Similar to the way a drivers license would be needed in order to use a car, a Certificate of Competence that is issued by the European Union will be used in their countries to show the authorities that you know what you’re doing. With its help you are able to travel to other countries of the EU, though it’s not necessarily the same thing as the locally issued licenses.
You will have to go through both a theory and a practical testing of your competence before you can get the ICC. There are certain training centres that are accredited and that can give you the test and assess you. Getting a day skipper sailing certificate should be enough to show that you are competent.
Depending on the type of boat you plan on using, you should go after one of several categories that are available as part of the ICC. The ones that are especially interesting are the ones for personal watercraft, for sailing boats, for inland waters, coastal waters and the two for powerboats (under and over 10m LOA).
Getting an ICC doesn’t mean that you don’t have to comply with the local requirements or those of the boat’s registration location. The registration country is the one that will ask for a competence proof, but the visited country’s requirements have to be observed as well.
You will start by asking to take the test and getting a date when you have to come. You will need to present the details of the payment, the passport, a photograph that is passport sized and after that you have to fill out the application form for the ICC. If you pass the test, you get the ICC certificate by snail mail, at the address you specified.
The testing can be done either onboard the testing centre’s boat or on your own boat. A maximum of two people may be tested during the same session, so if you have a partner that you sail with they can get it at the same time. They’re not tested at the same time though, so you will need a full day for two people since half a day is the standard testing time for one.
Practical tests will take a look at your skills when it comes to how you handle the boat that you’re qualifying for. Different skills will be required usually when it comes to sailing boats as opposed to powerboats. The focus here is on the navigation and crew safety. It’s a good idea to focus a bit on things like pilotage, navigation, buoyage and collision regulations before you start the testing. If you happen to fail the test, you can ask the tester what areas you need to improve on, and they’ll be happy to help with the information.
You can get the iCC either from national or international authorities. IYT (International Yacht Training Worldwide) would be the ones you should get it from if you can, but they’re not the only ones. If you’re in the UK, RYA is the association that will test and award the ICC. Both offer their own courses you can go through, or you can take the test directly if you feel you know what they have to teach.