Do I Need a Licence to Rent a Boat?

Published On January 31, 2022 | By Staff Writer | Travel Planning
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In order to rent a boat, do I need a license? Here’s what you need to know:

The question, “Do I need a license to rent a boat?” is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get. We get it. The majority of people don’t have a license, but they are still interested in booking a boat trip even if they don’t have one.

I have a short answer to this question: No, you do not need a license to rent a boat. At least as long as you’re not the one doing the actual sailing, that is.

The long version is, at Sailo, we offer visitors to the site two types of booking options: bareboat charters or captain-guided charters.

The first option is essentially renting a boat without a crew or any supplies, and you or someone on your boat WILL need a license if you choose this option. In this option, you can create your own itinerary, cook your own meals, and ultimately, be the captain of your own ship. If you are a sailing fanatic, this is the best way to practice your favorite hobby while having a truly custom-tailored vacation with your friends and family.

In case you decide to choose the second option, you will be provided with an additional charge of a captain, who is a person who can guide and steer your boat and who is responsible for the safety of everyone on board. You will be able to enjoy your vacation without any stress, and you might even be able to learn a little bit about sailing while you’re on board.

Rental of a Boat with a Licence: Bareboat Option

In most countries, if you want to rent a boat, you’ll need a boat license that’s recognized by the country where you’ll be sailing. For example, in Europe, most licenses issued by foreign countries are accepted as long as they are deemed equivalent to licenses issued locally. If you want to be on the safe side, you can always apply for the International Certificate of Competence (ICC) in your home country in addition to your local boat licence. In many countries around the world, the ICC is accepted as a proof that the holder has completed formal education and has all the necessary boating skills to operate a vessel in open waters.

It is important to note, however, that a licence for open waters does not typically apply to inland waters, and most countries require a separate inland water licence. In cases where a boat is equipped with a radio, in order to operate it, you will also need a radio license. The most common radio licence is the VHF license, which is also known as the Short Range Certificate (SRC). There may also be other types of radio licences accepted, such as an aircraft radio licence, but this should be confirmed with the boat operator beforehand. At the end of the day, it is the operator of the boat or the insurer of the operator who decides whether to accept or decline a license.

The Captain (Skipper) Option: Leasing a Boat Without a Licence

You can choose to book a yacht charter with a captain (skipper) with your boat if you do not have a license to operate an open boat, but still wish to enjoy an incredible boat holiday. We are able to include a captain with each of our 30,000 chartered yachts in each of our 500 destinations. In addition to being responsible for sailing and navigation, the skipper of a boat also assumes the liability of that vessel. Additionally, they know all about the local hotspots and can advise you on everything from the best sailing routes to the best local cuisine in the area.

In any case, if you’re a curious traveler that would like to take away some sailing skills from their trip, the captains will give you an opportunity to get involved, including by helping them raise the sails and drop anchor. Before you make your way aboard, learn the basic nautical terms so you will be ahead of the game. It is important to know that if you are looking to relax, have no fear, they will also give you the privacy and space to enjoy the tranquility of the sea. Remember, this is your vacation after all.

Six Questions to Ask Before Booking a Captain (Skipper)

1. Do I need a captain (skipper) on my boat?

If you need to ask, then you probably do. I think it’s great to have a captain to take the lead even if you are a skilled sailer. A captain does more than just navigate. During the whole trip, they are responsible for ensuring the safety of the boat and its passengers. They must know the area very well and it is a demanding job. Therefore, if your goal is to take a relaxing vacation to totally unwind, you’ll probably want a captain to handle everything boat-related during the trip. In addition, the captain may be able to help you discover the area. Besides knowing where to anchor, he or she also knows which islands are worth checking out.

2. Who selects the captain?

We recommend that you let us know whether you need a captain when you make your reservation. If you do, the charter company – who has good relationships with local captains – will suggest one for your booking. If you have any special requests or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask the charter after you have made the booking.

3. Does my captain speak English?

Usually, your captain will be able to speak at least some basic English, as well as the local language. They must communicate both with their guests and with the locals. When booking, communicate your needs with the charter if you have any concerns.

4. Does the yacht charter include the captain’s fees?

I’m afraid not. A captain’s fee is normally paid before boarding, since he or she works independently of charter companies. A captain’s fee depends on a variety of factors. You can expect to pay about €150 per day. The cost is well worth it.

5. What is the captain’s sleeping place?

In most vessels, the captain sleeps in a small “crew” cabin. You must designate one cabin in your boat for your captain if you book a boat without one.

6. Is it my responsibility to feed the captain?

When you hire a captain, you have to consider one more mouth to feed throughout your stay on board. Hence, when purchasing food and (non-alcoholic) beverages for consumption on the boat, you should consider the captain’s needs. You will not have to pay for food or accommodations while on land.

Take a boat tour of the Mediterranean Sea! Rent a yacht with Sailo now


Photo by Luke Bender on Unsplash

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