Do I Need a Licence to Rent a Boat?

Updated 7 January 2020

”Do I need a licence to rent a boat?” is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get here at Zizoo. And we get it. Most people out there don’t have licences, but are still interested in booking a boat trip. 

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Sailboat Bavaria Cruiser 41 (2018)
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Sailboat Bavaria Cruiser 40 (2009)
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The short answer to this question is, No, you don’t need a license to rent a boat. As long as you’re not the one doing the actual sailing, that is.

Now, here’s the long version: At Zizoo, we offer holiday goers two types of bookings: bareboat charters or skipper-guided charters.

If you book the first option, you’re essentially renting a boat without any crew or provisions, and you or someone on your boat WILL need a license. With this option, you can customise your itinerary, cook your own meals, and ultimately, be your own captain. If you’re a sailing fanatic, it’s the best way to practice your favorite hobby while on an uber-personalized trip with friends and family. 

If you book the second option, a skipper, aka someone who can guide and sail your boat and is liable for the safety of everyone on board, will be provided to you at an extra charge. It’s a stress-free way to enjoy your vacation, and maybe even learn a thing or two about sailing while you’re on board. 

Read on for more details on both options.

Renting a boat from Zizoo with a valid boating licence.

Bareboat Option: Rent a Boat With a Boat Licence

To rent a boat in most countries you’ll need an internationally recognized boat license, such as ICCCEVNI, as well as a Radio Licence. These former two types of certifications prove the holder has undergone formal training and has all the necessary boating skills to manage a vessel in international waters. If you have a licence from your home country, you can usually fill out an ICC application and send it in with proof of your current licence to receive an ICC certificate.

Boat license requirements can vary from boat to boat. When renting a motorboat, the licence requirements often vary from those of a sailboat. The best way to determine what kind of licence you will need — depending on destination and boat type — is to ask the charter you book with, and if you’re booking with Zizoo, you’ll be given the chance to ask when one of our holiday planners gets in touch with you to finalize details.

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Catamaran Fountaine Pajot Saba 50 (2019)
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Sailboat Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 (2018)
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Skipper Option: Rent a Boat Without a Licence

If you don’t have a licence and still want to enjoy an incredible boat holiday, you can choose the option to book a yacht charter with a skipper with your boat. Each of our 30,000 chartered yachts in our 500 destinations is available with a skipper. The skipper is responsible for sailing and navigation, and additionally takes on the liability of the boat. They’re also knowledgeable on local hotspots and can offer advice on everything from sailing routes to the best local cuisine.

If you’re a curious traveler who wants to take away some sailing skills from their trip, the skippers will give you the opportunity to get involved, including assisting them with raising the sails and dropping anchor. To be ahead of the curve, learn the basic nautical terms before you get on board. If you’re looking to relax, have no fear, they’ll also give you space and privacy to enjoy the tranquillity the sea. It is, after all, your vacation.

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Sailboat Beneteau Cyclades 50.5 (2008)
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Sailboat Bavaria Cruiser 46 (2018)
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Renting a boat from Zizoo with the ''book a skipper'' option.

Top Six Questions About Booking a Skipper With Your Boat

1. Do I need a skipper?

If you have to ask, you probably do. Even if you have some sailing skills, it’s great to have a skipper to take the lead. The skippers don’t just navigate. They are also responsible for the safety of the boat and passengers during the whole trip. It’s a demanding job and they have to know the area well. So, if your goal is to take a relaxing vacation to totally escape, you’ll probably want a skipper to take care of everything boat-related. The skipper can also be your local guide for the area. He or she knows where to anchor and which islands are worth a visit.

2. Who chooses the skipper?

When making your reservation, let us know if you need a skipper or not. If you do, the charters – who have great relationships with local skippers – will suggest a skipper for your booking. If you have any special requests or concerns, feel free to ask the charter after you’ve booked.

Recommended boats

Sailboat Bavaria Cruiser 40 (2013)
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Sailboat Bavaria Cruiser 46 (2015)
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3. Will my skipper speak English?

Usually, your skipper will speak at least some basic English, as well as the local language. It’s their job to be able to communicate with their guests and with the locals alike. If you’re concerned, simply communicate your needs with the charter when booking.

4. Are the skipper fees included with the yacht charter?

No. Skippers work independently from the charters, so their fee is usually paid prior to boarding. Skipper fees can vary depending on a number of factors. However, you can expect to pay around €150 per day. Trust us, the cost is worth it.

5. Where does the skipper sleep?

Most vessels have a small ”crew” cabin where the skipper sleeps. Keep in mind, if you book a boat where one is not included, you must designate one cabin in your boat for your skipper.

6. Am I responsible for feeding the skipper?

Yes, hiring a skipper means considering one extra mouth to feed for the entire on-board duration of your trip. This means when buying food and (non-alcoholic) beverages for consumption on the boat, you’ll have to consider the skipper. You won’t need to pay for food or accommodations while on land.

Renting a boat with Zizoo for your next boat holiday.

Now that you possess all the knowledge about sailing with or without a Zizoo skipper, all you need to do is choose the perfect boat!

From sleek and spacious motorboats to luxurious catamarans and classic sailboats, there are plenty of options to choose from (over 21,000 boats more specifically).

If it’s your first time renting a boat and you’re still looking for more information, check out our first-timers sailing checklist for an entire list of essential sailing consideration. In addition, if you are unsure of where to visit, read through our destination guides for inspiration from around the world.