Which certificate to become a skipper? Capitaine 200, Yachtmaster or Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT

skipper professionnel a la barre d'un voilier captnboat

Which certificate to become a skipper? Capitaine 200, Yachtmaster or Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT

The profession of skipper is demanding and highly regulated. It must meet strict training requirements depending on the type of mission, the flag of the boat…

So which certificate should you choose to become a professional skipper and practice according to the rules?
To give you an idea of the different possibilities, we present you with 3 major command titles that are widespread in Europe. These are the Capitaine 200 (French title), the Yachtmaster (English certificate limited to yachting) and the Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT (Belgian title). 

Advantages and disadvantages, price and training center, we explain everything!

1. Becoming a professional skipper: a regulated profession

A. Skipper, a position of great responsibility

The skipper (or captain) is in charge of driving the boat. He is the “chief on board”, and must ensure order and safety, while carrying out his mission: charter, coaching or boat delivery. 

As a ship’s captain, he has an important responsibility in the good realization of a navigation. He is the one who will decide on the maneuvers, itineraries and behaviors to adopt in order to guarantee the safety of the passengers and the boat. 

From this responsibility and from the skills required to drive a boat, the obligation to justify maritime professional training titles arises. This obligation is necessary to exercise the profession of skipper on a commercial basis, which means for remuneration. 

B. The training obligations of a professional skipper

In order to sell his services as a skipper, the latter must justify the qualifications and trainings required to carry out the mission.

The training requirements depend on several parameters, including the type of boat (motor or sail), the flag and tonnage of the boat, the type of mission (boat delivery, charter or coaching)…

We are going to present you the 3 most common certificates to be a professional skipper on pleasure boats.

2. Capitaine 200, Yachtmaster and Commercial Yachting Master 200 GT, 3 options to become a professional skipper

A. The Capitaine 200

The Capitaine 200 title, issued by the Merchant Navy, is the most common on France.

The Capitaine 200 is a professional navigation title that allows you to sail as a skipper on motorboats up to 200 gross tons, which means medium-sized boats (~24 meters). It is limited to 20 miles from the coast.

With its “Sailing” module, the Capitaine 200 also allows to drive sailing boats without any distance limitation from the coast

In addition to the Capitaine 200, there are some mandatory complementary training courses:

  • A Basic Safety Training (BST)
  • At least a Restricted Operator Certificate (ROC)
  • A Medical Training Certificate (EM1, 2 ,3)
  • A Medical Checkup (ENG1)

➡️ Without these training courses, the Capitaine 200, such as the Capitaine 200 “Sailing”, cannot be effective. 

- Advantages of the Capitaine 200

The Capitaine 200 allows to work commercially on boats waving the French flag. Its limitation of 200 UMS allows to cover the majority of the French fleet and offers to skippers many possibilities of navigation.

In addition, the Capitaine 200 is an STCW certificate, which means that a skipper holding a Capitaine 200 can easily work on foreign flags (especially under flags whose country is a signatory of the STCW Convention: Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia…).
Some countries that are signatories to this Convention can request a visa recognition. This is notably the case of the United Kingdom.

marins professionnels manoeuvrant sur un voilier captnboat

- Disadvantages of the Capitaine 200

The training to obtain this navigation title is quite expensive: between 6 000 to 10 000 €; and requires a significant investment in time (~12 weeks to follow the 5 training modules). Moreover, once the Capitaine 200 title is obtained, it is necessary to justify 12 months of effective navigation (as second in command, seaman or other) to “patent” the title and be able to exercise the function of Captain.

The prerogatives of the Capitaine 200 are limited to motorboats. The “Sailing” module is required to work on a sailboat.

⚠ Please note 1: The Capitaine 200 as well as the additionnal training courses must be renewed globally every 5 years. The revalidation/recycling of these titles has a significant cost: between 150 and 1 000 € depending on the title to renew.

⚠ Please note 2: Merchant Navy certificates do not allow you to work as a sailing instructor. For these types of missions, the French regulations require state diplomas: BPJEPS, BEE, DEJEPS…

- Where to take the training to obtain the Capitaine 200?

There are many schools and training centers approved to take the Capitaine 200 in France. For example, La Macif in Marseille, the Ecole de Formations Maritimes (EFM) in Les Sables d’Olonne, the Centre Européen de Formation Continue Maritime in Concarneau… Simply register for the proposed sessions.

The Capitaine 200 can be financed, in whole or in part, by the PTA (Personal Training Account, CPF in French). 

The Capitaine 200 is delivered by the French Maritime Affairs.

B. The Yachtmaster

The most common title for working internationally is the Yachtmaster. Indeed, the Yachtmaster is an English title of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), recognized by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA). It is valid for all the territories of the British crown, the Red Flag; and thus in many countries of the world. It allows skippers to command pleasure boats up to 24 meters long, without distance limitation with the Ocean extension. It has 3 levels, each with limitations: Coastal (60 Nm), Offshore (150 Nm), and Ocean.

The Yachtmaster must be completed with a “Commercially Endorsed” mention to be used on commercial services and to be professionally recognized internationally.
To obtain this endorsement, the skipper must obtain the Professional Practices and Responsibilities (PPR) certificate, the Basic Safety Training (BST), and the MCA Medical Examination (ENG1).

With a Yachtmaster, seamen can perform charter and boat delivery missions as well as training/coaching missions.

- Advantages of the Yachtmaster:

A large part of the pleasure boats in the world are under British flag or Red Flag (Bermuda, BVIs, Jersey…). Having an English certificate opens the doors to international yachting.

The cost of the training to obtain a Yachtmaster is less expensive than the Capitaine 200 “Sailing”: count between 2 200 and 2 500 €.

The title of Yachtmaster being acquired for life, it allows you to work for private shipowners under the Red Flag without any renewal. However, the additional training courses (BST, ENG1…) must be renewed respectively every 5 and 2 years to renew the Commercial Endorsement which allows international recognition. Overall, this is a big saving compared to the Capitaine 200 certificate.

The Yachtmaster is an exam without any previous training. Although weeks of training are highly recommended, it can be taken very quickly for experienced seamen who wish to become more professional.

The Yachtmaster takes into account the sailing experience gained prior to the exam to allow immediate access to the job of Captain without the need to validate sea time with a lower position (as for the Capitaine 200).

The training to obtain this title is 100% in English, which allows you to acquire and justify a sufficient level of English to maneuver a boat.


B. Disadvantages of the Yachtmaster

The Yachtmaster is not recognized by the French State and some other countries as a command title. It cannot be the subject of a visa recognition as it stands; and therefore cannot be used to work on the flags of these countries.

⚠ Please note 1: The Master 200 GT can easily be obtained for seamen who already hold a Yachtmaster. All that is required is to pass the Master 200 GT oral exam. This is a good way to be authorized to work on French flag with a Yachtmaster.

Please note 2: Visas recognition issued by France are only valid for 5 years, so they must be renewed.

The prerogatives of the Yachtmaster are specific for each title. The Yachtmaster Sailing is required to command a sailboat, while the Yachtmaster Engine is required for a motorboat. 

The Yachtmaster exam is taken completely in English.

- Where to take the training to obtain a Yachtmaster?

To obtain a Yachtmaster, you must pass an exam that includes an assessment of your navigation, maneuvering and safety at sea skills. You must also demonstrate a certain level of English.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is based in the United Kingdom, but it has approved training centers around the world, including France. There are several sailing schools in France that offer Yachtmaster training courses. 

To find an RYA accredited sailing school, you can visit the RYA website which lists all the accredited schools.

C. The Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT

The Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT (C-Yachting 200 GT) is a specific Belgian certificate for vessels up to 200 gross tons. It is a certification title issued by the Belgian Maritime administration that attests to the holder’s ability to command as Captain, navigate safely and manage the crew and passengers of a commercial yacht.

To obtain a Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT, the seaman must first justify a significant navigation experience (or hold a Yachtman…), but also compulsory complementary trainings:

  • A Basic Safety Training (BST)
  • At least a Restricted Operator Certificate (ROC)
  • A Medical Training Certificate (EM1, 2, 3)
  • A Medical Checkup (ENG1)

Without these trainings, the Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT cannot be effective.

The Master Commercial Yachting is an STCW qualification recognized by the signatory countries of the Convention to perform boat delivery, charter and coaching missions. 

It is delivered by the approved training institutes.

- Advantages of the Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT

Most European countries and signatories of the STCW Convention recognize Commercial Yachting as such, and do not require a visa recognition. When a visa is required (as is the case in France and the United Kingdom), it is generally very easy to obtain.

The Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT is also a training course delivered in English and can be obtained in 6 months for the most hurried. The exam takes place in Belgium or France.

The Master Commercial Yachting takes into account the sailing experience made before the training. Thus, following the success of the exam, the certificate allows you to immediately exercise the profession of Captain without the need to validate a sea time with a lower position (as for the Capitaine 200).

The prerogatives of the Master Commercial Yachting are valid for both sailing and motor vessels.

- Disadvantages of the Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT

If the Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT is a patent recognized by France (unlike the Yachtmaster) and the United Kingdom, it must however be the subject of an application for a visa recognition for these 2 countries. The holders of a Commercial Yachting can therefore work under the French and British flags, subject to applying for a visa recognition.

Part of the exam is in English, which can be both a disadvantage for people who are not comfortable in English and an advantage for a profession that is definitely internationally oriented.

Please note: The Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT is an STCW certificate; as such, the mandatory additional training courses (GOC/ROC, BST…) must be renewed every 5 years. The holders must then apply for a renewal of the certificate to the competent authority: The Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport.


- Where to follow the training to obtain a Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT?

In general, the training includes theoretical and practical courses, as well as a certain number of hours of navigation.

The cost of the training will depend on the training organization you choose and the duration of the training. List of Belgian approved training organizations.

Capt’n Boat recommendation: The Yachter

The Yachter is an approved training organization that offers E-learning courses (at home from your computer) that can be adapted to the candidates.
Via this organization, you can obtain your Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT (Capitaine Master 200 GT in their website) in minimum 3 months or more depending on your schedule, your constraints… The courses are concrete and the instructors are demanding and caring.

Throughout the training, candidates are supervised by a professional STCW instructor. Private lessons can be arranged as an option as well as a face-to-face session with a mock exam. The Yachter also trains for the Master Commercial Yachting 500 GT (Capitaine Master 500 GT) and Master 500 GT Unlimited (Capitaine Master 500 GT Unlimited).


The theoretical exam allows you to obtain the title of Officer Of Watch (OOW200). It takes place over 4 days in France or in Belgium. The practical exam is done in one day on a sailing and/or motor vessel in the South of France.

Please note: This training is intended for sailors who already have a training title: offshore license, BACPN, Yachtmaster, Capitaine 200. It is the ideal solution to obtain an additional navigation title and/or start a professional practice.

3. Conclusion

The profession of skipper requires certain skills and qualifications. The Capitaine 200, the Yachtmaster or the Commercial Yachting Master 200 GT allow each to exercise the position of command on board within certain limitations.

If the Yachtmaster is the most internationally recognized certificate, it is not recognized in France and does not allow you to work on boats waving the French flag.

The Capitaine 200, completed with its “Sailing” module, is THE French title, however it is long and expensive to obtain.

The Master Commercial Yachting 200 GT, on the other hand, is recognized in France as well as in the United Kingdom, but requires a visa recognition to be effective in these countries.

So which patent do you opt for?

No matter which patent you choose, on Capt’n Boat we offer missions on all flags (French, English, Italian, Croatian, Greek, Romanian, Polish, US …) and on all types of boats: you will certainly find your hapiness!