How can I work in France with a RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate?

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How can I work in France with a RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate?

voilier - Captn Boat - Travailler en France avec un Yachtmaster

France does not recognize all foreign certificates and qualifications, or doesn’t allow certain foreign titles to sail. This is particularly true for the Yachtmaster.

Working in France and under the French flag with a Yachtmaster is a question we are frequently asked by professional skippers holding this title.

To answer this question, Capt’n Boat reviews the various options available to skippers with a Yachtmaster Offshore certificate.

1. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore status

The Yachtmaster is a British certificate issued by the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), with courses and exams in English. It allows you to sail with no distance limit from the coast.

However, RYA certificates, which include the Yachtmaster degree, are not recognized by French Maritime Affairs, and do not allow you to work on boats flying the French flag.

This also applies if these certificates are STCW Endorsed, since the only STCW correspondence for Yachtmasters is the CFBS (Certificat de Formation de Base à la Sécurité), the equivalent of Basic Safety Training. As a result, this is not sufficient for the French authorities, who require a radio operator’s certificate, a medical aptitude certificate, as well as certificates allowing the exercise of functions at operational or management level.

2. Solutions to work on a French flag with a Yachtmaster

So, if you want to work on French-flagged boats with your Yachtmaster, you’ll have to choose between one of the following solutions:

1. Get the french certificate of “Capitaine 200”

2. Apply for a validation of acquired experience (VAE) after a minimum of 24 months as captain or chief mate under a foreign flag. The Yachtmaster allows you to work under a UK flag without STCW endorsement.

3. Use the gateway that exists between the Yachtmaster and the Master 200 GT MCA. The Master 200 GT is recognized as an STCW diploma by France. You can then apply to the French authorities for a recognition visa.

Please note: obtaining a recognition visa is not sufficient for a sailor holding a foreign qualification to take command of a French vessel. For this specific function, a national jury will assess the sailor if he or she is not of French nationality. This national jury, chaired in its “commerce” section by the DIRM, will examine the officer’s knowledge of the French language and national maritime regulations.

A. Declaring social security contributions

What’s more, you need to be sure that your social security contributions are in order.

French regulations require skippers to be affiliated to the ENIM. This is the social security scheme for seamen.

All seamen sailing under a French flag are obliged to join the ENIM (social security scheme for seamen and seafarers), in accordance with article L5551-1 of the French Transport Code


Portal of ENIM, the French social security scheme for seafarers.

For French flags registered in the RIF (French International Register) :

  • Skippers who are residents of a Member State of the European Union, a State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation, benefit from social security coverage under the conditions laid down in the European regulations on the coordination of social security systems applicable to them. In the case of a French boat, flag law applies, and ENIM registration is compulsory.

Certain derogations are possible in cases of secondment or residence in the same country as the employer.

  • Skippers who are nationals of a country linked to France by a bilateral social security agreement are also subject to the law of the boat’s flag (if French, ENIM affiliation), unless otherwise stipulated.

  • Skippers not resident in France, who are not nationals of a member state of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation, nor nationals of a state linked to France by a bilateral social security agreement, are subject to the law chosen by the parties, with the minimum of social protection: “Skippers resident outside FRANCE and not covered by the provisions of articles L.5631.1 and L.5631.2 are insured against the risks mentioned in article L.5631-4. Their social protection is governed by the law chosen by the parties. Collective agreements applicable to non-residents may provide for more favorable provisions. Social protection may not be less favorable than that resulting from International Labor Organization conventions applicable to seafarers and ratified by France. The employer shall contribute at least 50% of the cost of such protection”. Article L. 5631-3, Book VI of the French Transport Code.

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3. Yachtmaster and foreign flag

Another solution envisaged by some skippers with a Yachtmaster degree would be to work in France under a foreign flag.

This is only possible if the boat is commercially registered under a foreign flag.

  • Case of a skipper holding a Yachtmaster (French or foreign): He can work in France on a boat flying a foreign flag, if the regulations of the flag country recognize the Yachtmaster and if the boat is registered commercially.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!