All About the ICC

All About the ICC

We’ve recently had several students ask about the ICC (International Certificate of Competence). It’s a little complicated but here are the answers to the most common questions.


What is the ICC?

The International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft is more commonly referred to as the International Certificate of Competence or simply ICC.

An ICC provides the holder with evidence of competence in an internationally recognisable format which can be presented to officials in foreign countries.

In 1998 the United Nations Working Party passed Resolution 40, which created the ICC. It was intended to provide a single certificate that would show the holder as competent to operate pleasure craft, either sailing or power vessels. Before that you could have been asked to produce competency certificates for each country whose waters you were on.

The Resolution set out the competency requirements to be achieved for the issue of an ICC, irrespective of individual national schemes, and a minimum age (16 years).

Who can get an ICC?

An ICC may be issued to people who have successfully completed certain national boating licences, or to those who have passed an examination to prove the necessary competence.

Generally speaking, countries may only issue the certificate to their own nationals or residents, or nationals of another country that is not a member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Governments are not required to accept a national certificate issued by the Government of a different country as the basis of an ICC.

Which countries have adopted Resolution 40?

You can see a list of countries that have adopted Resolution 40, and the body in the country that is responsible for issuing ICCs. If your country is not listed, read on to find out if you can get an ICC through the RYA.

My country has not adopted Resolution 40. Can I get an ICC?

The RYA is currently authorised to issue a UK ICC to eligible nationals and residents of the following countries:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Tajikstan, The former Yogoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan.

However, if any of these countries adopts Resolution 40 this may impact on whether the RYA can continue to issue an ICC to its citizens.

So, for example, if you are German but resident in the UK, France, or the USA, the RYA can issue you with an ICC. If you are a German living in Germany or Switzerland, unfortunately you would need to contact the competent authority in those countries.

Click here for up to date information on Resolution 40 countries from the RYA.

What does the ICC offer me that my national certificate doesn’t?

Foreign officials cannot be expected to understand the certificates issued by each individual country, what they allow the skipper to do, or what level of competence the skipper has. The ICC indicates to the authorities in a foreign country that your competence to skipper a pleasure craft has been assessed in accordance with Resolution No. 40 and you have demonstrated the necessary level of competence for the type of boat and area of operation indicated on the certificate.

Do I need an ICC?

You do not need an ICC if you only intend to sail in your own country and have a certificate for your own country. It is intended purely for those who want to sail in foreign countries.

Some countries will insist you have an ICC whilst in other countries an ICC may not be needed at all. The requirement may also differ between coastal waters and inland waters within a country. The ICC is only guaranteed to be accepted in countries that have adopted UN Resolution 40. However, the ICC is a useful document to carry and will generally be accepted where proof of competence is required, even in countries that have not formally adopted Resolution 40.

In very general terms an ICC is required for the inland waterways of Europe, and for sailing in Mediterranean countries. It is generally not required for coastal sailing in Northern Europe.

Can I use the ICC outside Europe?

The ICC is not a global qualification. Even within Europe the ICC’s validity is determined by the issuing country and by the country you are visiting. At the discretion of countries elsewhere in the world it may be acceptable evidence of competence.

Does my ICC entitle me to charter a boat?

No, the ICC can be useful for people wishing to charter, but charter companies are under no obligation to accept the ICC as evidence of competence for people chartering their boats.

The Resolution was partly intended to help waterborne tourism and so you will probably find an ICC will be accepted but, depending on the sailing area, you may be asked to provide evidence of a higher level of competence and / or experience to charter in some areas.

In Greece, an RYA Day Skipper or Coastal Skipper Practical certificate will generally be accepted as proof of competence. Both of these require a higher level of skill to complete than an ICC. I have never known any charter companies in Greece ask for an ICC in preference to an RYA certificate, and many prefer an RYA certificate.

How do I get an ICC using my RYA certificate?

You must:

  • have reached the age of 16;
  • be physically and mentally fit to operate a pleasure craft, and in particular, must have sufficient powers of vision and hearing;
  • meet the eligibility criteria for nationality or residence
  • have passed an appropriate level of RYA course or have taken an ICC assessment at a recognised centre.

You can download an ICC Application Form which you can complete and send to the RYA. This has a section to let you check your eligibility.

If you are eligible to be issued with an ICC by the RYA and you already have a suitable RYA certificate you do not need to take a separate ICC assessment. You simply have to provide a copy of your certificate and proof of nationality or residency.

There is a fee for obtaining an ICC, which is currently £45 for non-RYA members. However, if you join the RYA (membership is £52 for those over 25) you can get the ICC for free. You can join the RYA using the same form.

Can I take an ICC assessment instead of an RYA course?

Yes, we can arrange this for you. Please contact me for more information.

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