Rules for Dutch inland navigation

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 20 Dec 2022
2 min read
Nederlandse versie

Do you sail vessels on Dutch inland waterways? Then you must comply with the Inland Shipping Act.

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at your municipality, province, or water authority

Do you sail the Dutch inland waterways commercially as a skipper of a pleasure boat, passenger ship, or cargo ship? Then you and your crew must comply with the Dutch Inland Shipping Act.

The Inland Shipping Act (in Dutch) contains requirements for, among others:

  • the reliability, interior, and equipment of a vessel
  • the (crew's) working conditions
  • the skipper's professional competence and physical condition

Various bodies (in Dutch), such as the police and the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat, RWS), check if you keep to the Inland Shipping Act.

Required documents for Dutch inland navigation

Union certificate of qualification as a boatmaster (EU kwalificatiecertificaat schipper)

You must have a Union certificate of qualification as a boatmaster if you sail on inland waterways. The Union certificate of qualification as a boatmaster replaces the (conditional) large licence (Beperkt Groot Vaarbewijs), and the Large Licence (Groot Vaarbewijs) Type B (rivers, canals, and lakes).

Certificate of inspection or inland navigation certificate

In many cases, you need a certificate of inspection or an inland navigation certificate for your vessel (in Dutch). This states that your ship meets all technical requirements. You can request certificates for inland navigation vessels from classification societies or inspection authorities (in Dutch).

Apply for a Rhine declaration

Are you the (co-)owner or operator of an inland vessel? Then you usually need a Rhine declaration. This allows you to sail on almost all inland waters of the EU member states and Switzerland. You can apply for the Rhine declaration to Kiwa Register (in Dutch).

EU certificate of qualification

At least one person within your business must have an EU certificate of qualification for inland shipping. This proof is compulsory for commercial inland shipping. You can apply for an EU certificate of qualification for inland shipping to Kiwa Register (in Dutch). For information on the required documentation contact Kiwa Register.

Tonnage certificate

In some situations, a tonnage certificate is mandatory. You can request a tonnage certificate from ILT (in Dutch).

Inland shipping crew

Do you, as a shipowner or bargeman, have a crew (in Dutch)? The Inland Shipping Act contains rules about the:

  • expertise of the crew
  • composition of the crew
  • rest times of the crew

Service book and logbook

Crews can demonstrate their competence with a service booklet (in Dutch). You must record the working hours of your crew. You can keep track of this in a sailing logbook. All vessels must have a sailing logbook, except ferries.

Special transport exemption for provincial waterways

Do you plan a special transport on a canal or river? Or will you be sailing a boat of unusual dimensions? Then you must apply for an exemption from the province (in Dutch).

Transporting hazardous substances

Do you transport hazardous substances on Dutch inland waterways? Then you must comply with the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN). The ADN is updated every 2 years.

If you transport dangerous goods, you must be in possession of certain documents. Sometimes you have to report to the first IVS station on your route.

Are you unable to meet the requirements for transporting dangerous goods? In some cases, you can apply for an exemption for transport of dangerous goods by inland waterways to the ILT (in Dutch).

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