The ENG1 Medical Exam

So you are thinking of a career working on super and mega yachts? Before you will be allowed to work on most yachts you will need to have completed and passed the ENG1 medical exam and received an ENG1 certificate (valid for two years).

While the idea of a medical exam conjures up images of a lot of poking and prodding and for most seems like a bit of a daunting experience, this article aims to give first-timers a clear idea of why the medical is required and what is involved, showing that it is really quite quick and painless. Nothing to worry about! 

What is the ENG1?

The ENG1 is a medical exam set by the MCA (Marine and Coastguard Agency) to establish whether or not anyone working on a seagoing vessel has any medical conditions that might cause him or her to be unable to perform certain duties at sea. The idea behind this is to minimize or prevent potential hazards at sea. For example, someone who is colour blind would not be able to recognise certain safety and danger marks and signals that rely on colours and in the interest of safety, would need to be excluded from such duties. 

Why do I need it?

According to the MCA “every seafarer on a seagoing ship is required to have a certificate of medical fitness”.  Normally, this certificate would be the ENG1.

Besides for obvious safety reasons, insurance companies require that yachts comply with safe manning requirements in order for the yacht to be insured. This means that all crew must be fully STCW compliant and to obtain an STCW certificate you will have to have completed an ENG1 medical exam.In short, to obtain work on a yacht, you will have had to pass your ENG1 at some stage.   

While it isn’t a requirement for actual crew training, it is a good idea to do the ENG1 before you start training in order to identify any of these medical conditions that could prevent you from working in the yachting industry. You wouldn’t want to spend money on sailing courses only to fail the medical afterwards. Since the ENG1 is a pre-requisite of the STCW which would be done before or as a part of your crew training, many crew training centres would recommend doing the ENG1 before beginning your training anyway. 

What does the ENG1 Medical Exam involve?

Most doctors conduct the exam slightly differently and at a different pace so most people’s experience of the medical varies slightly. Some are finished in about twenty minutes while others have said their exam lasted an hour. It is probably safe to expect the medical to take around 30 to 40 minutes. A typical ENG1 might go as follows:

  • The doctor or nurse will ask for a urine sample and will test kidney function and blood sugar with this.
  • The doctor will ask you about your drinking habits and current and past medical conditions.
  • Your height will be measured and recorded.
  • Your weight will be measured and recorded.
  • A typical eye test will be conducted. The doctor will ask you to cover your right eye and read from a chart across the room, then your left eye. If contacts or glasses are worn the test will first be done without them and then again with the contacts in/glasses on.
  • After the eye test a colour blindness test will follow. This involves reading a number in a group of coloured dots. An example of this can be soon on Wikipedia here.
  • After this he may examine your ears and throat.
  • Next your reflexes will be tested in the standard way, with the doctor tapping your joints softly to make sure your reflexes are normal.
  • After this the doctor will ask you to remove your shirt and listen to your heart and lungs, test your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Finally he will gently press on your abdomen in different places, asking you to cough each time to test for hernias.
  • Once you are fully clothed again the doctor will perform a standard hearing test – you will sit in a sound proof booth with headphones on and press a button when you hear a beep that plays through either the left or right side of the headphones at varying volume levels.
  • Depending on where in the world you are from you may be required to have chest  X-rays done as well. This is to check for Tuberculosis.

What does it cost?

The upper limit for the cost of the ENG1 has been set at 80GBP but could vary slightly depending on where you are from and whether or not you will need to have x-rays or other tests done. Some prices from around the world are below:

UK: £ 80
South Africa: R1 500                       
Spain: € 120

Where can I take the medical? 

While many doctors may have the equipment and knowledge to carry out the above exam, only MCA approved doctors will be able to issue the ENG1 certificate once you have passed the medical. Luckily there is a large number of MCA approved doctors throughout the UK and at least one or two in most countries where you are able to do any kind of crew training or RYA exams.

Read more about where to do your ENG1 in the Yachting Career section: List of Doctors Approved to Conduct the ENG1 Medical Exam

To summarise

  • The ENG1 is a requirement for anyone wanting to work on super or mega yachts.
  • The certificate is valid for 2 years.
  • The medical is relatively quick and un-invasive.
  • It shouldn’t cost you much more than the equivalent of £ 80.

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