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Evidence of Competence Abroad

Why do I need it?

The requirement for evidence of competence varies from country to country. Sometimes it is required for coastal waters, sometimes for inland waters, sometimes for neither and sometimes for both.

The law of the sea is frequently misunderstood, with many boaters believing that they can go wherever they wish abiding only by the rules of their Flag State (country of registration).

When you visit another country, in most circumstances (as detailed in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) you can be required to comply with the maritime legislation of the visited country (the Coastal State) in addition to that of your vessel’s Flag State.

The most common requirement is evidence of competence where this is mandatory for a local boat. Whether this is stipulated in the national legislation, required under local rules or the local port authority making unilateral decisions is often not clear.

Experiences differ greatly. Inconsistency from province to province and port to port means many boaters are never asked to provide evidence of their competence abroad. However, those that are asked and do not have a suitable document can find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.

Querying the validity of such requests can make matters worse and to challenge the legality of a fine or other penalty would, in most cases, mean going to court abroad.

So what should you have?

Where evidence of competence is required by the country of registration (the Flag State) pleasure boaters must comply with those regulations. Additionally, when in the waters of another country you must also comply with any requirements of the visited country (the Coastal State). This is where an ICC can prove to be useful.

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