International Exchange Program

Sea Cadets in the international program

From the shores of Australia to the ports of the United Kingdom, the naval stations of India, and the northern waters of Sweden, each year, the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps has the privilege to send cadets from across the United States to our Sea Cadet partner nations around the globe. These Sea Cadets serve as ambassadors for America.  Cadets are selected for each exchange following a rigorous application process.

International Exchange Program FAQ

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    What is the International Exchange Program (IEP)?
    The IEP is a Sea Cadet program that provides the cadets with an opportunity of a lifetime — travel to another country to meet like-minded cadets from different nations. Since 1999, with the exception of two years due to COVID restrictions, we have been sending cadets and adult volunteer escort officers (EOs) across the globe every summer as Outbound Exchanges and hosting other countries’ cadets and escort officers here in the US at the Inbound Exchange.
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    Why should I go on a Sea Cadet International Exchange?
    Participants earn training credit towards advancement, just like any other training. All cadets participating in an exchange will earn the International Exchange Program Ribbon. For outbound exchanges, travel from your closest major airport to the host country is paid for by the Sea Cadets. In addition to practicing maritime and teamwork skills, while on an exchange, cadets participate in a variety of activities, including many that they would not experience as a cadet otherwise, such as petting a koala in Australia, dragon boating in Hong Kong or exploring ancient ruins in England. They learn about different countries’ military, culture, and traditions and share Sea Cadet stories. Best of all, the cadets make lifelong friends!
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    What outbound exchanges are available in 2024?

    We are currently anticipating exchanges with multiple countries. We plan to send 2 adult volunteers and 4 cadets to each country. We expect outbound exchanges with the following countries this summer. Dates are being confirmed and will be announced when the cadet application window opens on April 5, 2024.

    • South Korea
    • Canada
    • Japan
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    What countries are coming to the United States?

    The US Inbound Exchange will be held June 20 - July 2, 2024, in Washington, DC. This year we will invite  international guests from Australia, Canada, and the Cayman Islands. We will select 4 US cadets to serve as hosts, using the same application process as the outbound exchanges.  Passports are NOT required for this exchange.

    The minimum age for Inbound is 15 years old for cadets, maximum age is 17. The IEP Team fills US Inbound Exchange adult staff billets, so we will not select adult volunteers for this training.

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    Who is eligible to participate?
    Because of its unique nature, unlike most advancement trainings, participants are selected for IEP through a rigorous application process. Sea Cadets applying to go out of the country must be aged 16 or 17 years old during the entire exchange, be PO3 or above, and have their Commanding Officer’s approval to apply. Applicants for the US Inbound must be 15, 16, or 17 years old, be PO3 and above, have attended Petty Officer Leadership Academy (POLA), and also must have their Commanding Officer’s approval. Adult volunteers may apply as long as they are not listed as a Midshipman or Auxiliarist in Magellan, and have the approval of their chain of command. There are no other rank requirements, but relevant experience will be considered for selection.
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    Do I get to choose the country I want?

    Cadets: Cadets are selected for exchanges based on final applicant ranking and interviews, followed by their country preference. Cadets will have the opportunity to rank the countries for which they want to be considered. So if you are the #1 ranked cadet, you will be given your first choice.  There will be a total of 12 cadets going on outbound exchanges this summer, but only 4 per country. Make sure you consider all of the countries to maximize your chances for selection. If you want to host the inbound exchange in the U.S., you can still be selected to go to an outbound exchange as long as they do not overlap.

    Adult volunteers: To meet the program's requirements and operational needs, adult volunteers will be asked to provide their availability rather than specifying country preferences. This approach helps us ensure the most effective and meaningful allocation of our volunteer resources.

    For both cadets and adults, once you have been offered a country, you will have a choice to either accept or decline the exchange. However, you will not be given another choice of country.

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    Where do I go to apply?

    All applications will be completed online.

    Cadets: Submit your application online only through the Sea Cadet application.

    Adult Volunteers: Submit your application online only through the Adult Volunteer application.

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    When can I apply?
    While we are still waiting for official invitations from the host countries, we can provide you with the following information to help you prepare for your application now. The window to apply is relatively short, so you will want to be ready when it opens!  
    Cadets Adult Volunteers
    Application window: 5 April - 19 April 2024 22 March - 5 April 2024
    Finalist interviews: 26 - 28 April 2024 12 - 14 April 2024
    Notification of selection: 29 - 1 May 2024 15 - 17 April 2024
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    What will be required in the application?
    See the 2024 IEP Application Information document (linked on this page).
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    What can I do now to prepare for when the cadet application window opens?
    • Request your official high school transcript that includes the 2023 fall semester/trimester.
    • Your CO will be required to give their approval for you to go on an exchange. Talk to them now to make sure they are willing to do so. Confirm that you have their correct email address.
    • Confirm you have the correct email address for your personal reference. They can be any adult who has worked with you in any capacity who can speak unbiasedly about your suitability for this program (e.g., Teacher, coach, mentor, employer, youth minister, division officer from a Sea Cadet training). No family members can serve as your personal reference.
    • Prepare your dress uniform (not khakis or NWUs) for the required photo to be uploaded with your application. Follow the instructions closely on the application
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    Can I submit more than two references?
    No, as we want to maintain consistency between applicants, only one CO recommendation and one personal reference will be accepted. There is no method to submit additional recommendations. Any letters or additional documents emailed to iep@seacadets.org will not be considered.
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    I am the XO and the CO is my brother. What should I do for the CO reference?
    If your commanding officer is a relative, you should get a recommendation from your executive officer (XO).  Since you are the XO, you should go up one level and get the recommendation from your Regional Director.
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    I was an escort officer 10 years ago. Can I still get selected?
    Yes, repeat participation is possible, as we need adults with experience to serve as the senior escort officer. However, to allow more adult volunteers the opportunity to participate, they will not be selected for exchanges in consecutive years.
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    My cadet and I want to go on an exchange together. Is that allowed?
    While you both can apply for the same exchange in the same year, no parent-child selections will be made to the same exchange. Only one of you may go on that exchange. However, you may go on different exchanges in the same year.
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    My passport expires 2 weeks before the required expiration date. Can I still apply?
    Passport expiration dates are not waiverable.
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    I applied for a passport and should have it well before the start of the summer exchanges. I have a receipt and a copy of the passport application. Can I still apply?
    Because our travel agency has to have your passport to purchase airline tickets soon after selection, valid passports must be in hand at the time of application submission. No exceptions. Passport applications, receipts, passport cards, renewal applications, etc. may NOT be submitted in lieu of a passport.
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    I will turn 18 on the last day of the exchange. Since it is so close, can I get a waiver?
    The age requirements are set by the countries, therefore they are not waiverable

What Do Our Cadets Say?

“Attending international exchanges, traveling far distances for advanced trainings, I learned that there is so much out there, so much in this world. I wanted to see more of it. I got a bug for [world cultures] in the Sea Cadets and it fueled a lifelong hunger for adventure.”

Chloe Caso, former Sea Cadet Chief Petty Officer (CPO)

What will I do? Who should go?

Cadets will participate in a variety of training opportunities with local Sea Cadet programs. This can include sailing, watch standing, military drill, history and heritage class, learning about government, adventuring, and physical training.
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Cadets will have the opportunity to tour the host nation, learn about international teamwork, train alongside the brightest international Sea Cadets, and gain an appreciation for the global maritime force. Most importantly, cadets will make lasting friendships across a variety of cultural backgrounds.
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Keep an adventurous spirit and an open mind. You will be representing the Sea Cadets and the United States. Have an open mind, humility, and a sense of teamwork. You will be surprised how much you can learn in such a short time! 

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Where can I go?

In a typical year, we send cadets to over ten international exchanges. In previous years, we have sent cadets to Bermuda, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Sweden, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.


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