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Inland navigation vessels

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency

If you navigate your pleasure craft, passenger or freight ship on Dutch inland waterways, you must comply with the Inland Navigation Act (Binnenvaartwet). The Act includes requirements regarding:

  • a vessel's condition, design and equipment
  • working conditions
  • the physical condition and professional competence of the captain

Your vessel will need an inspection certificate (certificaat van onderzoek) in most cases. This certificate is proof that the vessel is in a sound technical condition. You will also need a navigation licence (vaarbewijs). On Dutch waters traffic rules apply, such as rules on lighting, priority and sound signals, laid down in the Inland navigation police regulations (BPR).

Registering working hours

Shipowners or captains that hire crew, must register the crew's working hours.

Rhine navigation certificate

As co-owner or operator of an inland navigation vessel, you are likely to need a Rhine Navigation Certificate. This certificate allows you to navigate almost all of Europe's waterways, including those of Switzerland. Please apply for the certificate from Kiwa RegisterExternal link.

Exemption special transport on provincial waterways

If you want to use a canal or river for special transport purposes, or you want to use a ship with non-standard dimensions, you need to apply for an exemption from the provincial authorities.

New rules in 2019

As of 1 Janaury 2019, a navigation licence is obligatory for floating construction equipment and large pleasure boats. Floating construction equipment and any other ships used for construction are to be subject to the same regulations as inland shipping vessels.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency