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Licence or not?

Whether you’re the proud owner of a new Sea-Doo or you’re thinking of buying one, your next thoughts might be along the lines of: do I need a licence or permit? What are the rules and regulations for riding a personal watercraft in the UK?

It’s good to think about and plan these things ahead of time - we’re all about being a responsible rider. And safety comes first… always. Some models, like the Sea-Doo RXT 300, can accelerate to 60mph in just a few seconds so they’re powerful machines (the way we like them), but they need to be in safe hands. 


What are the regulations/legislation to ride a personal watercraft?

There’s no straight answer to this question. At the moment, councils in the UK set and enforce their own code of conduct, meaning that regulations can vary from location to location, so you need to check in advance of launching your Sea-Doo. 

However, there are a few basic rules you’ll need to abide by anywhere you ride:

  • Check the age restriction

  • Get valid insurance (check the amount required)

  • Always keep within the speed limit

  • Keep out of restricted areas

  • Make sure you have the right safety equipment

  • No alcohol or drugs

You might also have to register your personal watercraft with the council and pay the annual or daily fee. What’s more, they may require you have a licence, known as a certificate of proficiency, to launch there. 


Do you need a licence for a Sea-Doo?

It depends on where you plan on riding your Sea-Doo. Some locations in the UK will allow you to ride without a certificate of proficiency, while others will require one. However, it is becoming increasingly common for councils to add this requirement to their code of conduct, so it’s worth bearing in mind. 

By having a licence, you’re on the path to being a responsible rider – knowing how to handle your Sea-Doo with care and caring about the environment around you. 

What’s more, if you plan on taking your PWC abroad, you’ll most likely need this permit. And you can apply for the ICC (International Certificate of Comptence), which will be recognised everywhere you go. 

I want to be a Responsible Rider


What course should you take?

To get your certificate, the RYA Personal Watercraft Proficiency course will be your first port of call. In one day you’ll cover the theory and practice of navigation, reading the weather, launching, handling, recovery and what to do in an emergency. You’ll also look at aftercare, so you can keep your Sea-Doo in top condition. 

Afterwards, you can take courses such as Essential Navigation and Seamanship, which will help you make informed decisions and how to be aware of other vessels, keeping you, your passengers and others out of danger while you’re on the water. 


A final note on licences…

There is currently a bill going through parliament that will make it mandatory for all PWC drivers to have a licence (the certificate of proficiency), so it could be worth investing in ahead of time. 

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