International Certificate of Competence


1.1 The ICC is a product of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Inland Water Committee (UN ECE IWC) Resolution 40 (hereafter called Resolution 40). This states that the ICC may be issued by a government of one state to its nationals and residents who may be on the waters of a foreign state, on condition that both accept the requirements and conditions set out in Resolution 40. Governments may appoint competent authorities to issue ICC on their behalf; the RYA is such a competent authority. 1.2 The ICC provides documentary assurance from one government to another that the holder meets the levels of competence laid down in Resolution 40. However, the acceptance of Resolution 40 is often caveated.


2.1 The origins of the ICC arose from navigation on the Rhine and the Danube and the need for reassurance that vessel operators were competent to ensure safety of navigation and protection of the environment as they moved from one country to another. As a result, on 29 January 1979, the United Nations Working Party on Inland Water Transport adopted Resolution 14 which recommended the introduction of a European document for an International Certificate (International Card) to provide those assurances. The Resolution was also intended to facilitate ‘waterborne tourism’. Until then operators could well have been expected to produce competency certificates for each country whose waters they were on.

2.2 In the mid-nineties, the Working Group on Inland Water Transport considered that Resolution 14 needed updating and strengthening and on 16 October 1998 the Working Party adopted their revisions as Resolution 40 ; this replaced Resolution 14.

2.3 The International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft created in Resolution 40 is now more commonly referred to as the International Certificate of Competence or simply ICC. The ICC is only applicable where the visited state has also adopted or recognises the ICC as a valid standard of competency.


3.1 Resolution 40 not only included operators of pleasure craft bound for or on the inland and coastal waters of foreign states but specifically included bareboat charter vessels. Significantly, it also set out the nautical, regulatory and technical competency requirements to be achieved and a minimum age (16 years of age) for the issue of an ICC irrespective of individual national schemes.

3.2 It is the professional opinion of the UNECE IWC that the standards set out in Resolution 40 provide a reasonable and appropriate level of competence for day sailing with due regard to the safety of navigation and crew and the protection of the environment. It is strongly recommended that governments recognise this rather than be drawn into discussions on where the ICC may or may not fit into their own national schemes – much the same as acceptance of the international driving licence.

3.3 To date and somewhat surprisingly, only 22 countries have adopted either resolution so far and only 9 of these are EU members. Notwithstanding this there are some countries that have not yet adopted Resolution 40 that will readily accept or even demand an ICC from visiting foreign yachtsmen as proof of competence. This situation is confusing and does not augment nautical tourism. It is strongly recommended that all governments follow the lead taken by those that have adopted Resolution 40 so far, recognise it as an acceptable assurance of competence in its own right and notify the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe accordingly.

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