Can I upgrade from a R-license to an E-license?
Yes you can. As soon as you have the required sea hours, you can apply to SAMSA for an upgrade.

Marine Notice 13 of 2011 10.7.1 reads “The rationale is that only one basic entry level exists, where practical experience (i.e. sea time) dictates which of the two are issued. Hence, a Skipper Inland Waters can upgrade his certificate to an E by obtaining sea time on category E or higher vessels.” 


 What happens if I fail the exam?
The exam paper is divided in modules for which you must get 50% – 60% per module- depending on the module. Experience has shown that in some cases students might have a problem with one module while flying through the others. Most examiners will invite the student back, revisit the  problem module(s) and let him/she rewrite the module(s). This is normally at no extra costs. The objective of a reliable instructor will always be to ensure that his students understand the material and can write the exam successfully.

Can I do an oral exam instead of writing?
Yes you can. You do find people that clamp up when they have to write an exam or might have a condition like dyslexia, stress etc. and have difficulties in writing the exam. A person, other than the lecturer, can be appointed to conduct the oral exam.

Do I need to study beforehand?
The subjects are covered in detail during the theory session and are revisited during the practical session. We recommended that students have a good night’s rest, do not stress and feel free to ask questions during the sessions. Some academies have a pre-study pack – require about it when registering for a course.

When doing the online course, will it be possible to get support should I need more information on a subject?
Yes. Students have a message system which will put them in direct contact with the lecturer.

What if, after I enrolled for the online course, realize this method of study is not for me?
Your satisfaction is extremely important to us. If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with the course, you can contact us for a refund on the following conditions:

  1.  The cancellation is within 7 days of the enrollment date.
  2. You have not completed more than 2 modules of the course.


How can I ensure that I’m not writing my exam with a dubious examiner?

All SAMSA examiners must be registered with SAMSA and will be issued with an examiner’s number. If you are unsure you can:

  1. Ask the examiner for his/her registration certificate. Valid examiners will not have an issue to give you a copy.
  2. Contact SAMSA (27 (0) 12 366 2600) and ask if the examiner is registered.


I have lost my license – what can I do?

You can contact SAMSA directly and request a copy of your license.  Click here for an office near you. Ask for the person working with pleasure vessel skipper licenses.


I have completed my course, was issued an interim license but never received my permanent license?

The interim/temporary license is valid for 6 months and SAMSA will most of the time issue the permanent license in this period.

The first step is to contact the examiner who signed your interim license. The name and the number should be at the bottom of the page.

If you cannot get hold of the examiner or are not satisfied with the response, you can contact SAMSA directly at their head office in Pretoria on 012 366 2600. Keep your id number ready. Their system has a record of who handed your application in, when the license was issued and who collected it.


Are SAMSA licenses recognized internationally?

South Africa has agreements with countries in Terms of the STCW Convention whereby each other’s certificates are recognized.  Click here for a list of countries.

 Posted by at 3:35 pm

  71 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. Hi, I did my online course in july 2017, is my certificate still valid or would i have to redo the course.
    If so, can I just log in again and do it, then reprint the certificate.


    • Hi Colin
      Your course will still be active and you can print your certificate. We suggest that you do a revision before you write the exam as updates are made on a regular basis as rules and regulations are changed.

  2. What licences does one require for offshore sailing a catamaran – and where can one do such training?

    • Hi Nick
      There is a difference in the way sailors get their qualifications. In South Africa, SA Sailing has the mandate from SAMSA to regulate sailing activities. Click here for the requirements and steps you can take.

  3. I have all my documents completed for upgrading from Category R to Category E, how do I go about upgrading?

    • To upgrade is from R to E is easy.

      All you need is 50 sea hours, signed off by a licensed sea skipper. You can then contact your nearest SAMSA office and request an upgrade.

      The best is to contact them in advance (ask for the person working with pleasure boat skipper licenses) and confirm the documentation you will need. They will supply you with the log form and might ask for new id photos, medical, etc.

      Click here for an office near you.

  4. Hi. I would like to do cat B skippers license. How do I go about it regarding getting the necessary hours as I dont have access to a skipper with a cat B license only cat C. Thanks

    • Hi Joshua – it all depends on your current license status and experience. If you have no license and/or experience it is best to contact a coastal based academy and do your course with them. They will do a practical with you.

  5. Hi
    I am doing my first R skipper now. Did your course and wil now write the exam. But i jave 0 hours logged. If i pass the exam will i be able to use my boat on my own till i can get a skipper to join me for the 25 hours logged

    • Hi Christo
      No, you cannot use your boat on your own after you have written the exam. There is no learner license for boating and you need to get the hours before you write the exam. The only way to do it is to go out with a licensed skipper or do a practical with a registered academy.

  6. once i have category c license, can i drive a vessel greater than 9 meters. and when can i have my license u[graded to bigger boats. thank you in advance.

    • Hi Jack,
      I’m not sure in which area you are. There are only a handful examiners outside SAMSA who can endorse your license for larger than 9 meters. The best is to contact the nearest SAMSA office to you and request the endorsement. It will involve a practical on the vessel.

  7. Hi , i need some advice please. I wrote my skippers exam back in 1998/99 at Ermelo ski boat club. if i recall correctly about 14 guys attended the Friday evening and Saturday morning lectures before sitting for the 4 hour exam. i believe 4 of us passed the exam. i was fortunate to be one who passed on general knowledge (86%),heard afterwards that there were manuals the guys learnt from. I gave the lecturer my , i think green card, with my hours i did with a very competent skipper at St Lucia( Piet Viviers ORCA N1A) with around 200 sea hrs. does this still count or must i re- write the exam again, unfortunately i did not do my practical there after.

    • Hi Andrew,

      I’m not sure if a license was issued? If so, it is still valid and you can contact SAMSA to check with them and get a license in the new format. Click here for an office near you.

      If not, the changes are 99% that you will have to rewrite the exam. Not sure which category you wish to get? Send us a mail and we can send you in the right direction.

  8. Good day, for the on-line course, for which Cat license is it? Can I go directly for the Cat B? Or do I need to work myself up through the ranks?
    Secondly, I have 10 years SA Naval experience, but very outdated, i.e. I left in 1990. Will any of those hours count?


    • Hi Harry
      Currently the online course only covers R and E. We hope to have C up and going soon.
      You can go directly from nothing to B but will have to do it with an academy which has sea access.
      You naval experience can count, depending on the services you performed. Obviously if you were the chef and never had a change to skip any vessel, it will not count.

  9. Hi, I got my skippers in 1994, is this still a valid skippers ticket ?

  10. I have just completed a 9 day course – day skippers course. What category is it for?
    My results were colregs 74% and navigation 51%. This course cost me almost r20.000 and included the short rangs radio course which i passed some months ago.
    I need to know if my marks is a fail?

    • Hi Sandi
      Not sure exactly which course you did. Is sounds like category B. The academy where you have done the course will normally submit your application to SAMSA. They must advise if you have passed. Pass mark all depends on the module. Is normally 50% or 60% except for the VHF course where the minimum pass mark is 80%.

  11. My husband has a Category R certification. He wants to upgrade to Category E, but he does not have the hours (at sea) and no easy way of getting the hours. He however served in the navy and was posted on the Drakensberg, so he was obviously at sea then for a significant amount of time. Would this count?

    • Hi Minette

      It all depends on his experience and in which capacity he served on the Drakensberg. The best will be to contact SAMSA directly. You can click here for a SAMSA office near you.

  12. Greeting, is it possible for you to add a document in the form of a check list that can be used when buying a boat. Something like buyers guideline.

  13. For a Category R license must the student do the 25 hours with a registered skipper before he does the theory and the exam or must he do the exam first?

    • Hi Colin
      We advise our students to have the practical experience before they go for the one day class and exam. For the online students we suggest that they complete the online theory, do the practical as it will give them an opportunity to practice the theory and then write the exam.
      By having the practical experience it can only assist in writing the SAMSA exam successful.

  14. Hi, I have a cat R license and want to further it to cat E. In terms of hours contributing to the required, are they allowed to be performed in another country I.E Mozambique or Australia? They have been done with a SAMSA licensed skipper holding a cat C.

    • Hi Steve,
      All hours on the sea count. The law defines the following on experience for the E-license:

    • Attendance at a SAMSA approved training institution PLUS at least 25 hours logged sea service on vessels of the appropriate length, or
    • 50 hours of logged sea service on vessels of the appropriate length certified by a qualified skipper taking responsibility for tutorship. or
    • 100 hours of logged sea time on vessels of the appropriate length not under the tuition of a certificated skipper.
  • Is there a way to get your skipper’s before 16?

    • Hi Berk
      No. the minimum age is 16. You can however, under the supervision of a licensed skipper skip a vessel. There is no skipper learner license and the only way to get experience is to get it with a licensed skipper.

  • Hi I would like to upgrade my cat C skippers to cat b what do I have to do

    • Hi Ashraf

      You need to contact the nearest SAMSA examiner to you and request the upgrade. The rules/law states that you need the following:

    • Attendance at a SAMSA approved training institution PLUS at least 50 hours logged sea service on Category C or higher vessels of the appropriate length. Normally you would have done this already to get your Cat C license; or
    • 100 hours of logged sea service on Category C or higher vessels of the appropriate length certified by a qualified skipper taking responsibility for tutorship . This is applicable if you have started from scratch (no license), or
    • 200 hours of logged sea time on Category C or higher vessels of the appropriate length. The same as above, you have started from scratch.
    • and

    • The prescribed written and practical examination. You must have written and passed the exams for Categories E and C.
    • From a medical point of view, you need to do an eye test.

  • I lost my skipper license paper.How can I retrieve it.I passed the exams in 1998 .course dun 40 nautical commercial.

    • Hi Hendrik
      You can contact the nearest SAMSA office to you and request a copy. Give them a call beforehand to confirm which documentation (photo’s etc) they might need. Click here for their contact details.

  • Hi
    So I don’t own a yacht yet but Im looking for some info.

    If I want to buy a 30′ to 40′ catamaran and sail across the world, what qualifications/licenses will I need?

    I currently have no sailing related qualifications under my name and Im at a total loss about the process I need to follow.

    • Hi Adriaan

      We do motorized licenses and not sailing courses or licenses. There are excellent sailing academies at our coastal areas. Google sailing courses and you will get a number of them.

  • Hi,
    I qualified for my skipper licence in the 1990’s is it still valid.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Michael

      As the law currently stands a skipper license for small craft does not expire. You can contact SAMSA and request an updated copy in the new format of your license. Click here for their contact details.

  • Hallo
    In order to skip a dive boat: should one first do the on-line course and write the exam and then proceed with the practical side of it? Or can one start off gaining hours and do the theory and exams simultaneously? What is suggested? I am a qualified diver.

    • Hi Reinette,

      In order to get your skipper license you need: experience->know the theory->pass the SAMSA exam.
      Most people get the experience first under the guidance of a licensed skipper and then either attend a one day class or do the online theory and then write the exam.

  • Hello Skipper,
    I live in Lesotho. I want to do Cat R but my problem is gaining hours. I am in the process of registering online. Are there licensed skippers nearby to assist me achieve the required hours?

    • Anyone who can assist?

      It might be worth your while to contact the nearest water authority (at a dam) to you and ask them for any skippers who would like to go out with you.

  • Hi there, I just bought a boat. Can I ride a few times in the dam without a skippers licence. I don’t know anyone with a skippers licence. I read on the sites that you have 25 hours. What does this mean? Thanks in advance

    • Hi Luish

      The law states clearly that you need to get the necessary experience under the supervision of a licensed skipper. If you do not have a skipper to guide you, we recommend that you do a practical course. The instructor will then sign your hours off.

  • Hi

    Can you upgrade from Cat R to Cat C if you have the hours? I assume you would only write an exam with the navigation element?

    • Hi Peter,

      You can upgrade from R to E if you have the necessary hours. You are totally correct, to upgrade to C, except for the hours, you need to write an additional exam which covers 4 more advanced modules and a navigation practical.

  • I have done my inland skipper for Jet Ski about 6 years ago never received my licence and never bother to follow up as the Jet Ski was sold anyway. I now want to do skippers in the ocean do I need to start from scratch? Where can I verify my licence?

    • Hi Lily
      You can check with SAMSA if your license is registered with them. Click here for their contact details.

      If they do not have a record of your license you will have to follow-up with the institution you have done your course with. Failing that you will have to start from scratch.

  • Dear Skipper,

    I want to obtain a C – licence, what is the procedure?
    Do I first have to obtain an E-licence an then upgrade to C or can I directly obtain the C-licence?

    Thank you for your assistence.


    Gawie Steyn

    • Hi Gawie

      There are basically 2 routes you can follow:
      1. Start with the E license
      • You will need 50 hours on the sea, signed off by a licensed sea skipper.
      • Complete the theory for E and write the SAMSA exam.
      • Get 50 more hours on a vessel of category C or higher. This to be signed off by a licensed sea skipper C or higher.
      • Complete the 4 theory modules for category C
      • Write the SAMSA exam for category C

      2. Do a course with a sea based academy and get your C license.
      • In this case you will cover the theory for E and C at the same time.
      • You will do a practical with an instructor and he will sign your hours off.

      People normally follows the course option if:
      1. They need the license in a short space of time.
      2. They do not have a skipper with who they can gain the necessary hours.

      • Hi Skip,

        Does this mean that I first have to do 50 hrs on the sea without a licence, if I do not have a licensed skipper at hand and thereafter complete the exam?

        Can I not first do the exam and then get the 50hrs, because I am not near the coast?

        Thank you.



        • Hi Gawie,

          If you do not wish to attend a 5 – 6 days course at a sea academy you can follow the following route:

          If you have no sea expedience, start with your R license (Inland waters). You can then upgrade to the E-license when you have gained 50 sea hours under the guidance of a sea skipper.
          To upgrade to C you need 50 more hours on minimum a C Category vessel and write an exam on 4 modules.

          How can you get the hours?
          • Friend or family member
          • There are licensed sea skippers who are prepared to cruise with you for the sole pleasure of it, or to share in the catch or for a small fee.
          • Offer your services for free to fishing vessels, on the condition the skipper will show you the ropes, and log the hours

          To get a sea license it is important to have sufficient practical experience – the sea is not something to play with and can cost lives. The only way you can get this level of experience is either to do a full-time course at the sea or gain the hours with an experienced and licensed skipper. There is no other way to get a license.

  • Hi Skipper

    Thanks for the very informative site!

    2 questions….

    1. Is a Yamaha Waveblaster 1 Jetski legal to take in the sea given that it is shorter than 3m?

    2. In order to get your Category R/E skippers, should you log your hours first, then do the course and exam, then apply and do your prac/theory test? Or should you do the course and theory exam first, then log your hours, then do the prac test? Basically do you need to be enrolled in the course and start the process before you get in the water?


    • Hi Adam

      Our pleasure! We welcome suggestions from the boating community on info they would like to get.

      The law is quite clear on vessels, including jet skies, which are less than 3 meters in length. Marine Notice 18 of 2015 reads as follows:


      3.1 PWC’s less than 3m Length
      Section 72A of the Merchant Shipping Act prohibits the use of vessels less than 3m in length at sea except as prescribed by regulation:

      Regulation 8(4) of the NSVR prescribe that no vessel under 3 metres may go to sea except in an area designated for that use by a regulating authority, but in any event not more than 1000 metres offshore.

      Regulation 37(2) of the NSVR further prescribes that personal watercraft or jet-ski’s under 3 metres may only operate in demarcated area’s specifically set aside for that purpose by the regulating authority and in addition must not proceed further than 1000 metres offshore.

      PWC’s under 3 metres length must comply with the above legislation.

      Getting the hours
      For people who need to get their hours we normally suggest one of the following routes :
      1. Do the course through an academy where you will get the hours, theory and exam in one go.
      2 Online route
      a. Complete the online theory course. This will give you knowledge on the laws, regulations, seamanship, safety, etc.
      b. Get your hours under the supervision of a licensed sea skipper.
      c. Book to write the exam with an examiner and get your license.

  • I have missplaced my skippers.. Can i get another copy, who do i cintact and how much

  • And how to I obtain the 25 hours? Should I have my own boat and go out with someone for a few weekends to make up my 25 hours, or do I go out with an instructor for 25 hours on their boat? What do I do for 25 hours – driving all the time? Sorry for asking unskilled questions – but I would like to clarify. Many Thanks

    • Hi Michelle,

      It is like driving a motor vehicle; you cannot have a license before you know how to handle the vessel in a safe and responsible manner. There are 3 ways in which you could get experience:
      1. You have skipped a vessel before the laws changed in 2008.
      2. You have spent time with a licensed skipper on the water and were allowed to skip the vessel under his/her guidance.
      3. You attended a practical session at an approved academy and the instructor signed you off as competent.

      If you have no experience at all, it is to your advantage to do the online course, then do a practical session which will reaffirm the theory and then write the SAMSA exam.

  • How long is a skippers licence valid for? Is it something that has to be renewed every so often years?

    • The license is permanent and no renewal is necessary. As long as you are mentally and physically sound, you can use the license.

  • Hi Skipper i would like to know if i can use a
    •Category E: Vessels only going 1Nm offshore
    in land as well or do i have to do the category R ?

  • As soon as you have the required sea hours, you can apply to SAMSA for an upgrade There is a small fee applicable- In 2014 it was R370. Where did you get this information?

    • Thank you for your question.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “Where did you get this information?”.

      SAMSA Maritime Notice 13 of 2011 states: Skipper – Inland waters
      This basic (academic) level of national certificate certifies that the candidate has demonstrated that he/she has the knowledge necessary to skipper, any category R vessel at any time on any inland waters.

      The syllabus is the same as that of a category E, but the sea-time requirements are different. Hence a person can upgrade his Skipper Inland Waters (unrestricted) to a Day Skipper Category E by producing practical sea-time alone.

      The exterminator should take this into account and if in any doubt the aspirant skipper should be issued a restricted certificate.

  • Can I do my Cat “c” online, My logbook is up-to-date and have more hours and launches then needed.

    • Hi Deon – we are in the process to write the cat C modules. Will be ready in Feb 2016.
      Check under examiners for a ‘C’ examiner near you – I’m sure they will be able to assist you.

  • I would like to purchase a jet ski . Which license do i require and how do i get it?

    • Any person operating a vessel with an engine of 15hp or more must be in possession of a valid skipper’s license. This includes Jet Skis.

      The course is the same – jet skiers must know the rules of the water, regulations and laws – exactly the same as boats.
      The difference is the hours logged. If a person has only jet ski hours he/she will have a restriction on the license, stating that they can operate jet skis only. We normally suggest to our students, where possible, to get hours and experience on a boat and apply for the no restriction license. Alternative, you can upgrade the license as soon as you have 25 hours on a boat, signed off by a licensed skipper. No need to do the course again.

      To get a license you need to follow the same route – either a full-time class near you or do the online course and write the exam at a time and date that suits you.

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