Cruising Regulations: Obtaining an International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

Even if a skipper’s home country does not require any evidence of competency, officials in many countries expect one. Having an ICC will satisfy this requirement.

Published 6 years ago, updated 3 months ago

What is the International Certificate of Competence (ICC)?

The International Certificate of Competency (ICC) is a set of standards drawn up by a committee of The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (Resolution 40). It is designed to be recognised throughout Europe and has various categories covering sailboats, power boats (up to 10m or up to 24m), inland and coastal waters.

Countries which have signed up to the UN Resolution 40 are able to authorize certain organizations in their country to issue an International Certificate of Competency to sailors who have demonstrated the basic level of skill required. The principal restriction is that such certificates can only be issued to their own nationals and any others who are not nationals of another UN Resolution 40 signatory country.

The countries which are signatories of UN Resolution 40 are:-

Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

On this page you can view the International Certificates for Operator of Pleasure Craft issued in the UNECE member States in accordance with Resolution No. 40.

Why do I need an ICC?

An International Certificate of Competence (ICC), or some official document showing the competence of the person in charge of the boat, is now required by officials in many countries. Whilst your home country may not require such a certificate, it is worth getting something before you start cruising to avoid any nasty surprises (see this Croatia report by American cruisers who had to pay to get a Croatia Boater’s License in lieu of an ICC certificate). Charter companies in Europe will want to see an ICC and many countries now ask for a certificate of competence (Greece and Turkey ask for it). It is not a general requirement in the Caribbean countries to ask for evidence of competence.

How do I get an ICC?

Each country which has signed up to the UN Resolution 40 can issue it for its own citizens and residents. This is usually done by the national yachting or boating association. It is granted by a) passing the appropriate theory and practical exam, or b) by holding a similar or higher recognised qualification.

It is worth noting that some bare-boat charter companies require evidence of more competence than that required to obtain an ICC. Also, if wishing to sail (or motor) on the Inland waters of Europe, a CEVNI endorsement is also required. This can be obtained online.

The UK’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has confirmed that its International Certificates of Competence (ICC) and several of its course completion certificates and other Certificates of Competence remain valid for skippering Spanish flagged boats. The RYA raised concerns once it became clear that the UK’s status as a third country from 1 January 2021 meant that, in accordance with Spanish regulations, RYA certificates would no longer be recognised by the Spanish Government for use on Spanish flagged boats. See for a list of the RYA centres where the ICC can be obtained.

What if I am not a Citizen or Resident of a Resolution 40 Country?

The good news is that anyone who is not a citizen or resident of a country not signed up to resolution 40 (e.g. USA, Canada, Portugal, Spain etc.) can obtain an ICC by passing the appropriate recognised course.

The RYA can issue the ICC to non-UK citizens/residents.

The USA’s American Sailing Association (ASA) provides a certification similar to the ICC called the International Proficiency Certificate (IPC). See the ASA’s FAQ’s about the IPC and the IPC application.

Survey to study potential for EU-wide Boating Licenses

March 2024: The European Union has commissioned a study to analyse the advantages of recognising boater licenses EU-wide in a effort to understand the benefits and challenges of such a recognition system and its potential implementation. There is a General Public Survey which aims to gather views on the current regime and experiences regarding skipper’s licence/qualification for recreational boaters. Read News HERE.

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  1. March 8, 2020 at 1:45 PM
    roscheetham says:

    In the USA the American Sailing Association will issue a Certificate of Competency if you have passed their 104 course Bareboat Cruising.