Boat rights: schools, views, recognition abroad
Theory and practice

Boat rights: schools, views, recognition abroad

We look into the peculiarities of obtaining and applying different skipper licenses - national and conventionally international.
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They say that in the past, the rights to the boat could easily be bought, and they cost inexpensively. This summer, I had the «pleasure» of watching such a character off the Crimean coast. He went a couple of months in the calm waters of Moscow suburbs, where caring moorings pull up the boat for ends with the captain in any condition. So I decided to bring my Monterey 35 to the Black Sea. I launched a yacht in Yalta. A friend with the girls took, vodka took, snacks took, and did not take the extra ends. He didn't take the sea radio, he didn't take the faucets, he didn't take the anchor, and he didn't take the mooring without any helpers. The sailors of the village of Utes sadly watched as his boat pitifully struggled against the berth in numerous attempts to moor in the not so quiet place. Their hearts could not withstand them: they ran away to get the ends, caught the boat and tied it up.

And what do you think, he bought a rope the next day? No, he bought more vodka, and the good local sailors stretched it out to murine on their moorings again in a light storm on the evening.

There will be no sad ending of history, but morals are already clear. The slightest disturbance of the sea, and the price of disorderly conduct can be life, not just a scratched boat. The danger of movement even in calm water is usually realized by experienced captains. But Russian avos are sometimes much stronger than the belief that knowledge is power, your comfort and safety.

I decided to find out where to go to study and whether there is one universal license for walking in the water areas of different countries.

The blue crust of the GIMS

Let's start with our beloved homeland. If you have become a happy owner of a small vessel, to manage it in the waters of the Russian Federation, you need to get a blue crust of GIMS of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.

I would like to remind you that the smallest vessel to be registered is a vessel from 200 kilograms to 20 meters long, which can accommodate no more than 12 passengers on board, whose engine power exceeds 8 kW.So, the hydrocycle is also a full-fledged small-size vessel requiring due attention in the form of registration, payment of taxes and corresponding category of rights.

Any other skipper licenses, even those that are far superior, are invalid for our country's supervisory authorities. But you can get a national document for the corresponding foreign crust confirming your knowledge from the State Inspectorate. For this purpose, it is necessary to make a notarized translation of the foreign license and to complete the missing theory, for example, on GDP (inland waterways), if necessary. You may also request a notarized translation of an official letter indicating the capacity of the vessel (sail area) allowed in the category of available rights. In fact, you will take an exam or pass the procedure of changing the certificate depends on the inspector and your experience.

How do I get the rights of the State Inspectorate for Migration?

There are a lot of schools where you can learn to drive a small boat in Russia. Learn differently, with different goals. Some do not hesitate to write: Teach «how to pass the exams, and nothing extra. Almost all offer distance learning and practical classes from 3000 rubles per hour.

For those who want to get knowledge, not just to notch the answers to the tickets, it is better to look for old proven schools that have proved themselves by numerous reviews. You can also learn on your own, without wasting time attending scheduled classes. But you must realize that the price of your knowledge on the boat is often very high. And the captain is not only responsible for himself and the boat, but also for the lives of all those on board.

The activities of inspectors have recently been closely monitored, and weakness for easy money is severely punished. I will «buy the motto now, I will learn later» is no longer supported. It is necessary to surrender independently, as well as however, and to be operated subsequently on water.

The rights of GIMS are divided into several navigation areas: inland sea waters and territorial sea of the Russian Federation (MF category), inland non-navigational water bodies (EP category), inland waterways of the Russian Federation (GDP category). It is possible to get everything at once.

With the license of GIMS abroad

Learned the rules, crust honestly received, experience found. And now begins the main question: whether it is possible with a license of the SMVI abroad?

On the one hand, the rights issued after 2016 are clearly not duplicated in English for the purpose of checking the knowledge of a foreign language by native inspectors. On the other hand, the marking «of inland waters and territorial sea of the Russian Federation as if» hints us that the permitted territory for the use of rights ends at this very border of the Russian Federation. Although it does not prohibit the holder of the blue ticket from following its territory. And what is not prohibited, as all lawyers know, is allowed.

But port captains are not lawyers, and sometimes on the basis of the inland waters mark, they prohibit a vessel with a captain who has only one official blue crust to go abroad. As happened, for example, in Sochi, where the mandatory criterion for exit was the presence on board the owner of an «international certificate.

Most ports (St. Petersburg, Novorossiysk, Anapa) will be easily released with the rights of the State Inspectorate of State Migration Service.

And then - independent waters and the current international maritime law, where your boat - the territory of the state under whose flag it is registered. Which means it is subject to the jurisdiction of the flag country.

Now that Google knows everything, it's best not to be lazy and look at the licensing requirements of the country you're going to.

For example, if you walk along the Canadian coast for less than 45 days, your license will not raise any questions. But after the 45-day deadline, be sure to show a certificate that is recognized by domestic law. There is no RYA, ICC, or even formal Canadian IYT on the list of legitimate rights. On the other hand, the SMVI for Russians meets the requirements of the country of the skipper's citizenship. Therefore, it is quite legal.

In some countries a small vessel (in Europe it is up to 24 meters against 20 Russian ones) is equal to a bicycle. For example, in Great Britain and many Scandinavian countries, no document is needed at all to be allowed to operate. Man is supposed to be a reasonable creature, he knows what he is taking and where he is going, and he is all right with responsibility too.

However, inland waterways of the United Kingdom already have requirements to the ship. You will need to obtain a BSS certificate confirming that your vessel meets the minimum safety requirements for shipping in the year of manufacture and you will also have to pay a license from the Canal and River Trust or the Environmental Protection Agency. It is possible to take it both for a month, and for half a year. For example, a 40-foot yacht sailing through canals and rivers in the UK will cost almost £700 per year.

In fact, when you go on your boat, no one cares what your licence is or if you have one at all. Who knows what is valid in the country of the skipper's citizenship and whether you need the same rights to operate your yacht at all. So the crust of licenses from country to country, not demanded and not seen daylight for years.

But if you take a boat for a bareboat charter (no crew), it's not that simple.

There are countries where the national rights of the captain are legitimate, and this is spelled out in the relevant document. For example, from the Croatians, you can find our home MES in the list of admitted to the administration. And it means that with a blue crust it is possible not only to walk on the yacht, but also to pass the test on trust in the charter company. The important thing is that there's also knowledge behind this crust. No insurance company would entrust an expensive boat to an absolute beginner. You will have to prove your knowledge and skills in an easy at first sight personal conversation with a representative of a charter company. During the conversation it will be immediately clear how deeply you have plunged into the topic. But the GIMS is not recognized by everyone. If we consider the international crusts officially recognized by more than one country, we can distinguish a few most frequently mentioned in the lists.

ICC - admission to European waters

International Certificate of Competence, which is a confirmation of your right to operate a small vessel in the territorial waters of the countries that signed the 40th UN Resolution. In fact, this is the first attempt to introduce a single standard for international confirmation of skipper's competence.

ICC is not a separate school. It is a certificate that is obtained by converting either the national license of the country that signed the 40th resolution, or converting the IYT and RYA level licenses of Bareboat Skipper (Day Skipper) and above.

Citizens and residents of the countries that have signed this document obtain rights in state bodies of their country. For all others, most of the IYT and RYA partner schools have the right to offer ICC certification or to change the document to an appropriate level.

In fact, many countries that have not adopted the 40th resolution adopt the ICC. In the same way you can face a private case of distrust to this certificate of a particular charter company in the country that signed it. This is due to the fact that the certificate is proof of knowledge, not skills of a particular skipper.

At the same time, there are countries where either a local national licence or an ICC certificate are only accepted (Turkey, Germany).

For amateurs of the European Union, this certificate is not superfluous. It gives not only an extended list of countries, but also removes restrictions on distance and time of day.

IYT - training system in the national language

International Yacht Training is a private commercial organization with headquarters in Canada. So commercial that from 2013 onwards, the term of the perpetual rights was limited to a five-year period. They explain this by updating the validity of existing licenses. If you want to renew, you don't have to redo anything, the main thing is to send an application and pay for it. It will cost 250-350 dollars each.

Teaching in the branches of Canadian school is allowed in any national language, which greatly simplifies the whole process of learning.

This is one of the factors why there are so many IYT schools in Russia.

It is not difficult to get a license to open a school, the quality of teaching is not especially monitored. This serves to increase not very good reviews and low credibility of charter brokers. Despite the fact that the recognition of the certificate is high all over the world. However, if there is knowledge behind a piece of paper, the name of the school becomes less important. The main thing when choosing a training system is to find a good instructor. IYT schools have them, too.

Practical classes are usually held either in Greece, Turkey or Croatia.

It is better not to regret an extra $100 and at the same time with the IYT diploma to obtain a European ICC certificate, which will expand the list of countries and remove the restrictions on miles from the shore and time of day. Of course, the fact that they are few respected by anyone, but in insurance cases it can be very critical.

To be eligible for ICC certification the school must be tested and officially approved by IYT Worldwide.

RYA is a school for those who know English and are ready for serious exams.

The Royal Yachting Association is a school with a long history and tradition. The level of training and certification of training centres is monitored very carefully. Everyone is strictly asked, including knowledge of English, in which all training takes place and the exam is accepted. Apparently, for this reason, there is only one such accredited school in Moscow.

RYA pays great attention to one of the most complex and interesting topics - the peculiarities of tidal navigation.

Having received the certificate marked «tidal», it is possible to walk without restrictions in the most difficult water areas.

Not everyone is able to pass the RYA exam the first time. But charter companies have high confidence in the license of the British school. RYA can also be converted to ICC by filling out a questionnaire on the website. In addition, the crust of the English association is valid indefinitely and does not require additional costs in five years.

Classification of yachting rights

The RYA and IYT rights are divided by classification level. Most skippers walk with a Bareboat Skipper or Day Skipper. This is usually enough to charter a yacht. For a large expensive yacht a yacht workshop qualification may be required. Requirements for qualification will also be higher for charter in difficult waters, tidal areas and long ferries.

Category .


Requirements .




Initial level

Competent Crew International

Competent Crew

Yacht captain

First mate to the captain. Independent management of the yacht is allowed in the flotilla.

Flotilla Skipper/Watchkeeper

No further than 20 miles from the shore / only during daytime in good weather.

200 miles / 10 days

Bareboat Skipper

Day Skipper


No more than 60 miles / at any time of day / in mild weather

800 miles / 30 days / two days as a skipper/

12 hours of night watch

Yachtmaster Coastal

Coastal Skipper

150 miles off the coast / in any weather

3000 nautical miles / boat captain's certificate

Yachtmaster Offshore

Yachtmaster Offshore

No restrictions.

Yachtmaster Ocean

Yachtmaster Ocean

Sailor (Competent Crew) - member of the team with initial knowledge and little experience. In some countries, such as Croatia, charter companies may require a second certified person on a yacht. The certificate of Competent Crew solves this problem.

Flotilla Skipper, Bareboat Skipper, Day Skipper - captain qualifications. It is an opportunity to get a yacht on a bareboat charter. With such classification the basic percent of skippers goes. It seems to be a full-fledged license, but it is limited to a 20-mile sailing area and daytime skipper. Nobody pays attention to these nuances by the fact. Exactly until the insurance event.

However, the Greeks suddenly turned. Their attention resulted in the ban of a week-long crew-list for skippers with licenses below the yachting workshop qualifications in Greece.

Bareboats will probably no longer be trusted with long passages to Santorini. As long as there's no official document, the May holidays have a chance to take place. As a last resort, it'll save the ICC.

A yachtmaster's qualification is honor and respect in any charter company. The main thing is to hide real knowledge and practical experience behind the crusts. It is possible to train for it by obtaining a captain's license in advance.

How does the type of skipper's license affect the insurance policy

In fact, all problems with documents pop up when an insured event occurs. The charter broker is profit-oriented. And often he will quietly give the yacht away, having accepted an illegitimate document in his country.

There is an opinion that if an existing license is not recognized in a particular country or contains restrictions that are not respected by the skipper (night crossings), the insurance company will not pay. Yes, it will.

If the contract does not specify the requirements for a particular type of license, the insurance will pay no matter how short you walk. You should therefore study your contract with the insurance company thoroughly.

But if the insurance has clear instructions on this, and you, having a license with a note about the permission only for day trips, decided to walk a little at night ... In this case, even in case of your complete innocence for a yacht that came at you, you can easily get hundreds of thousands and - not rubles.

It often happens that «Casco» does not have requirements for a license, but civil liability regulates a certain type of rights. Then you can expect not only consequences in the form of damage, but also a fine for lack of a recognized license. The fine, as a rule, is much less than the damage caused. But it does not add pleasant emotions. So study the contracts in small print. And the presence of an appropriate license will only add peace of mind and confidence.

Where do I go to learn to be a yacht captain?

First you have to understand whether to go for a crust or knowledge.

If you need knowledge, you should look for a good school, or better - a good instructor, who has proven himself by numerous reviews. At the heart of all international schools is the STCW (Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeepers) convention. Therefore, the theory will be approximately the same, but the practice can be fundamentally different. The first thing to think about is the quality of learning, not the colour of the paper. And it is the instructor who determines the initial set of skills and knowledge, not the school and system. And even base-managers are more concerned with your skills than the name of the school and the qualification.

There are more than enough offers to buy a license without knowledge. In the Ionian Islands, for example, specifically in Sivote (Lefkas), learning yachting is promised in three days. And the number of inadequate people prevails there.

A minimum of two weeks of active training is required to prepare for the first independent step from scratch. If they promise to train the sea wolf from scratch in less than a week, it is better not to waste time and money.

If, together with knowledge, there is a goal to acquire the most recognizable certificate, it is better to go to IYT or RYA with the possibility of conversion to ICC.

There are different opinions about schools, each has its pros and cons. The long debate about which school is better is simply the result of good PR.

Why RYA, IYT, ISSA, in fact - commercial entities not related to public bodies are recognized by many countries? Their licenses, in fact, are a certificate of completion of courses. Take, for example, IYT - Canadian commercial organization, the license of which is not recognized by Canadians themselves if they walk in the territorial waters of the country for more than 45 days. In some branches of the school crust can be just bought. And their recognition is higher than that of the GIMS license, which was issued somewhere in the Rybinsk reservoir. Or in Vladivostok, where a four-point storm is a normal phenomenon. Where the ability to properly moor at the exam is equal to a real art.

It would be good to develop a national system of education, not to give money to Canada, England or somewhere else.

I can do anything, but I don't have a crust.

If it happened that in experience you already feel like a mother sea wolf, from childhood engaged in sailing, have sailed hundreds of miles, and the crust is still not acquired, there are many options to get a license for a small amount of money, passing a simple exam or passing the test on the Internet.

Many IYT schools can pass exams if you just have a confirmation of ten days spent at sea, with a minimum distance of 200 miles.

In Slovenia, after spending a couple of days and 110 euros (state fee for two exams - VHF rights and license), you can get national rights, which are recognized by many countries and are permanent. Exam - only oral, 80-90% of the program coincides with the course IYT. The rest is local specifics of winds, coastal zone and other natural conditions.

In Croatia you can take the exam in 20 minutes at any port. State fee, two photos, a stock of simple English, luggage your knowledge - and get your Voditelj brodice, which is also recognized by many countries. And it does not require a demonstration of practical skills in obtaining.

It's quite simple to get a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Card - take the test from the comfort of your own home and pass it online. Admittedly, this is not the case everywhere, but in Australia, for example, it is valid and can even be exchanged for a local government licence.

These are all legitimate options that often make sense and save time.

So, to summarize.

There is no single international license yet. There are rights that are recognized in more or less countries. Some countries have our national GIMS.

It is better to choose the training system, with a crust of which you can easily get a recognized in Europe ICC certificate. But it is much more important to choose a good trainer.

When planning your trip, you should carefully study the laws of the countries you plan to visit. The validity of your license will depend on the specific country, the flag on your boat and your citizenship.

Having the right licence does not guarantee getting a boat on charter. Each company has its own requirements for the experience and necessary qualification of a skipper. If the base-manager does not satisfy your luggage of knowledge, he has the right to refuse you without explanation.

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