Getting a Skipper License is a must if you want a full boating experience in South Africa. If you are a boat owner, you should consider getting a skipper license ASAP. One question we often get about skipper license is how long it would be valid. So, let’s find out the answer. In this article, we will discuss Skipper License validity in South Africa.

What is the Validity of a Skipper License in South Africa?

You must have a skipper license in South Africa if you are operating a boat of 9 metres or less in length and having an engine larger than 15hp in lagoons, dams, rivers, harbours, and sea. This also includes Jet Skis.

Now, before we understand the validity of the license, understand that there are two types of Skipper License: Interim Skipper License and Permanent Skipper License.

Interim (Temporary) Skipper License

The interim license is issued by your examiner if you pass your skipper exam. The validity for an interim skipper license is only 6 months in South Africa. Within this duration, you will have to obtain a permanent license from SAMSA. Usually, SAMSA will do the procedure for you. You should receive your permanent license within 6 months after obtaining the interim license.

However, it is always good to be on top of things. Rarely, due to circumstances, your permanent license may take time to process or may just never arrive. However, you can easily counter that. First of all, it is a good idea to stay in touch with your examiner to understand the procedure. A good institution will always make sure the procedure is a breeze for you post-examination.

Apart from that, if you think it is taking too long, visiting a SAMSA office or contacting them would help you understand the situation better. In some cases, your examiner may also recommend contacting SAMSA and likely will provide contact details as well.

You can find SAMSA’s contact details on their website. During this procedure, make sure you keep your interim license handy and do not lose it.

Permanent Skipper License

Once you receive your permanent skipper license, take a breather. Because a permanent Skipper License has lifetime validity in South Africa.

With a Skipper License, whether interim or permanent, you can drive any vessel specified within your license’s category. For example, a Category C Skipper License holder can operate Category R, E, and C vessels.

There are a total of 8 Skipper License categories in South Africa.

Category R permits driving a vessel in inland waters, estuaries, lagoons, and harbours. Furthermore, you may take your vessels to sea not far off than 1Nm offshore, but will only be able to drive them in a restricted zone defined by local authorities.

Category E is for the vessels going up to 1Nm offshore. This is your true entry-level license that introduces boating on seawater in South Africa.

Category C allows vessels to go up to 15Nm offshore. This is the most commonly sought license amongst South African boating enthusiasts. This license offers enough freedom for local South African boaters to enjoy the sea and have a leisure boating experience.

Category B is for the vessels going up to 40Nm offshore. If you are looking for more than just 15Nm offshore, this license is for you. This is the final upgrade to the ‘Category Skipper Licenses’ before you progress towards unlimited Skipper Coastal or Offshore licenses.

And finally, Skipper Coastal and Skipper Offshore licenses. Both licenses have two variants: commercial and recreational. These licenses technically allow you unlimited access to the sea if you qualify. These qualifications will require STCW certificates as well.

For complete information on Skipper Licenses, consider reading the Marine Notice 13 of 2011.

What if I lose my Skipper License?

God forbid you are in this situation, but if you are, SAMSA can always re-issue your Skipper license. However, it will cost you about R300-400 and you will have to redo your SAMSA medical. Only then they can re-issue you your Skipper License again.

To do so, you can contact SAMSA and they will tell you to fill out a form to initiate the process.

However, it is always a good idea to make certified copies of your skipper license to avoid being in stinky situations like this one.

Final Words

To sum up, an interim skipper license in South Africa has a validity of 6 months. On the other hand, a permanent skipper license has a lifetime validity.

If you have any doubts regarding a skipper license, we highly recommend you contact SAMSA authorities for precise answers. The purpose of this article was to educate regarding skipper licenses and their validity in South Africa. However, note that we absolutely have no authority over SAMSA’s regulations and decisions regarding skipper licenses.

However, if you do require training to obtain a skipper license, Skipper Training SA can help you with that. Contact us today for more information.