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Many European countries require the skipper of a pleasure craft to be able to provide evidence of his or her competence. In practice documentary evidence may seldom be inspected, but it is generally useful and in some countries essential to carry an ICC.


About the ICC

The International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft (commonly referred to as the International Certificate of Competence - ICC) was originally created to facilitate pleasure navigation along the length of the rivers Rhine and Danube.

The evidence of competence required, differed for each of the countries the rivers pass through, which caused difficulties. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Inland Transport Committee Working Party on Inland Water Transport sought to find a solution.


Resolution 40

The rules surrounding the issue of the ICC were initially detailed in UNECE ITC Resolution 14. This resolution has been superseded by an enhanced version, Resolution 40, which now regulates the ICC, stipulating who the ICC can be issued to, the syllabus requirements and the layout of the certificate.

The UK Government has accepted Resolution 40 and has authorised the RYA to issue the ICC on its behalf. 


Validity of the ICC

An ICC is valid for 5 years from the date of issue.

If a boat owner requires evidence of competence when visiting another European country the ICC will frequently suffice. It can also be useful for people wishing to charter.

The ICC does not replace the need to comply with any manning requirements imposed by the country in which the boat is registered, wherever in the world the boat may be. Where evidence of competence is required by the country of registration, pleasure boaters must comply with the regulations of both the country of registration (the Flag State) and the requirements of the visited country (the Coastal State).

The ICC should be automatically accepted in countries which have adopted Resolution 40. However of the 56 UNECE countries, able to accept the resolution the UK is one of only a handful which have fully adopted Resolution 40. Many of the eligible countries have not accepted Resolution 40, some still apply Resolution 14 which Resolution 40 was intended to replace and others only apply Resolution 40 in part or with caveats attached.


Wider acceptance

The ICC is however a far more useful document than the Resolution’s formal acceptance would suggest. Although acceptance of the ICC by the visited country should be because the visited country itself has adopted Resolution 40, the ICC is sometimes recognised as an acceptable certificate in the visited country’s national legislation and is quite often accepted on a purely informal basis. Spain, Greece and Portugal, for example, have not adopted Resolution 40 but are still likely to ask visitors for an ICC.

The ICC may be acceptable for visiting foreign flagged vessels, foreign flagged vessels being kept in the Coastal State and / or vessels flagged in the Coastal State. It should never be assumed that the ICC will be accepted as an alternative to the national qualification of the vessel's flag state. The onus is on ICC holders to determine its acceptability by foreign states, as the ICC was never intended to be an alternative to individual national qualification requirements.



The informal acceptance of the ICC by many of the EU countries has contributed to the common misconception that the ICC is of EU origin. The ICC is frequently but wrongly thought to be the boating equivalent of the EU driving licence for road vehicles, which all EU member states are obliged to accept.

An ICC allows the holder to voyage internationally but only where the country to be visited has chosen to accept it and subject to any prescriptions made by the visited country. 

As the ICC’s validity is determined by the visited country it is not a truly international qualification. However, the ICC is the only international evidence of competence that exists for pleasure boaters in Europe and, through attendance at the UNECE in its role as Secretariat of the European Boating Association, the RYA continues to work to get the ICC more widely accepted in Europe.

This is also explained in the ICC the small print, which is sent out with ICC certificates to provide the certificate holder with information about how that certificate can be used.


ICC required or recommended

The requirement for evidence of competence varies from country to country. Sometimes it is required for coastal waters, sometimes for inland waters, sometimes for neither and sometimes for both.

In very general terms an ICC is required for the inland waterways of Europe and for inland and coastal waters of Mediterranean countries. For the coastal waters of Northern Europe the ICC is generally not required, however to all of these generalisations there are exceptions.

Further information can be found on the Evidence of Competence Abroad page. RYA members will find more specific information in the individual country pages.  

Note: where proof of competence is required under the Merchant Shipping Regulations i.e. UK pleasure vessels exceeding both 80 GT and 24m (load line) length (see Merchant Shipping Notice (MSN) 1802) and for any vessel which is used for commercial purposes, the ICC is insufficient and it must be supported by the requisite certificate of competence.  

If your vessel is registered in one of the Crown Dependencies, you will need to comply with the regulations applied by that Dependency’s administration, which may differ.


The ICC Assessment 

Boaters who need an ICC, but do not wish to attend an RYA training course, can take the ICC assessment to prove their competence.

In order to comply with the requirements of UNECE ITC Resolution 40 under which the ICC is issued, the RYA must ensure that anyone who is issued with an ICC is competent in accordance with the resolution.

An applicant who has passed an RYA training course which proves their ability to skipper a vessel, such as the Day Skipper Practical Course or the Power Boat Level 2 Course, has proved their competence and therefore on presentation of their certificate the ICC can be issued.

For boaters who have not successfully completed an acceptable RYA practical course, but already have the required level of competence, the alternative is to take the ICC assessment.


The syllabus for the assessment is published in the ICC Application Form or candidates can purchase the  RYA ICC Handbook to guide them through the requirements.


Arranging to take the assessment


The ICC Assessment can be arranged through Crystal Marine RYA training centre.

If you require an ICC which is valid for both Sail and Power 10m LOA and over you will need to be assessed for each type of boat as the skills required can be very different.

The training centre or club will, confirm your successful completion of the test by signing the relevant section of the ICC application form - there is no separate certificate. 

Send your signed application form together with the other items required for your application or renewal to the RYA Certification Department.


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