Just like how car drivers need a license to drive, boat drivers need a skipper license to drive a boat. In South Africa, the SAMSA Skipper’s License, commonly known as Skipper Ticket, is the license you require to safely and legally drive a powerboat or a sailboat in South Africa. The type of the license defines what kind of boat a skipper can drive and where they can drive it. In this article, we will discuss what a Skipper License is in South Africa and how to obtain one. This article will only focus on the recreational aspect of the SAMSA Skipper License.

What is the SAMSA Skipper License in South Africa?

A Skipper License is your permit to drive specific boats in specific areas. In South Africa, you will always need a skipper license for boats under 9 metres in length and an engine of 15 HP or above. Where and which boat can you drive depends on SAMSA regulations. This vessel has to be licensed by SAMSA prior to usage unless it is solely used for recreational purposes. Click here for more information.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is the highest South African authority that oversees the regulations surrounding the survey and protection of South African waters. A part of their responsibility is assessing and issuing the SAMSA Skipper Licenses (or Skipper Tickets).

So, how does that work?

How to Obtain a SAMSA Skipper License in South Africa?

Obtaining a skipper license in South Africa is a piece of cake, at least on paper. SAMSA itself does not host the examination for the skipper’s license. Instead, SAMSA-authorised marine institutes like Skipper Training SA conduct the examination on their behalf. Once the results are in and the requirements are met, you will get your SAMSA Skipper License.

Related: Skipper License Sample Exam Questions

But, note that, while there is a skipper exam, there are no official courses by SAMSA. However, a SAMSA-approved training institute will host a 2-3 day training session to help you prepare for the exam. This course is optional if you are confident with your knowledge and abilities.

For example, if you are applying for a Category R (Inland Waters) license, then you should be aware of the respective regulations. Category R license holder can only drive their boats in sheltered waters or only in particular zones in the South African seas. These areas are defined by Authorised Agencies appointed by SAMSA. Furthermore, a Category R license holder shall only drive vessels registered as Category R Vessels.

Types of SAMSA Skipper License in South Africa

When it comes to issuing skipper tickets in South Africa, there are two entities involved: SAMSA and South African Sailing. SAMSA usually focuses on issuing local skipper certificates for smaller vessels (9 metres or less in length). On the other hand, SA Sailing, a sub-division under SAMSA focuses on issuing COCs for vessels larger than 9 metres in length.

SAMSA, or SAMSA-authorised training centres can provide the following Skipper Certificates for vessels less than 9 metres:

  • Day Skipper for Local Waters (Restricted);
  • Skipper for Inland Waters (Restricted);
  • Skipper for Inland Waters (Category R);
  • Day Skipper for Category E vessels;
  • Day skipper for Category C vessels;
  • Day Skipper for Category B vessels;
  • Coastal Skipper for Category B vessels, including day and night operations; and
  • Skipper Offshore.

All skipper licenses for vessels less than 9 metres in length may be used on a recreational or commercial vessel. On the other hand, the Skipper Licenses issued by South African Sailing are for vessels longer than 9 metres. These licenses can only be used recreationally. To convert these skipper licenses to commercial status, SAMSA must examine the candidates to check and establish competency regarding commercial operations.

You can obtain the following recreational skipper licenses for vessels longer than 9 metres in South Africa.

  • Inland Water Skipper;
  • Day Skipper;
  • Local Waters Skipper;
  • Coastal Skipper;
  • Yachtmaster Offshore; and
  • Yachtmaster Ocean.

For more information, visit South African Sailing.

Bottom Line

Obtaining a skipper ticket in South Africa allows you to safely experience the boating culture. South Africa is very strict with maritime laws. Not having a skipper’s ticket or violating rules and regulations can cost you heavily.

If you are looking for a skipper’s license in South Africa, contact us today. Skipper Training SA is a SAMSA-accredited training institute based in Cape Town, South Africa. Our highly skilled professional trainers will ensure the best training standards for you. We also offer other complementary courses that are mandatory to drive a boat in South Africa. Connect with us for more information today!

What is the SAMSA Skipper License? | SAMSA South Africa