Getting Skipper’s License in South Africa is a joyous moment. It opens opportunities for work and adventure on South African waters. We have talked about different types of Skipper’s Licenses in the past. In this article, we will mainly be talking about the general requirements to obtain a skipper’s license in South Africa.

South African Skipper’s License – An excellent gateway to South African waters

South Africa is blessed with coastlines connected to two of the four main oceans of the world—the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the cold streams of the Atlantic Ocean. This creates all-season opportunities for South African surfers, sea adventurers and seafarers. And also, this phenomenon is one of the main reasons why people from all over the world prefer visiting South Africa for sea sports and holidays.

So, as a South African, we are fairly sure you would not want to miss out on such an opportunity either. And so, the Skipper’s License is your primary way to enter this adventurous ride.

Skipper’s License Requirements in South Africa

To get a skipper’s license in South Africa, you do have to fulfil a few basic requirements. But before we talk about it, we just want to say that if you are a foreigner visiting South Africa and have a valid RYA or any other globally recognised skipping license, you may not need a skipper’s license. So, enjoy your adventurous time in South Africa! However, if you are on a long-term stay in South Africa, you may need a skipper’s license authorised by SAMSA.

SAMSA! South African Maritime Safety Authority is a government body that is responsible to uphold the safety and security of South African marine borders and its environment. If you are to drive a boat on South African waters, you have to follow SAMSA’s rules. Refer to SAMSA’s Marine Notice No. 13 of 2011 for more information. 

You have to fulfil the following requirements for a skipper’s license in South Africa.

  • Minimum age 16 or above*.
  • Valid Identification proof.
  • 2/4 Passport-sized photos.
  • Previous skipper’s certificate (if any).
  • Certificate of medical fitness.
  • Passing the relevant skipper exam.
  • Copy of Skipper’s ID who supervised you and signed you off.

*Candidates between the age of 12 to 16 may be able to apply for a skipper’s license of category R or E, but they shall not handle a boat on their own unless there’s a certified supervisor present onboard.

Not all boats—kayaks, for example—may require a skipper’s license. Regardless, you are to follow the SAMSA rules for the safety of you, the lives around you and the environment.

And now, apart from this, there are further requirements to be fulfilled in each category as well. Let’s take a look!

The logged sea hours

All skipper license categories have a pre-requisite of logging sea service hours. So, if you are new to this world and are serious about it, then we highly recommend you keep a logbook of your activities on the sea. For example, if you actively volunteer to help the crew with sea duties, keep a log of it. Make sure you get signed by the skipper on board as well.

Don’t worry, this is not as difficult as you think. There are many crews that gladly welcome novices on a trip to help them fill out this logbook. Make sure you keep it close all the time.

Also, the minimum sea service hours required are 50. However, if you get into an institute for training, they will be halved by half, which means 25 hours only. Besides that, an institute will help you with understanding all the technicalities to drive a boat safely. Hence, if you are new, this is the safest route you can take to kick-start your skipping journey.

Special: Kickstart your Journey with the Category C license

A Category C license will allow you to drive up to 15 nautical miles deeper into the ocean from a safe port of entry. You can get the required qualifications and requirements by joining an institution that provides special training and all required courses. Upon successfully completing these courses and logging the necessary hours, you can directly take the Category C skipper’s exam and obtain the license upon passing.

Is this a recommended route? We personally have mixed feelings about it. While it definitely kick-starts your adventure, understanding the basics first is definitely better than jumping straight into the action as a newbie. If you ask us, Cat R or Cat E is the way to go!


Getting a skipper’s license is not as difficult as you think it is. It’s just the paperwork and your sincerity in learning the ropes and you should be good to go. For more information, visit this webpage for more information If you are looking for a marine institute to obtain any skipper’s license up to category C, feel free to contact us anytime and we will help you out!

Skipper’s License Requirements in South Africa

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