International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

Background    How to Apply    CEVNI    Advice for Charterers

If you cruise outside the UK, whether in your own boat or a charter vessel, you will be asked for a variety of documents in every port you visit, including in some cases a certificate of competence and this requirement will vary from country to country.  Sometimes it is a requirement for coastal waters, sometimes for inland waters, sometimes for neither and sometimes for both.  It really is as clear as mud.  The only certainty is that, as skipper of a vessel, you must ensure that you are aware of any requirement for qualifications and certification before venturing into another country's jurisdiction.

Although only guaranteed to be accepted in countries that have adopted the relevant UN Resolution, the ICC is nevertheless a useful document to carry if you are skippering a UK flagged vessel on a short visit to a foreign country.  It is usually valid for five years and will generally be accepted where proof of competence is required.


The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Inland Transport Committee Resolution 40 International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft is documentary assurance from one government to another that the holder meets the levels of competence laid down in Resolution 40.  As all this is a bit of a mouthful, in the UK it is known as the International Certificate of Competence, and abbreviated to ICC.

An ICC allows the holder to navigate a pleasure craft to or in the waters of foreign states that participate in Resolution 40 without the need to comply with those states' certification requirements, which in many cases are compulsory.

The UK is one of only a handful of countries which have fully accepted Resolution 40.  Many still apply Resolution 14, which Resolution 40 was intended to replace.  Others only apply Resolution 40 in part.  Although this makes it very confusing, the ICC is widely accepted as proof of the holder's competence.  For example, Spain, Greece and Portugal have not adopted Resolution 40 but are still most likely to ask visitors for an ICC.

The RYA is working towards wider acceptance of Resolution 40 and conformity in its application so that it becomes more like an international driving licence.  In the meantime, the onus is very much on ICC holders to determine its acceptability by foreign states.

How to Apply

The RYA is the UK issuing authority for the ICC and to obtain it you must prove your competence.  If you have attended an appropriate RYA training course then presenting your certificate with your application should be sufficient.  Otherwise you will need to take a practical test at a RYA recognised training centre. 

The ICC has six categories and, when the certificate is issued, only the categories for which competence has been proven will be validated.

Coastal The RYA practical training course or practical test must have been taken on coastal waters
Inland The applicant must have passed the CEVNI test at a RYA recognised training centre
Power up to 10m Which of these categories are validated depends on which certificates the applicant presents, or in the case of a practical test, is related to the vessel on which the test was completed
Power 10m and over
Personal Watercraft This category will only be validated if a RYA Personal Watercraft Proficiency Certificate is presented as proof of competence.  The practical test is not available.

There is a useful table on page 4 of the application form showing which Certificates of Competence are acceptable as evidence and the categories to which they apply.  As a rule of thumb, however, Powerboat Level 2 and Day Skipper Certificates or above will be accepted.

The completed ICC application form should be sent together with a passport sized photograph and payment, currently £40, to the Certification Department, of the RYA.  Issue of the ICC is free of charge for RYA members.  Photocopies, not originals, of relevant Certificates of Competence should accompany the form as evidence of competence.


CEVNI stands for Code Européen des Voies de Navigation Intérieure and is the code governing navigation on the interconnected European inland waterways.  It includes the signs, rules and procedures that pleasure craft on the inland waterways, which in places are heavily utilised by commercial traffic, are expected to know and follow.

If you require an ICC valid for use on inland waters you must learn the code and sit the CEVNI test at a RYA recognised training centre.  The CEVNI test is a short multiple choice paper and there is no separate certificate.  The training centre will confirm the successful completion of the test by signing the relevant section of the ICC application form.  You must also present a qualifying RYA practical course completion certificate or pass an ICC practical test and be eligible to be issued with an ICC.

Advice for Charterers

Some states may accept ICC as an alternative to their national qualification on their nationally flagged vessels but this should not be assumed.  If you are planning to charter abroad you should obtain from the charter company, preferably in writing, details of the certification they require, the cruising area this is acceptable for and that this certification will also meet the requirements of the relevant authorities in the area concerned.

Publication Date: April 2010


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ICC Application Form