Boat licenses and licenses in Spain: types and requirements

Nautical Channel
20 Oct 2023
NEWS | Marine Life

Obtaining a boat license is essential for anyone interested in recreational boating, as it ensures that boaters have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a boat.

If you want to obtain a boat license, there are different modalities and titles that you can acquire, which we will discuss below.

Types of boat license

All those nautical vehicles whose power does not exceed 15 hp are exempt from licensing as long as the length does not exceed 5 meters, they are sailed during the day and do not go farther than 2 miles from the coast.

Not all boats require a license.

Coastal Navigation License

This is the most basic of all licenses. It is done in a 6-hour course, 4 hours of practice and 2 hours of theory. It is suitable for beginners and small boats, such as fishing boats or jet skis.

It allows daytime navigation in boats up to 6 meters in length and a maximum distance of 2 miles from the coast. To obtain it, you must be over 16 years old and undergo a psychophysical examination. This is the only license you can obtain when you are a minor.

During the training to obtain this license, you will learn basic maneuvers inside the port, the checks before going out to sea and the most used knots. You will also learn the basic rights of way to avoid collisions, notions of safe navigation and maritime signaling.

Recreational Boats Skipper License

This is the most common boat license and, like the previous one, it does not require any previous nautical qualification. It is a title for skippers who want to go fishing at night or skippers who want to start sailing, since it authorizes day and night navigation.

To obtain this license you have to take a training course and practices in a nautical school. The course includes 12 hours of short-range radio operator (4 theoretical and 8 practical) and 16 hours of navigation practices.

It is possible to extend the attributions of this license, which would allow you to work as a professional. To do so, you must complete a 24-hour navigation that includes night navigation. Once passed, you will be able to govern boats up to 24 meters in length and navigate between islands, both Balearic and Canary Islands.

Yacht Skipper License

With this license you can sail boats up to 24 meters in length, with a geographical limit of 150 miles, day and night.

Not only that, with this boat license you can also perform mooring, anchoring, towing or displacement of boats. As well as to carry out sea trials of boats and motorcycles and to govern boats that are destined to lifeguarding on the beaches.

The first requirement to obtain it is to be in possession of the previous license. In addition, you will have to pass a theoretical exam and carry out practical tests of navigation of height of 48h.

Yacht Captain's License

The most advanced license, the highest recreational boating qualification. To obtain this license, you must first have obtained the Yacht Master license. To obtain the Yacht Captain's License, applicants must meet rigorous requirements and demonstrate a high level of sailing experience and knowledge.

Apart from that, you will have to do an internship on an approved vessel. This practice has a duration of 48 hours, of which a minimum of 36 hours will be of crossing regime. You will also have to stay at least one full navigation watch during the day and another one at night.

This license allows navigation without geographical restrictions and in any type of boat, either day or night.

In addition, you could perform sea trials of pleasure boats and nautical motorcycles, govern boats for lifeguarding on beaches, such as yacht skipper. And to this we add, the power to skipper pleasure boats with 6 passengers on board for tourist excursions or for fishing up to 5 miles from the coast.

In conclusion, obtaining a boat license is not only a legal requirement, but also a guarantee of safety and responsibility on the water. These documents not only certify skills and knowledge, but also represent the boaters' commitment to excellence and compliance with maritime regulations.

So whether you're considering exploring the oceans or simply enjoying the serenity of a lake, make sure you have the right boat license.

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