If you are looking forward to driving a speedboat in South Africa, you will require a license. Generally, this is called ‘Skipper’s Ticket’ and it works similarly to a driving license. In this article, we will get to know more about how to obtain a speedboat license, license categories, and another complementary course that may prove beneficial.

License for a Speedboat in South Africa.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is a government entity that provides licensing for speedboats. If you are a visiting skipper, you can drive a speedboat on your RYA qualifications (which are accepted and recognised internationally). However, if you are staying long-term in South Africa and wish to operate a speedboat, you will have to convert your license to SAMSA Skippers’ License at some point.

There is a total of 4 categories for a SAMSA Skippers’ License. Each category provides different privileges to drive a powerboat. Let us understand each category in brief.


Speedboat License Categories – SAMSA Skipper’s License Categories.

a. Category R – Inland/Sheltered Waters

If you are new to marine adventures, getting the entry-level Category R or Category E (more about that later) license is a good idea. The R Category is strictly for operating your speedboat on inland waters. You can not drive on sea unless you have a Category E license. Inland water bodies include dams, lagoons, rivers, lakes, and water bodies around harbours.

b. Category E – Day Skipper, 1 Nautical Mile offshore

As mentioned previously, this is also an entry-level license to operate a speedboat in South Africa but on the seas. You may choose to skip the Category R license and directly go for this one. This license will allow you to use your speedboat 1 nautical mile offshore and 15 nautical miles from an approved launch site.

Obtaining this license will also allow you to use your speedboat inland.. Hence, many prefer to go for this one. However, if you go for Category R before E, we believe that you will have better confidence in your knowledge and speedboat operating skills long-term.

c. Category C – Day Skipper, 15 Nautical Miles offshore

If you wish to operate Category C vessels, this is the license you will need. It is mandatory for you to obtain a Category E license first. A Category C license will allow you to operate a Category C speedboat up to 15 nautical miles offshore.

Also, having a category C license means you get all the privileges of previous categories as well.

d. Category B – Day Skipper, 40 Miles Offshore 

This license retains all the privileges from previous categories and allows you to operate Category B speedboats up to 40 miles offshore during the day. Obtaining this license can be challenging and you have to have a lot of experience offshore to even apply for this license.

For more information, please refer to our article ‘Getting a Skipper License in South Africa‘.


RYA Powerboat Courses and Licensing

In addition to SAMSA Skippers License, you may also choose to enroll on RYA Powerboat courses. These courses will greatly contribute to your knowledge and skill as a speedboat skipper. RYA certificates are globally recognised so that is also a plus. Besides, it is also a requirement for those seeking a career in a superyacht crew. So if you are planning a career in superyachting, these courses are for you.

There are four levels to RYA’s Powerboat Course. We will focus on the most popular levels in this article, PB1 and PB2.

a. RYA Powerboat Course – PB1

This is the basic powerboat course by RYA. Many people choose to skip this course (as it is not mandatory) and straight go for the PB2 course. However, if you are completely new to marine adventures, this would be your go-to course. This course will cover all the basics and also make you more confident with further powerboat courses.

b. RYA Powerboat Course – PB2

PB2 is the most-sought RYA Powerboat course. It is also a minimum requirement if you wish to work on a superyacht as a deckhand crew. PB2 course focuses on the basic and intermediate skills of handing a powerboat. Furthermore, it also deals with basic navigation and how to deal with tides.

For complete information on all RYA PB courses, please refer to RYA Powerboat Courses in South Africa


Bottom Line

Getting a speedboat license in South Africa may prove challenging, but the experience is worth it. If you require any help regarding the courses or obtaining the license, please feel free to contact us. Our expert team is at your service and we would be glad to assist you!

We also highly recommend you invest some hours into an SRC VHF Radio Course. You will be operating a radio in necessary situations — especially deep in the ocean.