We are unusual amongst our European counterparts in being one of the few countries that does not have a driving licence for boat users, or any form of mandatory boat driving test. The RYA has always believed in education rather than legislation, and this is borne out by the UK's marine safety record which is one of the best in Europe. Some people are surprised that we have no requirement for qualifications - anyone, even someone with no boating experience, can go out, buy and use a 20+ metre luxury motor or sailing boat with no training or qualifications at all (the only thing they cannot do is use the VHF radio on board because radio users have to hold the Short Range (VHF marine radio) Certificate of Competence). Fortunately it is rare for someone to spend lots of money on a boat without seeking help or training in both boat handling and navigation, and the RYA believes the lack of legislation actually encourages most owners and users to become trained to a level above that of any minimum standard that would be set as part of a competence test and licence.
This does however present UK boaters with a problem when they take, or hire a boat overseas, particularly in Europe, and this has seen the creation of the International Certificate of Competence (ICC) for boat owners. It is not an international boat driving licence, but instead is a certificate from one country to another that the holder has been tested or trained to a standard that is the equivalent or higher of the visited country's boat test. This sounds simple enough until you look closer and discover that not all countries have formally signed up to the process, however the reality is (unusually) somewhat simpler than the small print, and a UK-issued ICC currently appears to be accepted by all European countries as an acceptable form of proof of competence on a UK flagged vessel.
To be eligible for a UK ICC you have to be over 16 and a UK resident or a UK citizen. The process then involves successfuly completing either a Day Skipper practical course (appropriate to the type of boat you intend to use) for an ICC up to 24 metres, or a Powerboat Level 2 course for an ICC up to 10 metres. The alternative to a course for those with plenty of experience is to do an ICC test which can be conducted at any relevant RYA training centre. The test takes a few hours and tests both practical skills and theory knowledge. The syllabus for the test can be found on our website, and there is lots more information on the RYA website, but if you are interested in obtaining an ICC please feel to give us a call to discuss your experience and requirements on 01590 678809.