The Category E Skipper’s License is your entryway to the shores of South Africa. Well, more like shores, actually, since you cannot go more than one mile deeper into the sea. This is the entry-level license we highly recommend for every boating enthusiast.

The Category E Skipper’s License in South Africa

The Category E license is one of the highly-sought entry-level licenses in South Africa, even more than the Category R license. Because one of the advantages of category E is that you get to enjoy all the perks of a category R license as well.

However, if you are someone completely new, “fresh out of the oven” new, we would highly recommend going for the Category R license first to learn the ropes. But I digress.

Anyway, the Category E license. This license allows you to sail or drive a Category E vessel as mentioned in SAMSA’s Category E Safety Survey. With this license, you can drive up to 15 nautical miles in the ocean from a designated port of entry or 1 nautical mile from South African shores.

As an entry-level boater, this is more than sufficient to enjoy boating and learn the ropes.

What do I require for a Category E License?

To apply for a Category E license, you need to be age 16 or higher. Apart from that, you will also require a basic medical fitness certificate, and proof of identification.

As far as the certificate of fitness (medical certificate) is concerned, you can produce one simply from your local doctor. This will include your eye exam also. If your vision is good and you are physically fit, then you are good to go!

Apart from that, you will have to fulfil a certain requirement. This includes producing proof of 25-50 hours of sea service. If you apply for a Category E course through an accredited marine institution in South Africa, you will have to have only 25 hours of sea service. But if you are directly applying for the license, then you need proof of at least 50 hours of sea service record supervised under and signed off by a certified skipper.

Sea Service? What does that mean?

Suppose, you are applying for a driving license, you have to learn how to drive a car prior to getting the actual license, right? You may apply similar logic here. If you are applying for Skipper’s license, you have to at least take an effort to familiarise yourself with boating.

This includes planning a short-distance voyage with a trip, helping your crew with watchkeeping, anchoring, ship security and maintenance, and on occasion, driving the boat. This all happens under a certified skipper’s supervision, so do not worry.

Many skippers around the port allow new learners on board (for a fee, or can be for free) who have a skipper’s logbook. Your activities and the duration of your voyage must be logged precisely in this book. At the end of your journey, the skipper will provide you with his or her signature to make it an official experience under your name.

Applying through an institution cuts these hours in half for obvious reasons. Official training provided by certified skippers and the training duration itself adds up experience to your logbook as well.

Examination to obtain the Category E License

Even if you fulfil the requirements, you still have to pass Skipper’s exam to actually obtain the license. If you have studied your syllabus well, this should be a piece of cake for you.

For the Category E license exam, there will be a theory exam and a practical exam with a pinch of random oral questions.

If you are applying through training institutions, you will have a better time cracking t his exam as they cover the syllabus and also provide you with documents or handbooks for studying. Note that there are no official courses for a Category E license. However, SAMSA-accredited institutions have their own courses which are valid.


South Africa is blessed with two most popular oceans in the world, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It would be criminal to miss out on the exciting opportunities South African shores provide. And a Category E Skipper’s license in South Africa provides an excellent entryway to the adventure.

So, if you are interested, kindly contact Skipper’s Training SA today for more information and we will be happy to help you out!

A Basic Guide to Category E Skipper’s License in South Africa