardiovascular system, diabetes, previous history of strokes or unexplained loss of consciousness, difficulty communicating by radio or phone, and conditions that can cause sudden incapacity, and the medical is intended to ensure that anyone in charge of, or working on, a seafaring vessel is in the best physical condition to maintain safety standards.  

What do I need to prepare? 

This examination involves a series of tests and evaluations that have been compiled to meet international safety guidelines to ensure seafarers are medically fit for sea service. This appointment should take no longer than 40 minutes to complete  

To start off, you will be asked to bring several documents with you ahead of time. These include your current ENG-1 certificate if you have one, any glasses that you use, details of any medication that you’re currently taking, and the contact details for your GP. You must also bring an official form of photographic identification with you as well to verify your identity, such as your passport, drivers’ licence, or seafarer’s book.  

During your appointment at our medical centre, you will need to provide a detailed medical history to the medical examiner and complete a questionnaire, and it is important that you are ready to discuss any previous or existing conditions before moving on to the physical fitness test.  

What do ENG-1 medicals include? 

The MCA ENG-1 medical aims to identify any conditions that could be exacerbated by the maritime environment or pose a risk to safety at sea, ensuring that all crew members are fit for their roles. The initial conversation and questionnaire are therefore followed by a thorough medical examination, evaluating:  

  • Your eyesight, including a colour blindness test and an evaluation of your distance and near vision.  
  • Your hearing abilities. 
  • Your height and weight. 
  • Your blood pressure. 
  • Your respiratory function, by listening to your lungs.  
  • Your kidney function and blood sugar levels, through the analysis of a urine sample.  
  • Your ears, nose and throat.  
  • Your teeth and gums.  
  • Your reflexes, as part of the physical examination.  

Please note that if your BMI is greater than 30.0 then you may be required to complete a separate Chester Step exercise assessment in accordance with the MCA guidelines. If you are aware of any existing conditions that could cause you to fail this medical, then it is important that you make our team aware in advance of the examination for advice or further examination.  

Next steps 

Once the examination has been completed, you will be issued with a certificate by a member of our team, which will either classify you as fit without restrictions, with restrictions, or temporarily or permanently unfit to perform your seafaring duties.  

The ENG-1 certificate, usually issued by our team on the day of the examination, validates your medical fitness for a specified period, typically up to two years, after which a re-examination is required. However, if you are under 18, you will require re-examination every year, and the certificate will become invalid if you develop a condition that prevents you from safely working.  

Whilst there are many conditions that will restrict your ability to perform your duties safely, there are certain types that will not automatically result in a failed ENG-1. For example, if you are found to have acute colour vision problems, then further (CAD) testing may be required.  

Booking an ENG-1 medical with Heathrow Medical 

At Heathrow Medical, our ENG-1 medicals are priced at £115, including VAT, so if you are due for your next certification, contact us today to book an appointment at a time that suits you.  

Seafarer Medicals
Previous reading
Leading the way in workplace wellness with the new occupational health framework
Next reading
Understanding the medical barriers to your cabin crew career