Getting an ICC Certificate

Having a share in a French boat and getting the required paperwork

The French system is such that boat owners, or sharers, need to hold certain certificates to navigate a boat on the waterways there. The prospect of trying to obtain this paperwork puts a lot of people off considering a share in a boat in France when actually anyone capable of steering a boat on the UK Inland Waterways is capable of gaining the certificate with (usually) relative ease.

Below is some guidence and the cost of the course is also outlined, where all links open new pages on your browser. 

First you will need an International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft (or ICC) to provide evidence that you are competent to handle a boat. In the UK, this scheme is run by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). If you have had previous boat handling training, you may already have the necessary evidence of qualification for the ICC – the list of acceptable qualifications can be found here:

But don’t worry if you do not currently qualify. You simply need to take an RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Course. This is a practical course, takes 2 days, and costs in the region of £300. Details of the course and of a training centre near you can be found here:

If you have a partner who would benefit from basic crew training, this can often be done at the same time for a modest additional cost (as little as £25), making it, probably, a very enjoyable two days on the water. The relevant RYA course is the Inland Waterways Crew Course, more details here

There is no exam at the end of either course – you just do the two days and you get your ICC.


The other Certificate you will need is a Code Européen des Voies de Navigation Intérieure (CEVNI). This is like a Highway Code for European waterways, covering signs, rules and procedures. It looks daunting but is really mostly common sense. The CEVNI is only available to those holding an ICC. If you already qualify (see above), you can apply to take the test at a recognised centre or online:

If you are going to take an RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Course, the CEVNI test can be administered at the same time for a nominal cost (£30). The test is multiple choice and you can have the CEVNI Guidebook open in front of you, which makes is somewhat easier than you might expect.

To summerise, assuming you do not have ANY of the relavent qualifications, you go to this page and find somewhere to take it, you book the course for you (and a second person for a crew course at the same time if you wish and provided the trainer is OK with that) and then you ask to take the CENVI test at the end of your course.

You probably have to part with around £350.00 which for two days on a boat is probably less than the cost of a day boat for two days!