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Driving licence issued on federal waterways

If you want to drive a vehicle on federal inland waterways, you generally need a driving license.

Driving licence on federal waterways

You may only drive a vehicle on federal waterways if you are the holder of a corresponding permit. The authorizations are divided into different patent classes:

  • Boatman's certificate A: for driving all vehicles on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the border of seafaring
  • Boater's certificate B: for driving all vehicles on inland waterways
  • Boatman's certificate C1: for driving vehicles of less than 35 metres in length on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the frontier of seafaring, excluding:
    • authorised passenger ships to carry more than 12 passengers
    • authorised passenger boats to carry more than 12 passengers
    • Pusher and tugboats with more than 73.6 kW (100 hp) propulsion power
  • Boater's certificate C2: for driving vehicles of less than 35 metres in length on inland waterways, excluding:
    • authorised passenger ships to carry more than 12 passengers
    • authorised passenger boats to carry more than 12 passengers
    • Pusher and tugboats with more than 73.6 kW (100 hp) propulsion power
  • Fire boat patent D1: for the driving of fire boats and civil and civil protection vehicles on inland waterways and maritime waterways up to the border of seafaring
  • Fire boat patent D2: for driving fire boats and civil and civil protection vehicles on inland waterways
  • Recreational craft product (patent class E): for driving sports vehicles of a length not exceeding 25 metres on inland waterways
  • Ferry driver's license (patent class F): for driving ferries for a specific ferry station

Certain official vehicles of the Federal Government and the Länder do not require a permit granted by the GDWS to drive company vehicles. These include:

  • Service vehicles of the Bundeswehr, the Federal Customs Administration, the Federal Police, the Riot Police and the Water Protection Police of the Länder with a length of less than 25 meters.
  • Service vehicles of the Civil and Civil Protection, the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration, the Shipping Administration of the State and the Fire Brigade with a length of less than 20 meters.

Rhine Patents

Special regulations apply on the Rhine. You may only drive a vehicle there if you are the holder of a Rhine patent or the holder of a skipper's certificate recognised as equivalent by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine for the type and size of the vehicle in question and for the route to be crossed.

A distinction must be made between:

  • Large patent: to drive all vehicles on inland waterways and maritime waterways to the border of seafaring
  • Small patent: to drive a vehicle with a length of less than 35 meters,
    • intended to carry no more than 12 passengers
    • provided that:
      • is not a tugboat or pusher boat, or
      • no coupled vehicles moving
  • Sports patent: to drive a sports vehicle with a length of less than 25 meters
  • Authority patent: for driving government vehicles and fire boats

Special regulations apply to small vehicles up to a length of 15 meters: These may be driven on the Rhine with a permit granted in accordance with national regulations. In Germany, for example, this is the sports boat driver's license.

In order to obtain a skipper's certificate or Rhine certificate, you must take an examination at the Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping (GDWS).

Further evidence and patents

For vehicles over 15 meters in length, a special route knowledge is also required on certain inland waterways and the Rhine. You will also receive proof of special route knowledge by means of an examination at the GDWS.

A patent can also be granted as a Danube captain's patent. They are then allowed to drive vehicles on the Danube in international traffic, i.e. also outside the scope of the Inland Navigation Certificate Ordinance.

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)

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