Boat license

Boat license – which license for which country?


First of all: Unfortunately there is no international or European boat license.

The legislation provides that the nationality of the ship determines the legal status. Put simply, a ship flying the German flag and sailing in foreign waters is subject to German regulations. This also applies if a boat sails under a different flag, the regulations of the respective country apply.

In other words, in order to rent a boat abroad, you must comply with the regulations of the country, which can be found on the boat’s flag.

Which driver’s license do I need in which country?
Better to find out the rules in advance if you plan to rent a boat and navigate abroad. Below is a list of the regulations of the most popular boat charter destinations.

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In many cases, anyone who wants to legally move a motor or sailing boat on German waters does not need a certificate of competence, which greatly simplifies access to water sports. A driving license (SBF See or SBF Binnen) is only due when it comes to boats with an engine of more than 11.03 KW or 15 HP.

Exceptions are the Rhine, Lake Constance and sections of the Spree in Berlin. There is a general patent on Lake Constance, the Rhine can be navigated with boats up to 20 meters with the normal inland license, up to 5 HP even without a license. The 5 HP upper limit, which does not require a driver’s license, also applies on Lake Constance.


In Switzerland, a skipper’s license is a certificate of competence and authorization to drive pleasure boats. A driving license is required on the Swiss lakes if the sail area is 15 m² or more or an engine power of 6 kW (8 HP) is used. On Lake Constance, this applies from a sail area of ​​12 m² or an engine output of 4.4 kW (6 HP).

Swiss nationals who want to go at sea can purchase a sea license.


If you are in Austria or another landlocked country in Europe on a lake, e.g. Wörthersee, Attersee, Traunsee, Wolfgangsee, Lake Garda or want to drive on a river, you need the international inland patent or sport boat license. This boat license entitles you to drive motor and sailing boats up to 10 meters in length without any horsepower restriction.


To sail on a sailboat, no driving license is required in France, regardless of the engine. However, sufficient sailing experience is urgently required.

On the other hand, a coastal driving license is required to use a motor boat with an output of more than 6 hp (SBF See). License extensions are required to drive off the coast (high seas) or on lakes and rivers (inland).


To rent a boat in the Netherlands a driving license is required if:

  • The boat is more than 15 meters long
  • The boat can travel at a speed of more than 20 km / h


Driving licenses issued by member countries of the European Union are automatically valid and accepted in Greece. Those outside the European Union will be accepted if they meet EU standards. Driving licenses in languages ​​other than English or Greek must be translated.

To rent a boat in Greece, a boating license is required for sailing and motor boats over 30 hp.

No boating license is required for motor boats below 30 horsepower.


In Croatia it is compulsory to have a radio license (VHF license) in addition to the boat license in order to be able to sail regardless of the boat’s flag. This only applies to boats that can be used for the night.


In general, one can say that a boat license acquired in Germany is also valid in Italy under the same conditions as in Germany. You always need a boating license in Italy if the engine power of your chartered boat exceeds 30 kW (40.8 HP) or if you are more than 6 miles away from the coast.

You are certainly well equipped with the sports boat license lake, with which you can easily charter the usual motor and sailing boats. In most sailing areas a radio certificate is required, for charter usually the SRC (Short Range certificate) for USB radio.


The driver’s license is mandatory in two cases:

  • When you rent a motor boat with more than 15 horsepower and more than 4 meters in length.
  • When renting a sailboat over 5 meters in length.


Regardless of the category of sailing or motor boat, a driver’s license is required. Similar to renting a boat in Greece, the licenses issued by the member countries of the European Union are automatically valid and accepted in Portugal.


A certificate of proficiency (Amatör Denizcilik Belgesi) is required for sailing for sport or leisure purposes. It cannot be used for commercial activities and applies to the following boats:

  • All motor boats
  • Ships between 2.5 m and 24 m in length and up to 50 tons gross weight


Local authorities do not require a license to drive on coastal and inland waters. However, it is highly recommended that you have the necessary skills and experience to navigate these waters safely.


If you want to navigate in Norway, you need a boating license for boats with a length of more than 8 meters and / or a power of more than 25 hp.

Great Britain

In the UK, as in Ireland, boating on the coast or further offshore is open to all and does not require a license.

However, this is changing for inland shipping. Approval or a declaration to the competent authorities is required.


No special training is required to operate a sports boat less than 12 m long and 4 m wide.


To rent a boat in Monténegro, regardless of the type of boat, you must have a driving license.

Rent a boat without a license

You want to take advantage of boat rental, but you do not have a boat license. Don’t panic, there are several solutions:

  • Not all boats require a license. You can choose to rent a boat without a license.
  • Renting a skippered boat is an excellent solution if you want a complete and stress-free boating experience.

A very good book that I can recommend to you on the subject of a boat license. You should buy this book if you are currently dealing with the topic of boat license!

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