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What is an International Sailing Certificate?

Sailing certifications

Setting sail outside of the U.S. and not sure if you need a sailing certificate? Read on to discover everything you need to know about international 

sailing certificates, when you need them, and how to get one: 

What is an international sailing certificate?

An international sailing certificate is proof that you meet the basic requirements to sail a yacht. In many countries, sailors are required to have an international sailing license to rent a sailboat. However, there are a few different types of sailing certificates available for international sailors. The three main certificates are the International Proficiency Certificate (IPC), The International Sailing License and Credentials (SLC), and the The International Certificate of Competence (ICC). 

How do I choose between ICC vs. IPC vs. SLC sailing certificates?

The International Certificate of Competence (ICC) is the sailing license approved by the United Nations. This international certificate is best for European based sailors. That’s because these licenses are issued by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which only has 1 issuing school in Canada and 3 in the U.S.   

On the other hand, the International Proficiency Certificate (IPC) is quite easy to obtain for U.S. sailors. Sailors can receive an IPC certificate through any American Sailing Association (ASA) school. For example, you can obtain your IPC after taking in-person sailing courses at Go Sail Virgin Islands.  

Alternatively, U.S. citizens can also apply for The International Sailing License and Credentials (SLC) which is accredited through the U.S. Coast Guard. This certificate requires sailors to complete a sizable amount of online training so is better suited for sailors who already have extensive hands-on sailing experience. 

Do I automatically receive a sailing certificate after completing ASA courses?

Once you complete ASA 101 (Basic Keelboat Sailing), ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising), and ASA 104 (Bareboat Cruising), you’ll have the opportunity to apply for an IPC sailing certificate. Go Sail Virgin Islands helps students apply for their license at no extra cost after completing the required courses. All the student has to do is provide Go Sail Virgins with a passport-like photo and Go Sail will take it from there!  

Can I buy a sailing certificate without taking sailing courses or training?

Do not fall victim to scams offering sailing certificates for purchase! The IPC, ICC, and SLC international sailing certificates all require sailing training to become certified. It is not recommended to obtain your sailing certificate from other companies offering certifications as they will likely not be widely accepted by international charter companies. 

Do I need an international sailing certificate to sail in the Virgin Islands?

You do not need a sailing certificate to rent a boat with most sailing charter companies in the Virgin Islands. However, you do need to have sailing experience before setting sail without a captain on board. Having a sailing certificate is a great way to show you possess the experience necessary to rent a boat. Additionally, once you receive your IPC sailing certificate with Go Sail Virgin Islands, you’ll be able to bareboat charter in many European countries (like Croatia, France, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey) on your next sailing adventure!