Filipino Seafarers Rejoice! Canadian Ships Now Open to Pinoy Seamen

by | Last updated May 9, 2024 | Career Guide | 8 comments

Thanks to a new reciprocity agreement between the two countries, Filipino seafarers can now work on Canadian merchant vessels. 

This means that Filipino seamen with valid STCW certificates can now work on Canadian-flagged ships. 

They don’t need to undergo training for these documents for them to work on those vessels.

This is a major win for Filipino seafarers. We are one of the biggest suppliers of seafarers in the world. Moreover, many consider us to be the most skilled and experienced in our craft.

It is also a win for the Canadian maritime industry, which has been facing a shortage of qualified seafarers. 

They projected a huge wave of retirement in the seafaring sector in the coming years and inviting manpower from other countries could help address this looming shortage.

There are so many fine prints in this agreement and you may have questions you want to ask. I’ll tackle the best information I can find here to help you out.

Here’s a short video providing an overview of the article:

Who is qualified to work on Canadian vessels?

In order to work on Canadian-flagged vessels, a seafarer must be issued with a Canadian endorsement from Transport Canada.

Unfortunately, not all seafarer ranks are covered in the agreement. 

They will only issue a Canadian endorsement to the Certificate of Competency (COC) for Filipino seafarers who have the following ranks on board:

  • STCW II/1: Officers in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OIC)-NW) on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more
  • STCW II/2: Masters and Chief Mates on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more
  • STCW II/3: Officers in Charge of a Navigational Watch and of Masters on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage, engaged on near-coastal voyages
  • STCW III/1: Officers in Charge of an Engineering Watch (OIC-EW) in a manned engine room or as designated duty engineers in a periodically unmanned engine room
  • STCW III/2: Chief Engineer officers and Second Engineer officers on ships powered by main propulsion machinery of 3,000 kW propulsion power or more.
  • STCW III/3: Chief Engineer officers and Second Engineer officers on ships powered by main propulsion machinery of between 750 kW and 3,000 kW propulsion power
  • STCW IV/2: GMDSS Radio Operators

Aside from your COCs, you will also qualify for a Canadian endorsement if you have Certificates of Proficiency (COP) under the following STCW regulations:

  • STCW V/1-1: Masters, officers, and ratings on oil and chemical tankers
  • STCW V/1-2: Masters, officers, and ratings on liquefied gas tankers

Note that even though these regulations include ratings, their endorsement only applies to masters, officers, and engineers.

An engineer checking the main engine in preparation for maneuvering.

What is a Canadian endorsement?

It’s now clear that one of the most important documents that you must have in order to work on Canadian merchant ships is a Canadian endorsement.

But what actually is it?

A Canadian Endorsement typically refers to the certification or endorsement issued by Transport Canada, the government agency responsible for transportation regulations in Canada, particularly in the maritime sector.

It is a document that attests to the recognition of a foreign seafarer’s certificate of competency (CoC). 

Furthermore, it allows foreign seafarers with a valid STCW CoC issued by a country with which Canada has a reciprocal arrangement to work on Canadian-flagged vessels.

When will my Canadian endorsement expire?

A Canadian endorsement is valid for the same amount of time as your COC.

However, seafarers must renew their COCs which will expire within six months of applying for a Canadian endorsement.

What other certificates Do I Need?

Certificates of Proficiencies (COPs) are always needed whenever you work on ships. This is the same in Canadian ships as well.

Here are the COPs that you must have if you want to sail on their vessels.

  • Basic Safety Training or its Refresher Course
  • Survival Craft and Rescue Boats other than Fast Rescue boat training or its Refresher Course
  • Advanced Firefighting Training or its Refresher Course
  • Medical First Aid and Medical Care

I’m a ship officer. How can I work in Canada?

Having the certificates above is only the start of the journey. You have to undergo the process from application to being hired by one of Canada’s shipping companies.

However, you can’t do it on your own. You need an Authorized Representative (AR) as your sponsor to help you with the paperwork.

Besides, Transport Canada will only process applications that have been supported by an authorized representative.

You won’t be the one submitting the documents or interacting with Transport Canada but the AR. He will assist you and even evaluate you if you’re qualified according to their standards.

Two licensure passers raising their right hand during the oath taking ceremony.
Image: MARINA.

What is an Authorized Representative (AR)

An Authorized Representative (AR) is an individual or entity associated with a Canadian-flagged vessel. 

He has the authority and responsibility to apply for a Canadian endorsement on behalf of a foreign seafarer who holds a valid STCW certificate from a country with which Canada has a reciprocal arrangement.

The AR acts as a liaison between the foreign seafarer and Transport Canada, facilitating the recognition of the seafarer’s certificates for service on Canadian-flagged vessels. 

They ensure that the seafarer meets the necessary requirements and completes the application process for the Canadian endorsement.

How can I find an Authorized Representative?

Since an AR has connections with a Canadian-registered vessel, it’s best to contact a shipping company from Canada and directly ask them about their employment process.

They may then refer you to their own Authorized Representative and start the hiring process.

But you should be very careful in dealing with people online as scammers may take advantage of this.

What I see on how Filipino seafarers can work on Canadian-flagged merchant ships is still through the normal process.

What I mean by this is that a shipping company from Canada may strike a partnership with our local manning agencies.

You should know what the next steps are.

How much is the salary?

Considering that a seafarer’s salary on international merchant ships is already considered high compared to local land-based workers, Canada even offers bigger pay.

Unlike the normal contract we have with foreign shipping companies, seafarers in Canadian-flagged vessels are paid at either hourly or daily rates.

Ratings, particularly ABs, have a salary of around 295 Canadian dollars per day. That’s about 9,000 Canadian dollars per month in gross income.

Salary payment comes in twice a month or every 15 days and after taxes, they get around 3,200 Canadian dollars or 6,400 Canadian dollars per month. Yep, they are taxed at around 3,000 Canadian dollars.

Chief Cooks net at around 7,000 Canadian dollars per month after taxes.

Marine assistants, or Oilers in our vessels, have the same rate as ABs which is around 6,400 Canadian dollars per month (after taxes).

Second mates and third engineers are paid around 530 Canadian dollars per day or around 10,000 Canadian dollars per month after taxes.

They also get rejoining bonuses and refunds for their training expenses.

I got this figure from Caylman Channel’s Youtube who is a Filipino seafarer in Canada. You should check out his content and subscribe to his channel.

But these are rates if you’re directly hired by shipping companies in Canada. These numbers could change depending on many factors like the company, types of ships, and their partnership with local manning agencies.

Sailors and stevedores shoveling money on the pier beside a huge cargo ship.

Documents needed to apply for a Canadian endorsement

If you are interested, you must submit these documents to your AR and he will, in turn, forward them to Transport Canada for evaluation.

  1. An Application for a Canadian Endorsement form duly completed and signed by the seafarer;
  2. A Declaration of the Authorized Representative form completed and signed by the AR of a Canadian-flagged vessel that intends to employ the seafarer;
  3. Evidence of sufficient knowledge of one of the official languages which is French or English;
  4. A medical certificate;
  5. Evidence of sufficient knowledge of Canadian maritime laws;
  6. The CoC, and if applicable the STCW endorsement (all pages);
  7. Valid CoPs, if applicable (all pages);
  8. Valid certificates of training, if the corresponding certificates of proficiencies were not obtained;
  9. A valid passport; and
  10. An unaltered passport-sized photo, taken within the last six (6) months (the name and the complete address of the photographer and the date the photo was taken must be included on the back of the photos).

Work and live in Canada as a Seafarer

There’s another important detail that every applicant must know before diving in and it actually benefits you if your ultimate plan is to live and settle in Canada.

We all know that many Filipinos are migrating to Canada nowadays to find better opportunities. Seafarers can take advantage of the reciprocal agreement to live and work in Canada as a seafarer.

The important detail that I mentioned is that you must be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada or hold a valid Canadian Work Permit to be eligible for a Canadian Endorsement.

I confirmed this with an email since I know some of my friends who might be interested in this opportunity.

May the winds be in your favor.



  1. Anonymous

    Do you know any licensed local manning agency in the Philippines that have hiring process regarding the reciprocal agreement between PH and Canada?

    • Gibi

      Hello. I haven’t caught wind of any manning agency who has the reciprocal agreement made for their crew. I think the best course of action for those interested in this process is to directly email Canadian shipping companies and ask them about this including their manning partners in Ph.

      Alternatively, you can ask someone from Canada if they know some companies needing Filipino seafarers.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi? If I got onboard to a Canadian Ship and work as their seafarer. Am I eligible to apply a residency?

    • Gibi

      Hello. In order to work in Canada as a seafarer, one of its requirement is that you must be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada or hold a valid Canadian Work Permit to be eligible for a Canadian Endorsement.

      If you can get a valid Canadian Work Permit, you may be eligible to apply for residency. Or you can apply for a residency first then work there as a seafarer.

  3. Anonymous

    How to apply as seaman in canada..
    Im currently seaman in phils..

    • Gibi

      Look for manning agencies in the Philippines affiliated with Canadian principals.. Also, check online and see if Canadian shipping companies are hiring Filipino seafarers.

  4. Emer U. Consumo Jr

    How to apply

    • Gibi

      Hello. You may interact with licensed manning agencies or Canadian shipping companies and inquire them about their hiring process regarding the reciprocal agreement between Ph and Ca.


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