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If you sail a ship on Dutch inland waterways, in most cases you need a navigation licence (vaarbewijs). There are four types:
- Small licence (klein vaarbewijs)
- Conditional large licence (beperkt groot vaarbewijs)
- Large licence (groot vaarbewijs)
- Pleasure boats licence (groot plezierbewijs)
The type of licence you require depends on factors such as the length and function of your ship. For a 'small licence', you need to sit an examination with VAMEX Foundation. The 'conditional large licence' and the 'large licence' can be obtained from the Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driving Testing (CBR). Depending on the type of licence, you must satisfy a number of conditions with regard to education and health.
In order to sail a number of specific waters, you need a navigation permit (vaarvergunning). You can obtain a navigation permit from the municipal authorities or the water board for the area in which the body of water is situated. Navigation permits are usually required for the waterways indicated in blue and pale yellow on the water charts (Dutch) published by the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB). These are vulnerable nature conservation areas and waterways.
New rules in 2019
As of 1 Janaury 2019, a navigation licence will be obligatory for floating construction equipment and large pleasure boats (over 20 metres or 100m3). Floating construction equipment and any other ships used for construction are to be subject to the same regulations as inland shipping vessels. Skippers who apply before 1 November 2018 will be able to take advantage of the transition arrangement if their ship poses no apparent danger (geen klaarbijkelijk gevaar, in Dutch).