Law & Licences

Sailing and Boating Licences in Spain

Getting a Licence

The título de recreo is applied for and issued either by a school recognised by the Spanish Dirección General de la Marina Mercante or one of the Autonomous Communities. A medical certificate (certificado médico) is needed and the exam includes a series of safety, navigability and boat basic principles tests. The título de recreo is issued once the applicant has passed a theory and practical exam (it varies in length and difficulty depending on the size of vessel). A good level of Spanish is required to take this exam.

Permits Required

A sailing permit or licence (título de recreo) is not needed to sail following vessels during daylight hours in Spanish waters:

  • Motor boats up to 4 meters in length and with a maximum power of 10 Kw (13 CV)
  • Sailing boats up to 5 metres in length
  • Kayaks, canoes and pedal boats and boats with motors of under 3.5 Kw

All other vessels may only be handled by person holding an appropriate licence. Failure to have a licence may result in the vessel being confiscated or a hefty fine.

Although a Yacht Masters certificate (and translation into Spanish) or an ICC (International Certificate of Competence) are considered sufficient proof of competence to skipper a UK (or some other) flagged vessel, the ICC is not a recognised qualification for Spanish flagged vessels. Anyone resident in Spain must have a Spanish recognised qualification, the título de recreo.

Note: this information applies to recreational (not professional skipper) licences only.

Licences categories

Licences fall into the following categories:

  • Patrón de Navegación Básica (PNB) (Basic Navigation Skipper)
    Licence to skipper a sailing yacht maximum 8 metres in length or a motor boat maximum 6 metres (with a motor appropriate to the size) provided the boats stay within 4 miles of the shore
  • Patrón de Embarcaciones de Recreo (PER) (Recreational Vessel’s Skipper)
    Licence to skipper a motor boat up to 12 metres, within 12 miles of shore
  • Patrón de Yate (Yacht Master)
    Licence to skipper a yacht up to 20 metres within 60 miles of land
  • Capitán de Yate (Yacht Captain)
    No limitations
  • Patrón de Moto Náutica (Motor Boat Skipper)
    • Patrón de Moto Náutica C (licence C to skipper boats under 55 CV)
    • Patrón de Moto Náutica B (licence B to skipper boats between 55 CV and 110 CV)
    • Patrón de Moto Náutica A (licence A to skipper boats from 110 CV)



About the author


Norberto Moreau is publisher and Co-Founder of the group Allied Management Ltd (Hong Kong, London, Valencia). The group has a network with associates in Yachting, Properties and Online Services.