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.
In this article:
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.
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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.
- Read more on the SLC at NauticEd here.
- If you want to try out NauticEd's course system, you could sign up for two completely free courses first (opens in new tab).
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
If you're looking to learn to sail from scratch, but don't know where to start, I have written a detailed e-book that contains actionable step-by-step lesson plans for different budgets and situations. This book will save you hundreds of dollars, hours, and a headache. You can get it here. Please check it out. You will support our work, and more importantly: it will help you get started much quicker and cheaper.
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 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