Do you need a boat licence? 
Confused by all the terms? The International Certificate of Competence, ICC, Boat License & CEVNI 
You may have realised by now that the ICC or International Boat License (as it’s sometimes referred to) can be somewhat confusing, i.e. knowing what type of boat license, or more importantly what size of vessel requires a boat license, or what qualification is required for boating here in the UK, abroad in Europe or further afield can all become a bit of a mine field. 
Firstly let’s begin by explaining what is the International Certificate of Competence, ICC or Boat License actually is. The ICC or boat license is in reality a European Union (EU) accepted certificate through the United Nations (UN) resolution 40. Currently this has been accepted by all countries except for Belgium. 
In laymen’s terms the ICC is a documentary assurance between governments that the holder has passed a formalised training course or has undergone an assessment of their boating skills to achieve the appropriate boat license. Essentially the training course you undertake should cover all the fundamentals enabling you to operate a vessel safely on and around international waters. In short the training required is in accordance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations, which is governed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), but please note the International Certificate of Competence is not actually a qualification! 
CEVNI – Code Europeen des Voies de Navigation Interieure 
The CEVNI License covers the rules of the road and regulations you must know if travelling the interconnected waterways throughout Europe.  
To obtain the CEVNI license you need to sit a test. This can be taken at most RYA recognised training centres for a small fee. Once qualified your ICC will need to be to endorsed indicating so.  
Some people undergoing training for an ICC will sometimes apply to sit the CEVNI at the same time. 
So do you actually need a boat license? Unfortunately the requirements for the ICC varies from country to country so as a very general rule an ICC is required for all Inland Waterways in Europe and coastal waters of the Mediterranean. However, in Northern European coastal waters the ICC may not be required. Because of this there obvious confusion and some variations arising; therefore it is always advisable to check to see what is acceptable in foreign states before visiting. If hiring or chartering boats abroad on holiday then the International Certificate of Competence (ICC) will normally be accepted and is therefore advisable to have anyway. 
Presently, there are a few general types of license; this is in the form of either power or sail, which is for up to 10 metre or over 10 metre vessels. The up to 10 metre ICC sailing boat license and up to 10 metre ICC power boat license are as they imply. Providing the overall length of the boat does not exceed 10 metres. This license will normally permit you to operate a vessel on most foreign coastal and inland waters. It is worth noting that a Personal Water Craft (PWC) can be driven if you hold a over 10 metre ICC sailing boat license, but is not recognised if you hold the ICC power up to or over 10 metre, meaning you can't operate a small tender off the back of a larger boat unless you have the appropriate endorsement on your ICC! 
To put this into perspective, the 10 metre ICC Boat License is mainly aimed at individuals that may be starting out in the boating world, but will still also apply to those that do have experience but don’t have anything on paper to prove their competence, i.e. a boat license. 
Many Royal Yachting Association (RYA) qualifications will allow you to apply for an ICC on successful completion of the relevant course. If however you do not hold any of these recognised certificates but have boating know-how, the ICC can also be obtained independently. This can take the form of either a half day assessment or by attending an ICC specific course, which can take a few days depending on experience. 
ICC Validity - The ICC currently lasts for 5 years and will need to be renewed via the RYA; you do not need to re-train unless your ICC has lapsed. 
Currently, here in the UK anyone can purchase a boat up to 24 metres in length or 80 tonnes in weight, and operate it in and around our coast and on most inland waterways without any sort of training or boat license or certification, or so people believe! Actually everyone on the sea comes under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations. And considering regulations are law this means you can be, and people have been, prosecuted under these regulations! 
If this all looks a bit long winded... please give us a call and we can talk you through the process and give you a little more detail on our 1 day direct access and 2 and 3 day course options. Contact us on 02392 346075 / 07985 089973 or email us at 
ICC / Boat License Eligibility: 
The International Certificate of Competence is available only to British nationals and residents over the age of 16. Evidence of residency for non-nationals is required in the form of a photocopy of a driving license, utility bill, council tax bill or bank statement etc. Further authenticated evidence of residency for non-nationals may be required. The ICC is acceptable for British nationals or residents on a British flagged pleasure craft. Other countries may accept the ICC for their national flagged vessels. 
Evidence of Competence Required to Apply for an ICC / Boat License: 
Evidence may be provided in one of the following ways: 
a. By producing an RYA certificate of satisfactory completion of a relevant Practical course, an RYA/MCA certificate of competence of a statutory certificate of competence issued by the MCA, or a services watch-keeping certificate. 
b. By passing a test of competence at an RYA recognised training centre or an RYA affiliated club authorised to carry out tests. For power endorsed ICCs this test must be carried out on a vessel appropriate to the type of ICC required, i.e. above or below 10 metres. 
c. Any applicant applying for the inland waters category must have passed a test for the CEVNI (European Inland Waterways Regulations) online, at and RYA recognised training centre or an RYA affiliated club authorised to carry out tests. This is an additional test for inland waters and does not replace the requirement to include practical evidence. 
Contact us to see how we can help you obtain your ICC. 
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