Requirement to Charter a Boat – Everything You Should Know!

In the last few years, sailing holidays have emerged as a legitimate and exciting alternative to regular inland vacations.

However, there are certain doubts among prospective holidaymakers about license requirements that are accepted by various countries.

Many people seem to give up on their dreams of a sailing trip due to prevailing ignorance over such licensing requirements. However, the bare truth is that there are ways to go on a sailing trip without any need to procure a license.

Even if you want more hands-on sailing experience, it takes just a little bit of effort to get the necessary experience and certificate for sailing.

In this article, you will learn all about the requirements to charter a boat for your dream sailing vacation.

Do You Really Need a License?

Do you require an officially recognized license before you can charter a boat in any maritime jurisdiction? The answer to this question is vague.

As a matter of course, many countries do insist on some qualification from the skipper in charge of a boat.

However, in practice, we have discovered that a lot of countries go easy on a skipper’s license to charter a boat, insisting only on self-certified proof of competence.

In particular, in popular leisure boating destinations such as Italy, Turkey, France, Montenegro, and Slovenia, authorities do not maintain a list of licenses that is valid within their jurisdiction.

It helps, however, if you possess a qualification from recognized authorities such as the Royal Yacht Association or Irish Sailing Association.

Lately, however, more and more countries insist on an International Certificate of Competence.

ICC has become increasingly popular on account of the fact that people from all nationalities can avail it from accredited sailing schools in Europe and elsewhere.

However, there are still certain countries that have not accepted ICC as a valid document. Prominent among them are, Greece, Portugal, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Russia, Spain, and United States.

Boat on the water in Italy

Countries that require a license from sailors

As mentioned above, a lot of charter companies do not mind offering boats to individuals without a formal qualification.

All that is required from you is to demonstrate competence, and you would be good to go.

However, there are certain countries where it is mandatory to possess a valid license from a competent body before you can secure a charter from the company.

Countries such as Greece, Spain, and Croatia are three prominent destinations within Europe where you would be required to produce valid qualification documentation.

Croatia not only insists on a skipper’s qualification but also publishes an official list of recognized authorities whose licenses are accepted within the country.

If you were to charter a boat in Croatia, you could expect the companies to insist on such a valid sailing license to go with a VHF license.

Similarly, in the Caribbean islands, there are a lot of different countries with their own laws and regulations pertaining to boat charter.

For example, the British Virgin Islands recently passed a law that requires skippers to possess a qualification that is recognized by the government.

Similarly, for charterers who wish to sail to US Virgin Islands, it is mandatory to hold the license issued by US Coast Guard.

Beach in the Bahamas Caribbean

What do the chartering companies check?

As mentioned above, a lot of chartering companies in countries that do not insist on formal qualification insist that potential clients demonstrate their competence and experience in handling a boat.

As a matter of fact, even in countries with mandatory qualification requirements for skippers, charter companies insist on proof of actual proficiency and experience.

There is, however, no cut-and-dried method when it comes to establishing your credentials as a skipper.

By and large, charter companies define it as the total time you have spent on water skippering a boat that is similar in size (within 10 feet) to the vessel you intend to hire.

As far as the skippering experience is concerned, ownership of a yacht, overall blue water sailing experience, prior charters, and time spent sailing in the last 5 years are counted as relevant in determining your fitness as a captain.

In addition, factors such as anchoring experience or time spent as part of a crew aboard a boat are also counted in your favor.

Any other documentary proof of your sailing experience or sailing qualification further sweetens the deal when it comes to chartering a boat.

It is not uncommon to see that individuals with experience as mentioned above as well as recognized license and documentary proof avail of significant discounts on boat insurance.

Sailing boats

What are your options if you do not have necessary experience?

However, you should certainly not feel disheartened if you do not fulfill the criteria described above.

You can still enjoy your dream sailing vacation by choosing one of the two following options. Firstly, you can simply enroll yourself in an established sailing school of good reputation.

This is one of the best ways to obtain a proof of practical competence that will hold you in good stead for a long time.

Sailing schools are the best way to get proper experience at the helm, and subsequently, you can charter boat by the day.

As a rough guess, you would be deemed to have enough experience as a sailboat skipper after going out on day charters for 18-20 times.

On the other hand, if you feel that obtaining the certificate and training is too much work, then feel free to simply engage the services of an experienced skipper.

There are many benefits of hiring the services of a skipper. Along with their professional experience as sailors, skippers also bring local knowledge with themselves, allowing you to see and explore coves and beaches that you would otherwise have missed.

Hiring a skipper means that you simply do not have to worry about any of the requirements mentioned above.

 Minimum recommended education to hire a boat

In terms of formal education, a postsecondary certificate is sufficient to enlist for technical skippers’ training.

If you are considering hiring a boat on your own, then it is recommended that you present the chartering company with a certificate of skipper course, along with clinical certificates in maneuvering under power, coastal navigation, and bareboat charter.

What to expect when you arrive at the boat?

Upon your arrival at the boat, you should expect the shore staff of the chartering company to greet you and provide a basic orientation about the boat as well as the general sailing areas in the region.

You would be provided with a thorough initiation with the boat and its navigational instruments.

You can also expect a comprehensive debriefing on special navigational notes, desirable sailing areas as well as restricted ones, and other important local knowledge.


Your checklist prior to departure

After arriving at the boat, it is a good practice to spend some time inspecting the boat in person in order to familiarize yourself with the gears and instruments.

In addition, I would recommend that you ask as many questions as possible about your sailing itinerary.

You should inquire whether they would offer tips or recommendations or even suggest changes to it.


By now, you should be clear about not just the prevailing licensing requirements in prominent maritime countries but also how to get an internationally accepted license for yourself.

As you can see, the requirements are fairly easy for those who wish to skipper the boat themselves.

And there is no stopping those who aren’t keen on a license, as they can simply engage the services of a professional skipper.

If you have any question left in your mind, simply, leave a comment just below, I’ll be glad to answer you as soon as possible:)

6 thoughts on “Requirement to Charter a Boat – Everything You Should Know!”

  1. Daniella, I have view your site, you have an enormous amout of knowledge throughout the whole site. Your pictures are very nice. Makes me want to jump right on one. On the review, I like that you did a review on each different type of boat. That will be good for your viewers, get them informed about the different types of vessels.

    Very beautiful site. You are going to do well here.

    • Hi Linda,

      When I go sailing, I personally like to know as much as possible information about the boat, which helps me plan properly my trip:) So I think it is very important to inform the readers about the type of yachts as well as details about the boat itself. It is not only useful for me but for everyone who wants to organize a successful sailing holiday.:)

      Thank you very much for the comment and for the compliment!

      Have a fantastic day:)

  2. Thank you ever so much for a interesting presentation on chartering a boat. I’ve been a skipper of various power boats for over 40 years, but I never sailed. Although there’re similar requirements in chartering a power boat vs. a sail boat, I will long remember the passion you generated by your imaginative approach to a complicated subject…..chartering a boat.

    Because of your in-depth understanding and ability to express the various aspects of chartering a boat, i.e., licensing requirements, sailing in different countries means different requirements, other options for sailing as required – sailing school or hire a qualified skipper, and most important, have a check-list for departure and arrival. It is the best review I’ve read about chartering a boat for an apprentice who wants to sail the ocean blue.

    • Hi Chuck,

      Thank you very much for the comment, I really appreciate!

      As you said, it is a complicated subject because every country has its own rules regarding boat license.

      I am glad you like the article!

      Have a wonderful day:)

  3. i see that your sight has sailboats that you can rent for the trip of a lifetime. For someone who wants to travel a little faster and not have to worry about the technical aspects of sailing, do you offer powerboats for rent as well. I think I would see more places in a power boat and it would be fun to go fast.


    • Hi Brad,

      A Powerboat is great if you want to sail fast, but they are far more expensive than sailboats.

      A motorboat is not the only option, catamarans are cheaper than the motorboats, and if you don’t want to take care of the technical stuff, you will need to hire a skipper or crew. In my opinion, you are better off with a catamaran!

       But that’s my personal opinion! 

      However, I hope it helped, and if you need more info about anything feel free to contact me, I am always happy to help!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!


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