Europe has it all for the boating enthusiast. Stunning beaches, quiet waterways, bustling historical cities, vineyards and high speed areas. But it can be a bit of puzzle to find the right boating paperwork. Every countries has it own laws, changes to international laws, preferences and interpretations of the rules. Don't let that discourage you! The wonders of the European Waterways are waiting.

The text below is to the best of my knowledge. If someone in a country far-far-away from here does not agree and fines you you I will offer you my sincere apologies but not much more. 

Things to remember when you read this:

  • The European Unions does a lot of things, but it does not do much for skippers. As a consequence, don't expect any rule to be interchangeable between countries.
  • The International Certificate of Competence (ICC) is not a European boating certificate. It is only valid when a country has decided to sign the treaty.
  • Several factors are decisive for the boating licence that you need: your nationality (which may or not be your country of residence), the vlag under which the boat sails and the country in which you are.
  • In real life, the authorities on the waterways just want to know that you know what you are doing. Whatever the law states, if you have a shipshape boat, sail on the starboard side of the canal, with all equipment ready to go and with a well studied chart and pilots books in front of you, typically they will let you carry on. (a fresh cup of coffee also helps) But fines can be steep, and insurance issues can be complicated.
  • If you think leisure paperwork is complicated, know that it's even worse when you go commercial. I am allowed to operate a combination of six push barges, weighing 14.400 ton, 23m wide and 269,5 meters in length. But if I want to teach on a 10 meter motorcruiser in Belgium I need a separate certificate.... 

So, here we go, keep reminding yourself it's worth the effort!

Every country in Europe has its own rules to operate leisure boats. In The Netherlands and Belgium, you don't need any paperwork for a boat when it is under 15 meters in length and not capable of going faster than 20 km/hr. (It doesn't matter how fast you go, if it can go faster you need paperwork)

The RYA has a wealth of knowledge, so its worth to become a member, even if you're not British. 

For France, you need paperwork if the engine is larger than 4,5 kW or 6.1 HP. 

For Germany, you need a certificate above 5 hp.
etc, etc, etc

Since there are differences in the courses and exams to get a boating licence between countries, every country thinks its own certificate is better. So most countries do not accept other boating licences. There are some exceptions, the Dutch accept a Yachtmaster certificate as equivalent to their Klein Vaarbewijs, and RYA course completion certificates are accepted in many countries, especially in the Mediterranean. 

Luckily many countries have signed the ICC treaty. Any country who has signed the treaty can issue an ICC to its Nationals, and all countries who have signed the treaty will accept that ICC. Generally, this works really well. But there can be exceptions: the Dutch accept an RYA ICC for boats under 24 meter, even when you can operate a larger boat in your own country. There are 131 footnotes describing the exceptions

Still reading and still interested? Great! Now the fun stuff, the RYA can issue ICC's after a practical course. That is, if you are NOT from one of these countries

Which courses allow you to do what?

  • Level 2 course
    2 day for powerboats up to 10 meters in length. Coastal + inland (after a CEVNI theory exam, which is not to difficult)

  • Inland Waterways,
    2 day course. Motorcruisers (In NL up to 24 meter). Inland waterways only, but since we are also a powerboat training centre we can offer you an upgrade to coastal.

  • Dayskipper / Yachtmaster SAIL: sailboats + motoryachts up to 10 meter
  • Dayskipper / Yachtmaster POWER: motoryachts of all lengths. (In Netherlands: up to 24 meter)

If you have experience you can do an ICC assessment during which you convince an assessor that you can handle a boat safely and reasonably competently. A good assessment will take half a day, including a bit of theory. If you have your own boat, we can come over for an assessment. If you don't, it's a bit of a puzzle because we don't hand over the wheel for our teaching boats until we know your capabilities. Renting a boat for just one exam makes it very costly. Starting 2018 we will offer assessment days during which we hire a boat and share the cost over multiple candidates. 

Our newsletter is our main way of organising courses. Every couple of months we send one with possible course dates.