Sailing Qualifications Around the World

Have you ever dreamed of sailing a yacht around the globe? Visiting sunny beaches, historical sites, and stunning landscapes that are only accessible from the sea?

The easiest way to do this is by chartering a crewed yacht – all you must do is get on the boat and lean back.

The other option is a bareboat charter, and you can sail that yacht yourself!

If you consider this option, you should know about the essential sailing certifications and licenses that will entitle you to a charter a yacht in Greece and elsewhere. These are the qualifications and experiences that provide the knowledge for safe adventures at sea.

The most important sailing qualifications

Different sailing qualifications, yacht certifications and boating licenses are available in different countries. The three internationally accepted sailing certificates and providers are:

1) American Sailing Association (ASA) certification

2) International Yacht Training (IYT) certification

3) International Certificate of Competence (ICC), issued for example by the RYA

The American Sailing Association is US-based, serving worldwide as a non-profit organization that provides training and certificates for recreational sailing.

Commercial and racing qualifications require additional training. Those are offered by the International Yacht Training. The main advantage of IYT is that it includes courses in different languages, where ASA courses offer programs only in English.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the UK-equivalent to the ASA.

sailing qualifications licenses ASA

The American Sailing Association

The American Sailing Association provides essential knowledge and practice to obtain the abilities and skills required to charter a yacht (or even buy one) for recreational purposes.

The ASA provides various standard certification programs like Keelboat Sailing, Basic Small Boat Sailing, Coastal Cruising, and Multihull Sailing as well as theoretical knowledge like Marine Weather, Celestial Navigation, and Radar.

Each level of ASA certification depends on various written tests and on-water practical exams through ASA affiliate schools and sailing academies.

ASA Beginner Courses

These courses provide the basic knowledge of sailing and skippering.

These sailing courses take between two days and a week and include a combination of theory and practical tasks. These courses are called ASA 101-103 and you will gain the knowledge needed to assist a captain or skipper as a member of the crew.

ASA Intermediate Courses

Intermediate sailing courses take three days to multiple weeks and include locally available practical experience. It is ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising, while the IYT, calls them Worldwide Bareboat Skipper, the RYA calls them Day Skipper. These courses are pointed toward skills to sail keelboats of 30 to 45 feet in inland or coastal waters and in winds of up to 30 knots.

ASA Advanced Courses

Most advanced sailing courses are known as Yacht Master Courses. ASA partitions these courses into 106, 107, and 108. These sailing certifications provide the skills needed to sail a vessel of 30 to 50 feet in any condition. The ASA 108 Offshore Passagemaking Course entitles you to leave inland and coastal waters to literally cross oceans.

The skills include advanced navigational skills to sail deep waters, different conditions (climate, time of day, winds etc.) and advanced first aid that could be provided on a boat far away from land.

sailing qualifications licenses IYT

International Yacht Training (IYT)

The International Yacht Training offers the IYT's expert yachtsman courses and hybrid projects to set you up for your career in yachting. IYT works with sailing courses that have been endorsed by the Canadian government and are internationally recognized to train skippers for commercial sailing licenses.

Whether you are an inexperienced mariner barely out to have a good time on water (recreational sailing) or want to work in the superyacht business, IYT is the universally accredited and confided in standard of yachting.  The offered sailing courses and schools are located around the world, hence offering sailing courses in different countries and languages.

Recreational Courses

The IYT offers a series of nautical courses in a modular format to offer a progression in sailing. They call it the “International Boating & Sailing Passport”.

This includes (but not limited to) the following certificates and sailing qualifications:

  • Ocean International Certificate of Competency (ICC Certificate)
  • IYT Introductory Sailing Skills
  • IYT Commercial Tender License Course
  • International Bareboat Skipper Sail
  • Yacht Master Coastal Sail
  • Powerboat Skipper
  • Weather Master
  • Navigation Master

Superyacht Courses

Apart from courses for recreational sailing, the IYT also offers courses for professional yachting. Whatever preparation you need, you will learn the skills you need to accomplish your goals and guide you towards a satisfying career in superyachting. These courses include (but are not limited to):

  • Marine Communications (VHF-SRC)
  • Small Powerboat and Rib Master (MCA Recognized)
  • Superyacht Deck Crew Course
  • STCW Elementary First Aid
  • STCW Basic Fire Fighting & Fire Prevention
  • Master of Yachts Limited (Power or Sail)
  • Master of Yachts Unlimited

eLearning Courses by IYT

To offer flexible learning options on your way to a sailing qualification, the IYT offers online boating courses and preparation courses. You can study at your own time and pace before you put everything into practice at one of the partner schools.

These are some of the courses you can do from the comfort of your home:

  • Marine Communications Master–VHF Short Range Certificate 
  • Small Powerboat & RIB Master–MCA Recognized Certificate  
  • International Certificates of Competency 24M (ICCs)
  • International Certificate of Competency 10M (ICCs)
  • Maritime Business & Law 

International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

The correct name of this sailing qualification is International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft and can be issued by different sport boating associations. Which ones those are, is different for every country.

The ICC is generally required for sailing in Europe and the Mediterranean and it is globally accepted. It verifies that a captain or skipper is prepared to sail a yacht for recreational purposes. It is not suitable as a commercial skipper license.

Outside the yachting industry, this sailing certification is usually referred to as a boating license and can be seen as a global driver's license for sailing in different countries. The ICC sailing qualification usually follows after advanced sailing courses.

The ICC course is split in two parts: The theory assessment and the practical assessment.

The ICC Theory Assessment

In the theoretical part, the candidate needs to proof skills in the following areas:

  • ‍Navigation and chart work
  • Study of latitude/longitude bearings and distance measuring
  • How to identify shapes; night lights, day ships, sound signals
  • Regulations for international boating
  • How to use VHF Radio
  • Buoyage

The ICC Practical Assessment

The practical part requires the following skills:

  • Primary medical care and first aid
  • Leaving and returning the boat to the waterfront
  • Engine checks
  • Boating safety
  • Anchorage
  • Fire safety

sailing qualifications licenses RYA

Royal Yachting Association (RYA)

In the UK, the ICC is issued by the Royal Yachting Association and the assessment can be done within one day. Its schools and training centers however are not limited to the UK and can be found in different locations in Europe.

The RYA offers a mix of theoretical and practical courses starting from Essential Navigation and Seamanship Courses, Navigational Courses and First Aid Courses on dry land ranging to practical courses in Motor Cruising and Sailing.

Competent Crew

The most basic sailing qualification by the RYA is the competent crew certificate. It can be achieved in approximately a week and equips the candidate with the essentials skills and knowledge to help as a crew member on a sailing yacht.

Day Skipper

The Day Skipper qualification provides the skills needed to sail a boat of up to 15m length by day in familiar waters. It contains chartwork, navigation, meteorology and the basics of seamanship and the candidate will be equipped to start making decisions on board.

The candidate can now also take the ICC assessment; however some additional learning will be involved to pass.

Coastal Skipper

The next qualification is the Coastal Skipper which will enable the candidate to sail a yacht of up to 15m by day and night on coastal and offshore passages. This is an advanced course and sailing qualification and can lead up to an ICC assessment.


The final sailing qualification is the Yachtmaster.  Is it split into 3 further levels:

  • Yachtmaster Coastal: Vessels up to 24m length and up to 20 miles from safe haven
  • Yachtmaster Offshore: Vessels up to 24 m length and up to 150 miles from safe haven
  • Yachtmaster Ocean: Vessels of up to 24m length, 200gt anywhere in the world

Sailing Qualifications required for Bareboat Charters in Greece

The Greek law requires the skipper to hold a valid sailing license in English language (or translated to English) for bareboat charters. The co-skipper must have sailing experience and sign a declaration.

The Greek Port Authorities may not accept a RYA Day Skipper License or similar national qualifications from your home country. We therefore recommend for the skipper to hold an ICC qualification. Alternatively, Fyly offers skippered charters.

All our charters include third party insurance. For damages to the vessel, we offer options for security damage deposits.

Get in touch for further information



Do I need a license to charter a boat in Greece?

Yes. According to Greek law, the skipper must hold a valid sailing license in English.

What sailing qualifications are accepted for boat charters in Greece?

The law requires a sailing qualification, the Greek Port Authorities though may not accept Day Skipper licenses. We recommend an ICC qualification.

Do you need a license to sail a Catamaran?

Any boat charter in Greece requires a valid sailing qualification. That included Catamarans as well.

How do I become ICC certified?

An ICC qualification requires theoretical and practical training. In the US, those courses are offered by the ASA, in the UK by the RYA. Both sailing associations provide the option to take an ICC assessment at a certain point. There are different options and sailing schools in every country around the world.

Can I sail in Greece with a RYA certificate?

According to Greek law, you can charter a boat with a RYA qualification, however the Port Authorities may ask for an ICC license.

Can I sail in Greece with an ASA certificate?

According to Greek law, you can charter a boat with an ASA qualification, however the Port Authorities may ask for an ICC license.