How to Get an International Sailing License in the US

A man on a sailing boat after getting his sailing license.

Published January 7, 2022

How can you obtain a sailing license quickly? What are the legal sailing licenses that are allowed in the United States? And who requires one? We have the answers to all of these major issues and many more in this Seafari article; continue reading.

How to Get an International Sailing License

To obtain one, you must follow the following instructions:

  • Acquire sailing expertise and enroll in several theoretical classes to develop a good mindset. 
  • Enroll in an online sailing course to get things started and interact with critical issues. 
  • Now, enroll in a formal course such as ASA 101 to learn the hands-on methods and earn a sailing license. The US Sailing Captain’s Training course (available online and in-person) is also an excellent way to get started with hands-on practices.
A sailboat needs a sailing license to operate.

5 Sailing Licenses Available in the US

There are five main sailing licenses that are legal in the USA:

1. ICC (International Certificate of Competence)

As previously stated, this is a pass indicating your ability to operate a sailboat. The United Nations developed this permit to ensure that tourists and foreigners renting boats on their territory do not pose a problem. To obtain a sailing license such as the ICC, one must be a resident of a nation that has signed the UNR40. This is the document that certifies your nation of residence is a member of the program and that its institutions are authorized to issue this pass.

However, since the United States is not part of this program, you may have difficulty obtaining it in your location. Indeed, the RYA institute in Florida is the only facility that can give you such certification. Therefore, if getting an ICC license is critical, you’ll need to purchase a plane ticket to Florida.

2. SLC™ (Sailing License and Credentials)

Given the difficulty of obtaining an ICC pass in the United States, NauticEd has established an alternative certification — SLC™. This paperwork enables sailors to charter a boat in Mediterranean locations without demonstrating their sailing ability. Indeed, this is a two-step process that begins with an online Bareboat Charter Master course and culminates with a one-day competency evaluation.

After passing the evaluation step, you will be charged $95 for the issuance procedure by NauticEd. The SLC™ pass will be accessible as a PDF file immediately upon payment. You can print it and use it as the required document when renting a boat in Mediterranean regions.

After the assessment is complete, you’ll begin a 50-day period during which you should record on-water data. That is, you must use NauticEd’s free Online Logbook to record your actions while overseas for fifty days. Later, you can request a license and wait for it to be issued.

Keep in mind that the SLC™ license is $270, including taxes and issuing fees. Due to the fact that the entire process is conducted online, you can save paying for transportation and/or hotel accommodations. This pass will take no more than 60 days to obtain. During this time period, you will not be required to commute to a sailing school.

3. ASA’s International Proficiency Certificate

The ASA offered an alternative to ICC certification called IPC. This pass entitles holders to rent a sailboat, powerboat, or yacht in the Mediterranean. Indeed, it is very similar to SLC — as described above. The only difference is that you must first complete the prerequisite classes in order to qualify for the examinations. Simply put, the ASA demands that you pass ASA 101, 103, and 104 before enrolling in the IPC.

This may result in an increase in your monthly bills. Considering the cost of the cheapest ASA courses ranges between $400 and $700, some sailors prefer the SLC over the IPC. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in obtaining an ASA-approved pass, here’s how to proceed. To begin, enroll in a legitimate course in your area. Additionally, look for one that incorporates all three prerequisite lessons — 101, 103, and 104. Following that, obtain your ASA sailing certification and register for the online IPC exam. The license will be awarded immediately upon successful completion of the test.

According to these counties, the IPC is a valid certification for boaters:

  • Austria
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Turkey

4. US Sailing International Proficiency Certificate©

US Sailing developed an alternative certification for American boaters that can be used in place of the difficult-to-acquire ICC. Obtaining this organization’s International Proficiency Certificate permits any sailor to charter boats in the Mediterranean and EU. This pass is valid in both European Union and Mediterranean waters. The boater, on the other hand, should keep the papers with them during their journey.

To be eligible for this documentation, you must first join US Sailing. This will enable you to progress to the next stage, which is obtaining US Sailing certification via Bareboat Cruising. If you believe the course is unnecessary, you may skip it and immediately administer a test. Passing the examinations, on the other hand, will qualify you for the application phase, during which you will fill out some documents online and await a response from US Sailing. This is the final step, and your license will be mailed to you within a few days.

5. USCG Captain’s License

We have a comprehensive guide on how to obtain a sailing captain’s license that contains valuable information about the USCG Captain’s License. This is mandatory documentation for any non-recreational boaters who earn money from their vessel. Indeed, whether you are transporting paying customers abroad or conducting tours on the water, this pass is a must-have. Otherwise, your actions will be regarded as illegal.

To obtain this license, you must complete US Captain Training classes and maintain a diary of your on-water statistics for a minimum of 180 days (for 33.4 gross tons or larger vessels). Following that, you must administer an examination on the Captain’s Training course and attempt to earn the required points on each field. Finally. You should construct a file with the required papers and send it to the USCG. They will then evaluate your profile and issue you a license within 14 days.

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