Become a skipper
Do you dream of being a skipper of your own boat? To fulfill this dream, it is important to have the right boat license. In this blog article you will learn everything you need to know about boat licenses.
When do I need which boat license?
In Germany, there are a variety of different boat licenses. In this article, we would like to give you an overview of the most important boating licenses in Germany and explain when they are mandatory.
Sport boat license-Binnen (SBF-Binnen)
Motorboats and sailboats with less than 15 hp may be operated on most inland waterways without a license.
The Sportbootführerschein-Binnen under motor allows the (non-commercial) navigation of motorboats on inland waters with more than 15 hp propulsion power (5 hp on the Rhine) and a length of up to 20 m (15 m on the Rhine).
The Sportbootführerschein-Binnen under sail is only legally required on some state waters (e.g. in Berlin and Brandenburg) for sailboats with a sail area of more than 6 m2.
In order to be admitted to the examination for the Sportbootführerschein-Binnen (SBF-Binnen under sail), you must be a resident of Germany, be at least 14 years old (SBF-Binnen under sail) or 16 years old (SBF-Binnen under motor) and have sufficient hearing and eyesight as well as physical and mental fitness (certified by a medical certificate).
Sport boat license-See (SBF-See)
No license is required for sailboats in the three-mile zone and the fairways of the twelve-mile zone. However, if your sailboat has an engine with more than 15 hp, you also need the SBF-See.
The SBF-See is a pure motor license, it does not exist like the SBF-Binnen under motor and under sail.
In contrast to the SBF-Binnen, there is no restriction on the hull length of the sport boat with the SBF-See. With the SBF-See you are allowed to drive a sport boat with any length in the three-mile-zone and the fairways of the twelve-mile-zone.
The SBF-See and the SBF-Binnen complement each other: With the SBF-Binnen you are allowed to navigate with your boat on inland waterways (i.e. on most lakes, rivers and canals in Germany); with the SBF-See you are allowed to navigate in the three-mile zone as well as in the fairways of the twelve-mile zone off the German coast.
To be eligible for the SBF-See exam, you must be a resident of Germany, be at least 16 years old, and have adequate hearing and eyesight as well as physical and mental fitness (certified by a medical certificate).
Lake Constance skipper's license (BSP)
The Sportbootführerschein-Binnen permits the navigation of motorized sport boats on most German inland waters. The most important exception is Lake Constance. On this lake, only motorboats with a propulsion power of up to 6 hp and sailboats with a sail area of up to 12 m2 may be operated without a license.
Because many rules on Lake Constance deviate from the respective national navigation regulations of the three riparian states Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the three countries have agreed that a separate boat license is required to navigate Lake Constance: The Bodenseeschifferpatent.
This is required for motorboats with more than 6 hp propulsion power and for sailboats with a sail area of more than 12 m2.
To be eligible for the exam, you must be a resident of Germany, be at least 14 years old (sail) or 18 years old (motor), and have sufficient hearing and eyesight as well as physical and mental fitness (certified by a medical certificate).
Advanced certificates of competency: SKS, SSS, SHS
Outside the three-mile zone and the fairways of the twelve-mile zone, there is no compulsory driving license. This means that on the German coast in the three-mile zone as well as in the fairways of the twelve-mile zone you must be able to show the SBF-See - outside these zones the rules of the KVR apply and you do not need to have a boat license to drive a pleasure boat. As soon as one enters the territorial waters (usually twelve-mile zone) of another riparian state, different rules apply again.
So even if it is allowed to navigate a ship without a license in certain areas, it is advisable to navigate these areas only if you have the necessary skills. If an accident occurs, you cannot be punished for not having a certain license, but you can be punished for going out without the necessary skills (negligence).
Scope of the advanced certificates of competency
The training for the Sport Coastal Navigation License (SKS) qualifies a skipper to navigate (also commercially) a yacht in coastal waters.