Do you need a boat license in Dubai?

Usually, yes- with one exception!

Water sports and boating are very popular in Dubai. With plenty of options to choose from, this coastal city attracts all kinds of sea lovers looking for their next adventure. With a variety of yachts, jet-skis, boats and other water sports sharing the sea, there are laws to regulate and enforce strict safety measures. The waters of Dubai are patrolled daily by the FTA (Federal Transport Authority), Coastguards and Dubai Maritime Police and in order to drive your own boat, you are required to obtain a boat licence with one exception: the HERO OdySEA self-drive boats.

Usually, to Captain your own boat you are required to carry a boat licence with you at all times out on the water. If the authorities encounter a vessel with an unlicensed captain on board, the starting fine is AED5000 and increases depending on the type of boat, and the current water and weather conditions. It is also important for Captains to pay attention to the restricted and controlled areas and to make sure not to carry too many passengers on board. In general, there are two types of classifications for licenses: motorized and non-motorized, like sailing boats.

Types of Licences:

  • Powerboat Level 2: for boats under 12m in length (attained with 2 days of theory and practical training)
  • Powerboat Level 8: for boats of up to 24m in length on coastal and inland waters. (motorized only and suitable for people wanting to wakeboard, fish, cruise the coastline)
  • Bareboat Skipper 24m: qualifies for both motorized and non-motorized sailing boats. It requires a range of courses like basic chart reading, advanced first aid etc.

The above licenses are all attainable for private and commercial entities. Commercial licenses require further training in first aid, firefighting, sea survival and social responsibility. These 4 areas are covered in the STCW ’95 training course and is an additional requirement to a valid boat license to attain a commercial boast driving license. It is very important for an individual who wishes to own a boat or get his license to understand where he will be using the boat and what kind of boat he will be driving. In Dubai, only the DMCA (Dubai Maritime City Authority) license is accepted by the authorities but should someone wish to drive the boat in Abu Dhabi or any other Emirate, he will require an FTA (Federal Transport Authority) license.

All the guides at HERO OdySEA are qualified Commercial Powerboat Marine trainers up to 12m. HERO OdySEA is the only self-drive boat tour which does not require a boat licence. This is because the HERO boats are incredibly easy to drive, follow strict safety measures and are supervised by our highly qualified Guides who by authority standards, are able to train Guests to successfully operate the small HERO boats. After a quick safety briefing and training demo, experience what it’s like to Captain your own boat and embark on a thrilling adventure along Dubai’s iconic coastline!