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Which boat license for RIBs ?  

Which boat license for RIBs ?  

Depending on the environment in which you want to use your RIB, you will have to choose which boat license to get.

Indeed, just like for car licenses, there are distinctions between boat licenses in France. How to choose the right one for your RIB ? Orca Retail explains it to you!


Do I need a boating license to drive a RIB?

Not necessarily! Indeed, it is possible to navigate in France on any type of boat without a license, as long as it is less than 6 HP (4.5 KW), which allows to reach speeds of about 12 Km/h. However, as you can see, this is only possible for the smallest inflatable boats and you will soon need a license if you want to sail with a standard RIB. This also means for example that a license is required for jet-ski owners.

Note that the fine for driving a motorboat of more than 6 HP without a license is €1,500.


What are the different types of permits for RIB boats?

Coastal permit

coastal permit

What is a coastal permit?

As the name implies, the coastal license gives you the right to sail close to land, but to what extent exactly?

The distance you can navigate with a coastal license is 6 nautical miles, or 11.11 kilometers. This allows for example to go to small islands near the coast, such as to reach a beautiful island at sea from Quiberon. But it is too short if you want to go to the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey) from the French coast. It is therefore important to study the geography of the area in which you want to sail with your RIB in order to choose the right type of license! Please note that this distance applies whether it is on a closed body of water, a lake or at sea, but not on canals and rivers, but we will come back to this.

The coastal license has the following advantages:

  • Accessible from 16 years old
  • Day and night navigation
  • Navigation on boats of all sizes and powers

How much does a coastal license cost?

The price of a coastal license is approximately 350 euros, plus 108 euros in tax stamps.

What are the pre-requisites for the coastal license?

To apply for a coastal license, you must be declared fit by a doctor, join an approved training center, and then complete the cerfa form n° 14681 of registration request. You will also need to have a passport photo and a photocopy of your identity card.

What does the coastal license exam consist of?

The exam is done in two stages. First, you will have to pass the theory exam. This one is composed of a questionnaire of 30 questions. A maximum of 5 errors is tolerated to obtain the coastal license. The results of this exam are valid for 18 months.

Then comes the technical examination, in a situation, lasting a minimum of 3h30. The examiner will examine the following points in real conditions

  • Rescue of a man in the sea
  • Maneuvering the boat, inside or outside the port, in forward or reverse (start, follow a trajectory, stop, anchor ...)
  • Knowledge of the buoys and navigation signals
  • Use of on-board communication means


Offshore license

offshore permit

What is an offshore license?

It's very simple! An offshore license allows you to navigate on the high seas, and therefore, unlike the coastal license, to go beyond 6 nautical miles from the coast.

The offshore license is actually an extension of the coastal license: indeed, the latter is required to pass the offshore license exam. Just like the coastal license, you will be able to navigate day and night, on all sizes of boats, of all powers. The offshore license is also available from the age of 16.

What are the prerequisites for the offshore license?

To apply for an offshore license, you must be declared fit by a doctor, join an approved training center, and then complete the cerfa form n° 14681 for registration. You will also need to have a passport photo and a photocopy of your identity card.

How much does an offshore license cost?  

The price of an offshore license alone (without lessons) is approximately 300 euros, plus 38 euros in tax stamps. You should also consider purchasing the essential equipment needed to pass your license: compass, nautical chart, ruler, pencil and eraser.

What does the offshore license exam consist of?

The huge advantage of the offshore license, and the reason why it is less expensive than the coastal license, is that it does not include a technical test!

Indeed, it seems to be taken for granted that you already know how to maneuver your boat after obtaining the coastal license. This is why the offshore license only includes a theoretical test, during which the following points will be evaluated

  • Marine chart reading
  • Preparation of the navigation, according to winds, currents, etc.
  • Headlight recognition
  • Recognition of navigation equipment
  • Tide and weather knowledge
  • Security


Inland waterways boating license

inland water permit

What is a Pleasure Craft License?

Or rather, what is considered as "inland waters"? In France, inland waters consist of canals, rivers and lakes.

This license allows you to navigate in semi-rigid boats in fresh water with models of more than 6 horses and not exceeding 20 meters in length, which is well above the norm for inflatable boats. For boats longer than 20 meters, you will have to take an extension, the inland waterways boating license, available from 18 years old. Given the nature of RIBs and their limited size, we will not deal with this particular license in this article.

The inland waterways boating license is independent of the coastal and offshore licenses. If you want to navigate on the sea as well as inland, you will have to obtain several permits.

What are the pre-requisites for the inland waterways boating license?

In order to obtain an inland waterways boating license, you must be declared fit by a doctor, join an approved training center, and then complete the cerfa form n° 14681 of registration request. You will also need to have a passport photo and a photocopy of your identity card.

How much does an inland waterway boating license cost?  

For this license, you will have to follow a training course at a cost of about 450 euros, to which you will have to add 108 € of fiscal stamps. However, if you already have a coastal or offshore license, not only is the training no longer mandatory, but the cost of the tax stamp is reduced to 38 €!

It is therefore very interesting to take your inland waterways boating license once you have your sea permits!

What does the inland waterways boating license exam consist of?

Since the Pleasure Craft License can be taken without the granting of other boat licenses, it provides for a theory test AND a technical test.

The theory test is again a multiple-choice test with 30 seconds per answer.

Concerning the technical exam, its particularity is that it takes place throughout your training. Your skills are progressively evaluated by your instructor. The points to be studied are the same as for the other licenses: environment, navigation rules, signals (sound, lights, beacons...) equipment, engine, safety rules.


Sailing in international waters in a RIB: French boating licenses abroad

You now have the right permits to sail wherever you like in France. However, if you want to sail abroad, you'll need to take additional steps. You can't go to Italy, Spain, England or anywhere else from France to use your Zodiac without special authorization.

To go to international waters, you will have to obtain the CRR, Restricted Radio Certificate. This certificate will be systematically requested abroad to use your boat or to rent one.

The RRC exam is similar to the driver's license code. It is a multiple-choice test that covers the program in the maritime preparation manual. The Agence Nationale des Fréquences organizes and administers the exams.

Find more information on the subject on the ANF website.


Learn more about the boating license

  • Just like your car license, your boat license can be withdrawn or suspended (drunk driving, speeding, failure to comply with regulations, etc.). If your license is withdrawn, you will have to wait 3 years to retake it! No way to joke with that.
  • To prepare for the various boat license exams, you can study the Vagnon and/or Rousseau codes. These offer a Code part and a Test part to train you.


You know everything about which boat license to choose for your RIB! Good luck to you !




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Read more about the world of RIBs :


Requirements: Inflatable boat license, Zodiac boat license, RIB boat license.

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