Update your knowledge about all types of boat licenses and the legal requirements when chartering a sailing yacht, a motor yacht or a catamaran as a bareboat. We are answering the five more important questions about boat licenses.

  • Do I need a license to charter a yacht?
  • What is a skipper’s license? 
  • What is an SRC certificate?
  • Which boat charters are possible without a skipper license?
  • What qualifications do I need to be a skipper?

Do I need a license to charter a yacht?

The  short answer to the most frequently asked question is:

  1. If you want to rent a boat and you are the skipper yourself – you will need a boat license, recognized by the country you want to sail in. In some countries, you will also need a Short Range Certificate. 
  2. If you want to charter a sailing boat,  a catamaran or a motor boat and additionally book a skipper or crew – the answer is No, you don’t need any licenses.

 Check here for all international boating licenses accepted when charting a boat in Croatia


What is a skipper’s license? 

If you want to operate a boat that has an engine of 15hp or more, then you will need a skipper license. You will need this license as a permit to operate a sailing or motor watercraft. This document is also obligatory for a yacht charter. There are completely different types of licenses, issued in different countries.

Unfortunately, there are neither international nor EU-wide official regulations for boat licenses when chartering a pleasure sailing craft. Every country has its regulations and requirements for skippers. The rule is: All boat licenses are national documents and would not be valid abroad. However, official documents, issued by a competent authority can also be recognized abroad. This  must be checked with the charter company before booking the sailing/motor watercraft. 


Main types of sailing licenses 

  1. There are four major differences in boating licenses, based on the sailing area: 
  • Boating license for inland waterways (Lakes and Canals on Mainland)
  • Coastal skipper patent (all seas up to 12 nautical miles from the mainland coast)
  • Yachtmaster Offshore (all seas up to 30 nautical miles from the mainland coast)
  • Yachtmaster Ocean license (high seas and ocean crossing)
  1. There are countries issuing boating licenses, based on the size/weight of the vessel ( in Gross Ton) and not based on the distance from the shore.
  2. There are also countries issuing documents for sailing vessels only, motor engine vessels only or both
  3. License for a House Boat or Shipper ( England and Holland )

Important Information before chartering a yacht

To avoid any inconvenience with rejected documents, we will check if your license is accepted by the specific charter company before you make the first payment for your boat.

If you want to sail in a different country, than yours, or cross borders you have to apply for the International Certificate of Competence in your country. Having this legal document you will not have any problems chartering a boat in any foreign country. In some countries, the ICC is automatically included after the issuing of the document e.g. Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 

Caution when chartering in Croatia:

Boats over 30 gross register tons need two skippers on board, one of whom can show a valid coastal boat license. Boats in this size class include the Lagoon 450, Saba 50, Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 and the Dufour 48 Catamaran. Don’t forget that the Short Range Certificate is also required in Croatia.

Caution when chartering in Greece:

Additionally to the skipper, there must always be a co-skipper on board, who has also signed his qualifications in a “Declaration of Honour”.

What is a Short Range Certificate? 

The Short Range Certificate is an internationally valid radio operator’s certificate. This license is required only if the boat is equipped with a marine radio station and includes the operation of marine radio stations on VHF and safety radio systems.

Caution: In Croatia or Seychelles you can’t book a yacht without a valid international Short Range Certificate. 


Which boat charters are possible without a skipper license?

  1. Small boats up to 15hp can be rented without a license.
  2. Without any license, you can book  a canal boat  in France, Holland, Germany, Poland or Switzerland. Our Canal boats are available for everyone without any boat experience. After a short introduction to the vessel and the main rules in the canals, you can start your trip safely. Check out our Canal du Midi with a boat blog and learn more about this awesome destination!

Keep in mind: Officially, the countries you can go sailing without a license are France, the BVI, the Bahamas or Thailand. Caution! For motor yachts, you still need a certificate here. Even if it is possible to go sailing without a sailing boat license in these countries, we do not charter boats without a sailing certificate ( at least Costal Patent B ) because of safety and insurance issues. 

What qualifications do I need to be a skipper?

The skipper (or captain)  is the person who has the knowledge and the authority to steer the vessel. But most importantly this is the person who takes full responsibility for the yacht and the passengers. When hiring a sailing or a motor vessel this person can be you if you have the legitime license to navigate or you have to hire a professional to do so. Learn All about The duties of a skipper in our best-rated blog.