USCG Drug Testing

USCG drug testing ensures a safe work environment while discouraging the use of illegal substances by marine personnel.

The United States Coast Guard drug testing policy requires drug testing for every employee. All transactions with the U.S. Coast Guard require a DOT 5-panel drug test with SAMHSA-approved drug testing labs, except for transactions involving an increase of scope, duplicates, and international endorsements.

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Information for USCG Drug Testing

USCG Drug Testing Regulations

USCG drug testing regulations require employees to choose one of the following options for drug testing:

The employee must provide the results of an approved drug test.
The employee will submit a letter revealing pre-employment drug testing.
The employee will submit a letter attesting to participation in random drug testing programs.

USCG drug testing includes dangerous drugs screened with a DOT 5-panel drug test. Dangerous drugs include amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and Phencyclidine (PCP). The Coast Guard drug test examines urine for dangerous substances. Urine samples must be analyzed by SAMHSA-approved drug testing labs.

Coast Guard drug testing requirements include pre-employment, random, reasonable cause, post-accident, and periodic drug testing.

Coast Guard Drug Testing Policy

Each employer is required to submit a written drug and alcohol testing policy to their employees. The policy will state that all personnel must submit to drug and alcohol testing. Employees include all full-time, part-time, seasonal, contracted, and year-round workers.

Employers are not required to terminate an employee for a failed drug test on their Coast Guard drug testing policy, however, the policy must state that any employee with a drug test violation will be immediately removed from their safety-sensitive responsibilities. Each employer is responsible for deciding whether a failed drug test will result in termination.

USCG drug testing policies should also clearly state the employer’s position on the possession of drugs, paraphernalia, the use of prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs.

Crew members should also sign a statement that they have read and agree to the Coast Guard drug testing policy.

USCG Drug Testing Program

Once the drug testing policy is set, employers should develop a USCG drug testing program. The program should include:

A primary collection facility
Specimen collection procedures
Designated SAMHSA-approved drug testing labs
A designated MRO (Medical Review Officer)
Details for each drug testing category crew members will submit to

Coast Guard Background Check for Pre-Employment

Employees that will work in safety-sensitive positions must submit to background checks. After obtaining the employee’s permission with a signature, employers will check for previous drug and alcohol testing information that includes alcohol tests that resulted in more than 0.04 percent blood-alcohol level or higher, positive drug tests, drug test refusals, and other violations of DOT drug and alcohol testing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What drug test does the Coast Guard use?

USCG drug testing requires a DOT 5 panel drug test analyzed in SAMHSA-approved drug testing labs. A Coast Guard drug test looks for dangerous substances that include amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and Phencyclidine (PCP).

Does the U.S. Coast Guard perform random drug tests?

Yes. Coast Guard drug testing regulations for random drug and alcohol testing must meet 46 CFR 16.230 requirements. Employees in safety-sensitive positions with the U.S. Coast Guard must be enrolled in random drug testing programs.

This Information Is Not Intended for Legal Purposes

The information provided on this page is intended for your own knowledge, and should not be used for legal matters. Please seek the advice of a legal expert regarding legal advice for drug testing laws in your state.


“Drug Test Requirements for a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).” United States Coast Guard, National Maritime Center,
“Frequently Asked Questions: Drug Testing.” United States Coast Guard, National Maritime Center,
“Drug Testing.” United States Coast Guard, National Maritime Center,
“Marine Employers Drug Testing Guidance.” United States Coast Guard, National Maritime Center,
“Title 46.” Code of Federal Regulations,