Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

STCW recognition of prior learning policy—MT03

This procedure outlines the process for Registered training organisations to offer recognition of prior learning to students of AMSA approved courses.


As defined in the National standards for RTOs:

Recognition of prior learning means an assessment process that assesses the competencies of an individual that may have been acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning to determine the extent to which that individual meets the requirements specified in the training package or VET accredited courses.

  1. Formal learning refers to learning that takes place through a structured program of instruction and is linked to the attainment of an AQF qualification or statement of attainment—for example, a certificate, diploma or university degree.
  2. Non-formal learning refers to learning that takes place through a structured program of instruction, but does not lead to the attainment  of  an AQF  qualification or statement of attainment—for example, in-house professional development programs conducted by a business.
  3. Informal learning refers to learning that results through experience of work-related, social,  family,  hobby or leisure activities—for example the acquisition of interpersonal skills developed through several years as a sales representative.

For clarification of other terms and abbreviations used within this procedure refer to MT 01 definitions.

Associated documents

In the case of the Australian Maritime College (AMC) reference should be made to the accredited curriculum documents.


Our policy is for an applicant for a Certificate of Competency or Certificate of Proficiency issued under MO70 to MO74 to have completed a training course at an AMSA approved RTO based on the AIS Marine Training Package (MTP).

The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 requires all RTOs, including AMSA approved RTOs, to offer recognition of prior learning  to students. The standards for the offering of recognition of prior learning that are contained in the AQF National Principles and Operational Guidelines for Recognition of Prior Learning are acceptable to AMSA.

Our policy is to require approved RTOs to align their recognition of prior learning  procedures with the AQF National Principles and Operational Guidelines for recognition of prior learning, and should include the following:

All RTOs must clearly include the details of their recognition of prior learning  in their application when applying for approval from us. This area will be specifically evaluated by us.

Our policy, in order to ensure full compliance with international STCW requirements, is for recognition of prior learning  to only be granted after assessment to the same standard and same quality assurance as required after full normal course completion.


Formal learning (between AMSA approved RTOs)

Direct credit transfer is accepted by AMSA between AMSA approved RTOs which have the same competencies on their scopes as other AMSA approved RTOs.

Competency transfer (from non-AMSA approved RTOs)

Competency transfer from a non-AMSA approved RTO requires the applicant to have previously completed an equivalent or superior course and has passed a challenge test that is equivalent to the RTO’s final assessment (see note below for details).

Challenge test requirements relating to AMSA certificate of competency recognition of prior learning 

STCW short courses

Candidates who hold STCW short course certificates issued by an overseas college, and those in Australia who hold NSCV Part D elements of shipboard safety certificates, will be required excepting those listed below, to complete the FULL applicable AMSA approved STCW short course. The recognition of prior learning process of challenge testing these candidates is not a practicable option, as the short courses are by nature practical hands-on courses. For a candidate to demonstrate competence they would have to complete the appropriate course in its entirety.

Special cases

Elementary First Aid - STCW Code Section A-VI/1, Table A-VI/1-3

We will allow recognition of prior learning—no challenge test—of either:

For Senior First Aid and Workplace Level 2 First Aid certificates, the valid period applies.

Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting – STCW Code Section A-Vl/1, Table A-Vl/1-2

We will allow recognition of prior learning  (no challenge test) if the applicant has completed either the RAN Advanced Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence (NBCD) course (including 2 days practical fire fighting at HMAS Creswell) or the RAN Advanced Combat Survivability (ACS) course (including the fire fighting component).

Overseas students studying for a higher level certificate

We will allow recognition of prior learning (no challenge test) if the applicant has completed a Deck Watchkeeper or Engine Watchkeeper course overseas and has applied to study in Australia for higher level certification.

Engineer Watchkeepers – STCW Code Table A-III/1


STCW Code Table A-III/l Column 1 - recognition of prior learning for Workshop Skills Equivalent:

  1. Maintenance and repair of electrical and electronic equipment.
  2. Use of appropriate hand tools, machine tools and measuring instruments for fabrication and repair on board.
  3. Maintenance and repair of shipboard machinery of equipment.

We will allow recognition of prior learning  (no challenge test). AMSA approved RTOs must carry out recognition of prior learning  in accordance with Marine Order 72 Schedule 2, taking into account any relevant education, skills or practical experience of the person. If required to meet the requirement of STCW Reg III/l the candidate must be provided with a gap or bridging training schedule to complete the recognition of prior learning  process.

Last updated: 28 May 2021