Jet-Ski in Croatia: Do You Need a License?

Total Croatia News

Planning on sailing or holidaying in Croatia and want to get an adrenaline-fix of water-sports? Make sure you familiarise yourselves with the rules and regulations first.

When I worked on a luxury yacht, we had a jet ski on board, which lead our clients to believe everyone could use it – this is not the case and caused many frustrations. Same goes for jet-ski rental, you cannot rent a car without a license, so it only makes sense that you cannot rent a jet-ski without a license.

A jet-ski is classified as a ‘Personal Watercraft’ (PWC) and as such, it is subject to the same boating laws as a small boat. A PWC refers to a small vessel that the operator can either, sit, stand or kneel on, which is powered by inboard jet propulsion.

It should come as no surprise to people that you would need a license to drive a jet ski. These small (but mighty) vessels share the water with other boats and swimmers, so operators need to be aware of safety and basic maritime regulations, just like anyone else on the waterways.

There isn’t a separate license for a jet ski; it is included in the boat safety course of your basic boating certificate and license. The requirements for a boat license vary slightly from country to country, mostly in regards to age; however, a license is required. The only exception to this rule is for jet-ski excursions, passengers need to be 18+, but a boat license may not necessarily be required. Check all information with provider thoroughly before signing up.

Regulations to be aware of:

  • Boat license is required
  • Lifejacket/buoyancy aid is required
  • PWC are not allowed to prohibited in National Parks: i.e. National Parks – Mljet, Kornati, Lastovo, Brijuni…
  • Within 300-metres of the shore, idle speed must be maintained
  • If you are entering Croatian waters with your own jet ski (PWC), you will need to acquire a ‘Vignetta’ (Croatian Permit), which costs around €50 for the permit and €50 for local insurance. (For all information visit the official Ministry of the Sea here).

Maritime authorities are becoming stricter with monitoring this. When guests used our jet ski from the yacht, they were stopped and checked by local authorities around 70% of the time. If you cannot produce the correct documentation, you will be subject to hefty fines. Some captains or Rentals may allow you to drive the jet ski without a license, but be aware that you will be personally fined as the operator.

Every year there are hundreds of accidents at sea, including with jet-skis. Just two days ago two German citizens were in a collision on jet-skis, one suffered a broken pelvic bone, the other a broken leg. They are now spending their holiday in a hospital in Sibenik.

Last year we had a family of water-enthusiasts onboard, at one stage there was someone on the jet ski, another behind the tender on the water-skis and others using the SUP and Kayak; guess which vessel causes drama in this situation? Yip. The jet-ski. The guy driving, thought it would be fun to get as close to the girl on water-skis as he could, but he didn’t read which way she was going – and she had nowhere to go… boom. Thankfully he wasn’t going too fast and there was no significant damage done, but it could have gone very wrong.

Common sense

The longer I work in tourism, the more I realise that common sense is not actually so common. Even if you have a license and are aware of these regulations, there are still things to bear in mind, but it comes down to safety and awareness.

  • If you are out on the open sea, pay attention to other yachts and jet skis around you.
  • It doesn’t explicitly say – but do not drive at speeds close to other yachts, chances are you will upset their captain or crew, and will be reported
  • Even if more than 300-metres from shore, pay close attention to swimmers, or divers’ balloons.
  • Survey your surroundings at low-speed before going heavy on the throttle; shallow rocks and shoals are not uncommon along the coast
  • Don’t drive too close to others boats or anyone involved in any other water-sports – i.e. kite surfers, wind surfers, etc. You don’t know their intentions, and they don’t know yours. Give respect and a wide berth to all others on the waterways.

Be considerate

Everyone is on the water for different reasons. Some come to get active and enjoy, maybe your idea of fun is speeding along the coast on a jet ski, someone else’s idea may be to enjoy a peaceful bay on anchor. Be considerate. It is a big sea, plenty of room for everyone to enjoy AND be safe.

Source information: Super Yacht PWC and Ministry of the Sea

Love everything to do with the water, visit Total Croatia Sailing here.


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