Croatia Boat Driver’s License: Make sure you have your ICC
American Cruisers Required to Obtain Croatian “Boat Driver’s License” in Lieu of International Certificate of Competence.
Published 7 years ago, updated 4 years ago
By SV Sherpa
After clearing out from Italy at Grado (just north of Venice), we hopped across the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, arriving at Umag, Croatia, on our 36-foot, U.S.-flagged sailboat in mid-August 2015.
As we attempted to clear in by showing the usual paperwork — U.S. passports, Certificate of Documentation for the boat, and proof of liability insurance — I was asked to show a Certificate of Competence. My husband and I have been sailing in Mediterranean waters for most of the past five years and had never before been required to present such a certificate.
I argued, but to no avail, that I wasn’t required to have an International Certificate of Competence since the U.S. doesn’t issue such certifications.
Nevertheless, the port authorities insisted that we couldn’t sail in Croatian waters without some type of certification. It turns out there’s a list of about a dozen U.S. certifications that Croatia recognizes, all issued by the American Sailing Association or the U.S. Sailing Association, none of which I had.
But the Croatian government was prepared for just such an eventuality. For a fee, I could take an exam that would yield a Croatian “boat driver’s license.” An organization named Sunny Way http://sunnyway.hr/en/exams/ handles the exam process, including providing a 55-page study guide (available in English, German, Italian and Croatian). They also offer an optional 3-hour class on the evening before the exam, which is administered in certain port cities on Saturdays.
I ended up taking the class and the exam (in English) with one other American in the coastal town of Porec, about 40 miles south of Umag, which I got to by bus since we weren’t allowed to sail our boat there. On Saturday morning, we arrived at the Harbormaster’s office where the exam was being held and was surprised to see dozens of people waiting to be tested. Two people at a time were admitted to the office for testing, so the other American and I were called in together. We were seated at a table across from two gentlemen with a Croatian chart spread out on the table between us. The Harbormaster asked each of us a number of questions (about potentially dangerous Adriatic winds, reading a chart, phonetic alphabet, etc.) and after less than ten minutes said, “Congratulations, your boat driver licenses will be ready for pickup in about half an hour.”
Judging by a large number of Europeans waiting for the test on Saturday morning and the fact that I paid about $325 for the class and the exam, it appears that Croatia has turned the issuance of boating licenses into quite a profitable mini-industry. We were told that Croatia requires a boating license even to rent a jetski legally!
Editor’s Note: As specified in the Noonsite Croatia Documents section:
Even though it may not be required by the cruiser’s flag state, Croatian officials still expect to see a certificate of sailing competency.
See the Noonsite/European page with information on the International Certificate of Competence (ICC) if you need to obtain one.
Also, see this Croatian Government website for a useful list of recognized certificates issued by other countries.