What is an RYA International Certificate of Competence?

  • Patrick Maflin
    Patrick Maflin

If you operate a pleasure craft you will need to have an International Certificate of Competence.

This is essentially a license that is required if you are going to operate a pleasure vessel, such as a yacht.

In the chapters below, explore more detail about this certification and what it entails.


  1. What is the International Certificate of Competence?
  2. Who Needs an ICC?
  3. What’s Required to Obtain an ICC?
  4. How Can I Get an RYA International Certificate of Competence?
  5. What's Resolution 40 & Why is it Important?E
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Conclusion

What is the International Certificate of Competence?

Example RYA ICC CertificateExample of an RYA ICC Certificate

The International Certificate of Competence (ICC) is intended to prove evidence of competence.

It can be requested by officials in the country where one is visiting.

The ICC provides assurance that the certificate holder is competent to operate a pleasure craft safely, despite the fact that one is not a resident or citizen of that particular country.

The UK ICC is issued by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) on behalf of the UK Government.

This is done under the authorisation of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The ICC is issued in conformity with Resolution No. 40 of the UNECE’s Working Party on Inland Water Transport.

Who Needs an ICC?

Super Yacht Owner

When visiting another country you need to ensure that you are compliant with the maritime legislation that applies there.

Since there may be variances from one country to another, the ICC offers peace of mind from the government of your country of residence, to that of the country which you are visiting, that you are sufficiently competent.

You will need to fulfil the following criteria to be eligible for an ICC:

  • Have at least 16 years of age.
  • Be physically and mentally fit to operate a pleasure craft, especially with regards to vision and hearing.

What’s Required to Obtain an ICC?

The UK ICC that is issued by the RYA is not available to nationals of countries which have adopted the Resolution No. 40, unless these are residents in the UK.

You will need to provide copies of official documentation where you can demonstrate your name, date of birth, nationality and address.

The photograph that you supply will need to be considered as being a true likeness.

How Can I Get an RYA International Certificate of Competence?

There are two ways for you to get an RYA International Certificate of Competence:

One Day Assessment

This is an intensive assessment on-the-water which is completed, as the name implies, in just one day.

There is no instruction involved in this assessment.

There will be an assessor who will ask the applicant theoretical questions in various areas.

The assessor will expect a practical demonstration by the applicant in order to ascertain his level of competence.

This includes, determining tidal heights and current flows, plotting and following courses, navigation techniques, meteorology, and being knowledgeable about day markers, lights and cardinal buoys, among others.

RYA Day Skipper Certification

This is a five day training on the water, which is combined with extensive theory training.

The latter will require you to complete the NauticEd RYA Day Skipper course online before commencing the practical training component.

After these five days, if you have demonstrated proper competence and learning, you will be awarded the RYA Day Skipper Certificate which will allow you to qualify for the ICC.

What's Resolution 40 & Why is it Important?

Pleasure Craft in Marina

The ICC is issued only in conformity with Resolution 40 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Working Party on Inland Water Transport.

It details how, and to whom, the ICC can be issued.

It also details the syllabus requirements as well as the layout of the certificate.

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

Resolution 40 was signed by 22 European countries.

These signatory countries appoint their sailing governing bodies to take care of the issuing of the ICC to their respective citizens.

In this way the different governments are ensuring that those who hold an ICC are competent enough to sail safely, even if they go to do so in another country.

Resolution 40 makes provisions for those who pass an ICC assessment too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need to be an RYA Member to Apply for an ICC?

No, you do not have to be an RYA member to apply for the ICC. However, if you are, the application for the ICC is free.

Can a UK Citizen Get an ICC from the RYA?

Yes, you can. With the ICC application, you will need to provide a copy of a document, or a number of documents which will enable the RYA to verify your nationality. Generally your passport is considered sufficient evidence.

I’ve Been Sailing for Years But Never Taken a Course. Can I Get a UK-Issued ICC?

Yes you may, however in such cases you will probably be required to take ICC assessments in order to demonstrate your competence for the various categories for which you intend to have validated on your ICC.

Can I Transfer a non-RYA Qualification into an ICC?

Generally speaking non-RYA certificates are not deemed as sufficient evidence of one’s competence to have an ICC issued. You can however use any certificates issued for or on behalf of the MCA to demonstrate your competence when applying for an ICC.

How Much Does the International Certificate of Competence Cost?

If you are an RYA member you will not need to pay any fee for an ICC.

Charges for non-RYA members are as follows:

  • £50 for new applications.
  • £25 for a replacement of a lost certificate with the expiry date unchanged.
  • £10 for updating details.
  • £99 fast track service fee.

Can I Get an ICC with Powerboat Level 2?

The ICC may have the validity for power specified. The applicant will need to demonstrate that they are sufficiently competent to drive powerboats of certain lengths. The 10m length restriction can be lifted and there will be “Power - Yes” marked on the ICC. The type of vessels for which the ICC is valid for will be determined by the legislation of relevant flag and coastal states.

How Long is an ICC Valid For?

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


Having an International Certificate of Competence is important if you intend to sail or operate a sea vessel in other countries.

It can give you the assurance that you have everything in order to be approved to sail anywhere.

Once you have approval to operate your vessel such as a super-yacht, then you are free to start the process of employing yacht crew and taking guests on board your vessel for hospitality purposes.

It’s important to have all your affairs in order before you embark on such a journey.

Employing yacht hospitality staff as well as other crew members is a huge responsibility, so you must ensure you have all the correct credentials in place.

Once done, your journey towards a potentially tax-free life on the seas is a real possibility.

Of course, if you are unsure of your own tax position as well as those you employ, feel free to speak to one of our expert yacht crew tax specialists.

Disclaimer: Any advice in this publication is not intended or written by Marine Accounts to be used by a client or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party matters herein.