Owning a jet ski means you hold the key to an adventurous getaway on South African waters. The speed, the wind in your hair, the thrill of cutting the waves—jet skis offer a perfect adrenaline rush experience. But of course, owning a jet ski does not come without responsibilities. If you are planning to get a jet ski, here’s what you should know, including SAMSA regulations for owning a jet ski in South Africa.

Owning a Jet Ski in South Africa

Jet skis, commonly known as Personal Watercrafts sometimes, are little powerhouses of adventure. These speedy vessels can bring a sense of thrill like no other. If you wish to get a private jet ski in South Africa, there are mainly two options: a second-hand jet ski or a brand-new jet ski. That’s the budget part.

Now your needs. There are one-seater to three-seater jet skis available on the market. And then there are two distinct types: standing jet skis (these will always be one-seater) and sitting jet skis. You would mainly focus on the sitting jet ski. However, if you are a watersports enthusiast, you might want to look into standing options as well.

Sail and Power SA has a great article about jet skis in South Africa.

Valid Jet Ski Licenses in South Africa

To legally drive a Jet Ski in South Africa, you need one of the following licenses.

1. Getting a minimum of Category R skipper’s license

SAMSA’s Category R license also includes jet skis in the category. Hence, a category R license would suffice to enjoy a jet ski experience in South Africa. However, this will not allow you to drive a jet ski in ocean waterbodies.

There are no special licenses for jet skis in South Africa. So, if you have a category E skipper’s license or higher, you can actually drive a jet ski in ocean waters as well.

Don’t know how to obtain a skipper’s license in South Africa? More information is available in our article Skipper’s License Requirements in South Africa.

2. Getting an RYA PWC License

You should aim for the RYA PWC license if you are planning to go abroad for work, for example, deckhand work on a superyacht. The RYA PWC license adds much more value to your resume. The RYA PWC license is also recognised in South Africa and you should have no trouble driving a jet ski here. However, you still have to abide by SAMSA rules to legally and safely drive a jet ski.

One more advantage of having an internationally recognised license is that you can drive these toys anywhere in the world, without having to obtain extra permissions. Hence, this choice is completely yours.

SAMSA General Regulations for Owning a Jet Ski in South Africa

Apart from the license requirements, there are a few SAMSA requirements you have to follow regarding the vessel—the jet ski itself. We will classify these requirements for our better understanding.

a. Non-Commercial (Recreational) Jet Skis

Jet skis used for recreational purposes are usually administered by sporting bodies authorised by SAMSA, such as boat clubs, private institutions etc.

Jet skis usually will have an engine of 15hp or above. It is very rare to see a jet ski under a 15hp engine. By this logic, almost all jet skis will require an approved marking (license plate) and a certificate of fitness. This certificate of fitness has to be renewed annually by authorised sporting bodies. And lastly, only a certified skipper can drive a jet ski.

b. Commercial Jet Skis

Commercial Jet Skis are surveyed and approved directly by SAMSA. In this case, SAMSA will annually survey your jet ski to issue the Local General Safety Certificate. In this situation, SAMSA will also provide approved marking and will confirm whether the jet ski has a certified skipper/operator.

c. Jet Skis and Underage People

If you are under 16, you shall not drive a jet ski unless accompanied by a certified skipper.

d. Jet Ski Categories in South Africa

Jet skis are categorised similarly to powerboat categorisation in South Africa.

So, a jet ski less than 3 metres in length will always be considered a category R vessel—the inland water category. This does not restrict you from taking your Category R jet ski to the sea. However, you shall only drive your jet ski in a designated area, and no further away than 1000m from the shore.

Jet skis greater than 3m in length are categorised according to their usage, into further classifications such as R, E, and D. These jet skis will compulsorily require a certificate of fitness to maintain the standard.

Also, SAMSA requires jet skis to have sufficient buoyancy concerning their categories. Category R vessels should have at least 30% buoyancy, and Category D and E should have 60% buoyancy.

e. Jet skis and safety equipment

Jet skis of category D, E, and R vessels are to carry safety equipment as prescribed on the SAMSA website. They have compiled a list for each category in detail on this webpage.


So, this is what you should know if you are planning to own a jet ski in South Africa. This article features information from the following SAMSA document that sums up all necessary safety guidelines and restrictions for jet skis in South Africa. Should you have any questions regarding the regulations, we highly encourage you to contact relevant authorities.

On the other hand, if you are looking for an RYA PWC Course, Skippers Training SA is here for you. Kindly check our webpage or feel free to give us a call for more information.

Owning a Jet Ski in South Africa? Here’s what you need to know!