Sailing and Boating in Italy

Information on the rules on boat licences and sailing permits, the sea safety recommendations, maritime weather and more...

Did you know...

  • Italy has 7,600 Km of coastline
  • Italy is surrounded by the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, Ionian and Mediterranean seas
  • The largest of its lakes, Lake Garda measures 370 sq Km
  • Apart from the large islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Italy also has many smaller islands including Capri, the Lipari Islands, Ischia, Ponza, the Aeolian Islands, Elba and the Tremiti Islands


Emergency numbers
Carabinieri  Tel: 112
Police, ambulance, fire  Tel: 113
Medical emergencies  Tel: 118
Emergency at sea and on the beaches  Tel: 1530

Coast Guard, safety information   Website

It is important to check weather reports before setting out to sail, go boating or practice any other water sports, as weather conditions can change very rapidly, particularly in the Ligurian sea, where the storms in autumn can be ferocious.

Sailing Areas

The most popular Italian waters include:

  • off Elba Island in Tuscany
  • the Ponza Islands in Latina
  • the Aeolian islands in Sicily
  • the Archipelago della Maddalena between Corsica and Sardinia
  • the waters around Sardinia (there are seven main islands and the coastline is largely untouched)

Inland waters include:

Legislation for Yachts and Boats

The Italian Coast Guard website provides comprehensive information in English on the legislation and obligations and definitions of boats and yachts.

Note: Craft defined as "boats" do not need to bear a flag.

Boat permits

A person must be 18 years and older to qualify for a boating licence.

The boating licence is obligatory to:

  • pilot all boats and yachts, when sailing beyond 6 nautical miles from the coast
  • pilot all craft (motorboats and sail yachts) with a motor over 40.8 HP
  • drive a jet ski

Jet ski regulations

The following rules apply to driving jet skis:

  • the driver must be over 18 years and have a boat licence
  • jet skis are allowed to operate during daylight hours only
  • driver and passenger must wear a life vest or life belt
  • special corridors must be used for launch and return
  • the exhaust tube must be kept beneath the water
  • the maximum speed limit in corridors is 3 knots

Certificate of Competence

International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft (known in the UK as the International Certificate of Competence or ICC) was a European Union resolution (Resolution 40) introduced to impose legislation on powerboat owners and drivers. It proves skills in helmsmanship, navigation and collision avoidance. Italy is a signatory to Resolution 40 and requires an ICC. Those who already have some boating experience skippering British flagged yachts in Italy can follow a two-day course provided by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). The ICC is free for Royal Yachting Association members.

Protected Marine Areas

Italy has 18 protected marine areas of environmental interest.

In these areas it is forbidden to:

  • sail near the coast (minimum of 1,000 to 2,000 metres)
  • fish, pick shellfish, sea plants or seafoods
  • sail motor boats or anchor
  • swim or practice water sports except in limited zones

The marine protected areas include: Cinque Terre, Arcipelago Toscano, Isole Tremiti, Miramare, Arcipelago di La Maddalena, Isole Egadi, Isole di Ustica, Porto Cesareo and Ventatene e Santo Stefano.

Water Sports Associations in Italy

Water skiing:


Canoe and Kayaking:

Further Information