How To Get Your ICC Certification (in 8 Countries)

Written by Shawn Buckles in Sailing Guides

Understanding how to get the International Certificate of Competence can be complex. Different countries issue them differently. In this article, I'll list the exact process for 8 different countries.

How to get your ICC certification? In most countries you can simply apply for an ICC if you have the correct national boating licenses. However, some countries, like the US, can't issue the ICC. Luckily, there are alternatives available, like the SLC or IPC.

For each country, the process is somewhat different, and the licenses required are named differently. So I've compiled a list with all the different national licenses you can use to get yourself an ICC or an alternative international license.

Sailboat motoring at dawn

How To Get Your International License

The ICC is the International Certificate of Competence for Operator of Pleasure Craft. You'll want to get this if you're planning on sailing international or coastal waters or chartering boats in Europe, for example.

The ICC is an internationally accepted sailing license. Most countries accept the ICC. There are some exceptions, but in practice, even in these countries, most charter companies will accept the ICC as sufficient proof of sailing experience.

In most countries, you can get an ICC by getting the right national boating licenses. After that, you can simply apply for an ICC with the right authorities. OR you automatically get the ICC, if it's integrated with the national license.

For example, in The Netherlands, you simply obtain Boat License I + II. The ICC is integrated with the national licenses.

The Required Licenses for 8 Different Countries

Here's a comprehensive table of the different ways to get an international sailing license in different countries:

Country Course or license Organization Apply for
USA ASA 101, ASA 103 and ASA 104 ASA IPC
Bareboat Charter Master Rank NauticEd SLC
UK RYA Day Skipper RYA ICC Coastal waters
Canada RYA Day Skipper RYA ICC Coastal waters
Australia RYA Day Skipper RYA ICC Coastal waters
France LE PERMIS PLAISANCE - extension Grande plaisance fluviale Départementales des affaires maritimes ICC Coastal Waters
Ireland ICC for Boating Abroad ISA ICC Coastal Waters
Switzerland Hochseeausweis (Certificate of competence for Ocean Yachting) Cruising Club der Schweiz-CCS ICC Coastal Waters
The Netherlands Boat license I (GPB I) VAMEX ICC Inland waters
Boat license II (GPB II) VAMEX ICC Inland + Coastal waters

I'll discuss each country in detail below.

United States

The U.S. hasn't signed UN Resolution 40 (UNR40), which means they can't issue ICC's.

This makes it difficult for U.S. citizens to get an ICC. In theory, you could get an RYA Day Skipper course and apply for an ICC with the RYA. They have certified U.S. partners. However, it's only in three locations, so not always a practical option.

Luckily, there are some other options.

International Proficiency Certificate (IPC)

Your first alternative is to get an International Proficiency Certificate (IPC) instead.

The IPC is issued by ASA (American Sailing Association). You can apply for one here.

To apply for one, you must be a certified ASA sailor with at least ASA 101, ASA 103 and ASA 104 certifications.

Sailing License and Credentials (SLC)

NauticEd's International Sailing License and Credentials (SLC) is another good option. The SLC is a valid international sailing license. It's probably the easiest and least expensive option for US residents.

It's a great alternative if you already have a lot of practical experience. You do need to do a one-day practical assessment (takes about 6 hours), and have a national (state) boating license.

The cool thing about this license is most of your training is online. You simply take NauticEd's Bareboat Charter Master Course. This bundle of courses will take about 40 hours in total, and goes over all the nitty-gritty of sailing theory. So you'll be sure to be up to date.

And it's pretty affordable too, at $175.

If you need more information before signing up for a $175 course, make sure to read William's in-depth NauticEd review, in which he goes over most of the courses.

Get Your State Boating License First

Regardless of the course you end up taking, you should probably first get your state boaters license. This is cheap and easy: in most states, you can learn and take the exam online. If you want to learn what State Boaters License you should get for your state, please check out my article on the boating licenses for all 50 states here.

More Detailed Step-By-Step Plan

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United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the RYA issues the ICC.
You can apply for the ICC if you have an RYA Day Skipper certification.

If you don't, you could also take a special ICC Assessment at an ICC test center.

You can apply for an ICC here (opens in new tab).


Canada can issue ICC's. If you want to be able to apply for one, you'll need to have finished the RYA Day Skipper Theory & Practical course.

If you already have sufficient practical skill and theoretical knowledge (similar to RYA or higher), you could also take a one-day ICC assessment. These typically take about 6 hours and cost about $600.

This is the cheapest way IF you already have the experience that's required.


Australia can't issue ICC licenses, but they are partners with RYA. This means Australians can obtain the ICC by successfully completing the RYA Day Skipper Practical & Theory course. After that, you may apply for an ICC through the RYA.

If you already have sufficient practical skill and theoretical knowledge (level RYA Day Skipper or higher), you could also take a one-day ICC assessment. These typically take about 6 hours and cost about $600.


France issues their own ICC licenses. To apply for an ICC there, you first need the national boating license.

LE PERMIS PLAISANCE - extension Grande plaisance fluviale

This extension translates to Pleasure Craft Great Rivers.
It will get you the ICC Coastal waters permit.


Ireland issues their own ICC licenses. You'll have to complete a special training course for Boating Abroad at the Irish Sailing Assocation.

To find training locations and apply for a course, you can check their website here.


Switzerland issues their own ICC licenses. You will get the ICC card after obtaining the national boating license.

The national license you'll need is called:

Hochseeausweis (Swiss Certificate of Competence for Ocean Yachting)

It's issued by the Cruising Club der Schweiz (CCS) in Bern.

To get this permit, you'll need to prove 1000 miles of sailing experience and pass a theory exam.
Please note, inland miles are excluded; you have to prove 1000 miles of sea experience.

Alternatives to getting an ICC are:

  • Sportbootfüherschein See (SBF Germany)

The Netherlands

The Netherlands issues ICC. Here, the ICC is integrated with the two national boating licenses (I and II). In order to sail coastal waters, you'll need both. After obtaining both licenses, you automatically receive your ICC.

The official name of the licenses are:

  • Vaarbewijs I - or: Boat license I
  • Vaarbewijs II - or: Boat license II

Did you find the answer to your specific question?
👍 12 👎 8



Hi, I am a Brazilian expat living in the Netherlands. I have sailed for about 30 years back in Brazil and I would like to know if there is a way of getting an ICC license to sail leisure crafts in the Netherlands (and eventually Europe) through an exam in English (in the Netherlands), as I am still beginning to learn Dutch.
Thank you very much.

John Morten

Hva med Kroatia ?. Jeg Har D5LA- ICC utstedt i Norge. VHF. IMO Krise å beredskap.

Doug F Schwartzsmith

I am going to redo some training. Is it true that the SLC certification offered by Nauticed is very widely recognized and accepted throughout the world for chartering (along with one’s on-the-water resume of course). It is created in the USA because the ICC and RYA are unavailable in USA (at least this is what I think is true). I’d like to get something that is known in as many locations as possible! Thank you for your time.
Aloha, Doug

Marie-Jose van Rie

I am an avid sailor and a professional translator and interpreter of English. I am looking for an English language textbook about the basics of motor boating and sailing( technical details, priority rules etc) that can help me prepare for interpretation services at the Dutch CBR, the institute that issues the Dutch Vaarbewijs I and II (Sailing licenses I and II). who can help out? Thanks in advance.

Jon Bayliss

I have held an RYA Yactmaster Offshore Certificate for many years but I now wish to sail the inland waterways in Europe. I can take the CEVNI on line with no problem if necessary. My boat is registered in France where I live. What is the easiest way to get an ICC?
Many thanks for your help.

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