Do I need a sailing license to charter?

/ Published in Sailing Tips

Are you ready to book your first sailing charter vacation? Or perhaps you’re a returning guest and need to determine whether you’re a qualified skipper? If you haven’t yet acquired a formal sailing license, is your experience enough to skip the hired captain on your next charter? 

Let us walk you through the various scenarios. First of all, not all destination countries require formal sailing credentials. But when you book with Navigare in our Mediterranean destinations like Croatia, Greece, and Spain, as well as Sweden and Seychelles, you will be asked to produce an official license that we must submit to the local port authorities ahead of your departure. In Croatia, you are also formally required to hold a radio (VHF) license. 

In our other destinations in Thailand, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean, Navigare will require a sailing resume demonstrating your sailing knowledge and experience

To ensure the safety of our guests and our fleet, we’ve summarized below what is acceptable documentation for a bareboat yacht charter. It comes down to providing proof of your skills and experience, as well as proper licensing where the destination country requires it.

What are formal sailing credentials?

There are three forms of formal sailing credentials, referred to as licenses; the following are accepted in Europe for recreational bareboat yacht charter sailing:

  • The International Certificate of Competence (ICC)
  • The International Proficiency Certificate (IPC)
  • The International Sailing License and Credentials (SLC)

The International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

An International Certificate of Competence (ICC) is a certificate, which may be issued to those who complete certain national boating licenses or pass an examination to prove the necessary competence for pleasure craft operation. ICC is the only sailing license approved by the United Nations as a legitimate recreational sailing license under Resolution 40. European countries that signed the resolution have each appointed an official sailing body in their own country to issue the ICC. 

In the UK, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) issues the ICC. 

Although the U.S. and Canada are not signatories to Resolution 40, the RYA is still able to issue the ICC for U.S. and Canadian citizens. The downside, however, is that you have to find an RYA school. There are only four RYA schools in North America (one in the U.S. and 3 in Canada).

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

The International Proficiency Certificate (IPC)

The American Sailing Association (recently renamed “American Sailing”), offers the ASA training and certification program which has been around since the 1980s. It offers an IPC which can, in some instances, take the place of an ICC. ASA offers the IPC for a small fee for any student who has completed coursework through ASA Bareboat 104. US Sailing also offers the IPC after completion of their bareboat handling courses. The IPC and ICC are not interchangeable in the eyes of European governments but most yacht charter companies with European charter bases will accept either.

Did you know that Navigare Yachting in the Bahamas is an ASA school? Connect with your Navigare charter specialist to learn more. We also offer a two-week sailing school option in Croatia every summer. To learn more, visit our sailing school page.

The International 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.

NauticEd, founded in 2008, is a training and certification body recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard and NASBLA (the boater licensing authority accepted by each state). 

To obtain NauticEd’s SLC, you’ll take NauticEd's Bareboat Charter Master Course with about 40 hours of online instruction and an on-the-water assessment of competence with a NauticEd Instructor. The SLC is accepted by all yacht charter companies and European port authorities and is additionally written on the official ministry list of acceptable licenses in Croatia.

If you wish to get your SLC while sailing in BVI, don't hesitate to get in touch with your Navigare charter specialist for assistance. 

Submitting the required documentation

In doubt, please don’t hesitate to contact Navigare Yachting before booking your bareboat charter anywhere in the world. We will advise you on what documentation is required for bareboat chartering in the country where you wish to sail. 

When you contact us, we will ask you to submit your sailing resume, or a sailing license (or both). You should prepare one for yourself and your first mate detailing your history of sailing experience and any certifications or licenses you hold.

If your sailing experience is deemed insufficient, Navgiare reserves the right to place a hired skipper on your vessel at your cost, pending skipper availability.

If the charter company requires a license and you don't have one, you'll be denied the ability to bareboat. In that case, you can either try to obtain a license before chartering or you might even consider different countries that may be less restrictive.

If you wish to acquire a formal sailing license, you may be interested in our Croatia sailing school.

Note: A U.S. Coast Guard OUPV license (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels, known as a “six-pack”) or Master’s license is not accepted as a formal sailing license. 

Sailing credentials aren’t enough

While sailing certification can be a great start, no license will be a substitute for skill and experience on the water. Without practical experience on vessels of similar size to the one you plan on chartering, your sailing credential will do little in the way of ensuring the safety of the vessel and your passengers. This is why most yacht charter companies require a current sailing resume in addition to the sailing license that may be required in your destination. 

Sailing skills you should master through on-water practice before you skipper your next charter include docking, maneuvering in tight quarters, knot tying, reefing, anchoring and mooring (including Mediterranean mooring), and heavy weather sailing, plotting a course, understanding, and troubleshooting marine systems, and seeking emergency assistance. 

While obtaining your certification will “check a box”, nothing will replace hands-on experience. Until you’re able to captain your bareboat vessel, you may have to hire a professional skipper or ask a more experienced sailor friend to tackle the job.

Investigate before you book your charter!

Before you commit to your next bareboat charter, we urge you to consult Navigare Yachting and our charter specialists. We will help you navigate the requirements of your destination. Some countries have some additional requirements; for example, Croatia requires a VHF license.

Then check online resources like,, as well as, and for the best way to gain a license that suits your needs. 

Take the requirements of sailing credentials seriously and work on your resume ahead of time, or you may end up losing time and money; who wants to start their sailing vacation by getting denied a boat upon arrival? Planning will prevent a last-minute scramble to hire a professional captain.

We can’t wait to see you sailing with us!

Do I need a sailing license to charter?

Do you have any questions? Ask away! We are here for you.

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