How to Get Your OUPV/Six-pack USCG Captain’s License

If you are looking to offer fishing and sailing charters, become a certified instructor, or provide guide services commercially, then the Operator of Uninspected Passenger (OUPV) Captain's License is for you! Also known as the Six-pack, this is the most popular type of captain’s license.

Infographic: One-Minute Guide to Getting Your OUPV License

Infographic: One-Minute Guide to Getting Your OUPV License Infographic: One-Minute Guide to Getting Your OUPV License
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Common Questions About the Captain’s License Test

1 What is a Six-pack captain's license?

The Six-pack captain’s license, also known as the OUPV license, is a designation awarded by the United States Coast Guard that allows the holder to take up to six paying passengers and crew out on the water. The OUPV/Six-pack license is issued in three forms: Inland, Great Lakes & Inland, and Near Coastal.

  • The Inland Captain’s License allows the holder to operate “commercially” on bays, sounds, rivers, and lakes.
  • The Great Lakes & Inland License allows you to operate on both the Great Lakes and inland waterways.
  • The Near Coastal Captain’s License permits you to operate on both Inland waterways as well as Near Coastal waters (out to 100 miles offshore).

2 What is an OUPV license?

The Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV) license is another name for the USCG Six-pack captain’s license, which allows the holder to operate a commercial vessel with up to six paying passengers.

3 What size boat requires a captain's license?

The necessity of a captain's license to legally operate your boat is unrelated to the size of your boat. It depends on whether you are carrying passengers for hire. However, some insurance companies may require a captain's license for yachts over a certain size.

4 What are the Six-pack private boat captain’s license requirements?

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a minimum of 360 days boating experience. Ninety of these days must have occurred in the last three years. The Coast Guard calls this recency.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or be able to show lawful admittance to the United States for permanent residence if not a citizen.
  • Pass a physical exam and a drug test.
  • Hold a valid adult CPR and Basic First Aid card.
  • Obtain a Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC card), which includes a background check done by Homeland Security.
  • Pass a USCG-approved OUPV/Six-pack captain's license course like the one offered by Mariners Learning System.

Although these are the basic minimum requirements, the boating experience for each version of the private boat captain’s license varies slightly.

5 Can I get my Six-pack captain’s license online?

You can use an online course to study for your Six-pack captain’s license, then remote test online. The Mariners Learning System suite of USCG-approved courses offers an alternative to having to take time off, drive to a classroom, and sit in a class with an instructor. These courses are structured for those pursuing a professional career in commercial boating operations and for recreational boaters wishing to increase their knowledge.

Once you complete the course, you will have to sit a proctored exam remotely when it's convenient for you. Any Day. Any Time. Any Place.

6 How hard is the OUPV test?

The test for the OUPV/Six-pack captain’s license is challenging and requires you to possess a lot of knowledge about being a boat captain, but it is less difficult if you prepare. Some captains report that the questions related to plotting are especially hard and recommend studying those thoroughly. If you take the Mariners Learning System course, you will have a good sense of what the questions on the exam will be and should be well-prepared.

Next Steps for Getting Your Operator of Uninspected Passenger License

If becoming a USCG licensed boat captain sounds right for you, here's what you can do next:

Ready to Get Your Captain's License?

The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Licensed Captain

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Learn how to get your Captain's License, determine which license is right for you, and understand the USCG license requirements.

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