I'm currently in Australia and I would like to use the opportunity to pass my boat license.

I will go back to Europe at some points (I'm European). So I would like a license that's also valid in Europe (France, UK, Spain, Greece...).

The simplest possible, I don't need to be able to drive huge boats far from the coasts, just being able to rent and drive boats on lakes and close the coasts would be pretty good.

From what I could gather, I need to get the International Certificate of Competence (ICC) but I'm not sure that's enough. It seems like a certificate, not a proper driving license.

Is passing the PWC enough?

I'm a bit lost here.

Edit: Australian State: NSW

Would be good to be able to use the license in France, and potentially Italy, Greece, Spain.

  • 4
    You might also try out Great Outdoors site which covers boating. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 4:31
  • @DJClayworth best not to recommend cross-posting, it's generally against SE policy :/
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 10:19
  • I know that in the Netherlands you can rent boats up to 15 meters and up to a certain amount of power/speed without any license or certificate and I am pretty sure that also goes in several other European countries.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:31
  • In France, at least, to rent a motor boat, you need a license. To rent a sailing boat (small ones), you don't need any.
    – dyesdyes
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 21:23
  • Can you please specify what state you are in? And in which EU countries you expect validity? Saying all of Europe is difficult when all countries manage licencing themselves. All Australian States have different regulations. In Western Australia for example, getting a Recreational Skippers Ticket usually has equivalence in other countries where a similar permit exists. Likewise having a permit from a EU country gives automatic skills recognition for the RST. The table is found here. transport.wa.gov.au/imarine/… Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 0:07

2 Answers 2


The Short Answer is: Most Probably

You need to note that licencing and qualifications are not standardised across the EU and as such each country sets their own licencing conditions (in practice most EU members will observe equal terms and skills recognition between member states). Further, most states of Australia have reciprocal skills recognition with various countries around the world, France being one of them.

According to this document {French} (from the French Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea), assuming you have EU citizenship, you are able to both skipper (up to the power specified) on the Australian licence and exchange your licence to an equivalent French one if you are planning on being a resident of France.

It is always good to send a query to the relevant Department (in this case the Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea) as certain points in your specific situation may require you to attend some kind of training, get extra insurance or apply for a local licence.


I don't know about the rest of the EU, but I can tell you the situation here in the UK:

Summary: for strictly recreational purposes there is no legal requirement. If you had your own boat you could take it out with no training, experience or certification at all (thankfully most people don't). So the level of certification/experience needed depends on the people who will be hiring you the boat (more accurately, depends on their insurers).

Inland waterways (rivers, canals, lakes, lochs, reservoirs, Norfolk broads): you don't need anything at all to hire a dinghy or a cabin cruiser. (Sometimes single-gender adult-only parties are banned because they don't want stag/hen groups, but that's a different issue). (The major booking agents are Hoseasons and Blakes but they don't actually own the boats themselves, they take bookings for a wide range of small boatyards and in these internet-enabled disintermediated days you might find it cheaper to go direct to the individual boatyard).

Offshore: it varies depending on the charter company, the size and value of the boat, and the area where you intend to sail. It's not unusual for a charter company to restrict you to a limited area (eg the Solent) if you have less experience, and allow you to go further offshore or out into a less sheltered area if you have more experience.

So the thing to do is for you to email charter companies and see what they say.

One of the major charter companies in the uk is Sunsail; their experience requirements are here:


For sailing out of their UK base in the Solent, the experience they're looking for is:

  • 20 days or 400 miles as skipper on an equivalent size yacht
  • RYA Day Skipper with experience to a higher level
  • RYA Coastal Skipper
  • ICC with experience to a higher level

so if you have a sailing cv you can show them with a decent amount of experience, then that plus the ICC should be enough.

Technically you should also have a VHF radio certificate in order to be able to use the VHF legally, but this doesn't seem to be enforced unless people start misusing the radio, and the charter companies don't seem to care.

What operator certificate do I need?
You must hold at least the Short Range Certificate to use hand held VHF DSC, just like any VHF DSC radio.


Powerboats on inland waterways: on larger rivers (eg the Thames) you can hire a RIB, although (on the Thames) there are speed limits until you get pretty far downstream. For these boats the situation is the same as for offshore charter boats except that the qualification the company will usually be looking for is RYA powerboat coxswain level 2. You might be able to convince them that a different Australian qualification is equivalent - contact them ahead of time as they may need to check with their insurers.

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