Ocean-going yachts and small boats

Yacht (Year of built: 1982) © Jachtinhaber gratis zur Verfügung

Swiss ocean-going yachts are intended uniquely for pleasure or sport. The Swiss Office of Maritime Navigation (SMNO) is responsible for their registration. It also issues confirmation of flag registration to small boats sailing on foreign inland waterways and coastal waters.

The SMNO is responsible for registering ocean-going yachts and small boats sailing under the Swiss flag.

Ocean-going yachts

The SMNO checks that legal and technical conditions for registration are fulfilled and issues the certificate of flag registration to applicants. Swiss citizens and associations aiming to encourage nautical sports and sailing for pleasure are entitled to register. Currently, some 1,500 ocean-going yachts sail under the Swiss flag. These yachts are strictly for sport and pleasure sailing; commercial transport of passengers and goods are not allowed.

The SMNO supervises the examining body authorised to issue and license the Swiss Certificate for Capacity (Swiss Certificate for Maritime Navigation). Recognised internationally, the Swiss Certificate has been issued since 2007 by the authorised examining body in a credit-card format.

Small boats

The SMNO issues confirmations of flag registration for small boats sailing on foreign internal waterways and coastal waters of states that do not recognise the Swiss cantonal licence. These boats are not subject to the same technical requirements as yachts. Boats which may be registered in the Swiss Yacht Register are not registered as small boats.

Issuing certificates of flag registration for yachts

(corresponds to EC design categories A or B)

The certificate of flag registration is valid for sailing at sea and in foreign waters. It is issued on the basis of Art. 5 of the Ordinance of 15 March 1971 on Swiss Sea-Going Yachts (Ordinance on Yachts, RS 747.321.7; in German, French and Italian only).

To be considered sea-worthy, yachts are generally expected to have living quarters, an automatic bilge pump in the cockpit and to be equipped in compliance with the guidelines of the Swiss Maritime Navigation Office (SMNO).

The certificate of flag registration is required for sailing at sea under the Swiss flag. Breaches of the regulations are punishable under Art. 143 of the Federal Act on Navigation under the Swiss Flag (RS 747.30).

In particular, regulations concerning yachts must be respected: Swiss-registered yachts may not be used for commercial purposes (Art. 17) and are allowed only in exceptional circumstances to be used by a third party (Art. 18).

Issuing confirmation of flag registration for small boats

(corresponds to the design category C of the EC)

Confirmation of flag registration is valid for foreign coastal waters and inland waterways. It is issued according to Art. 12a of the Ordinance of 15 March 1971 concerning Swiss Sea-Going Yachts.

No safety test is required for boats that are listed in a cantonal register and are able to present their original sailing licences. All other boats must submit a safety certificate confirming that their current condition and equipment satisfy requirements for sailing in coastal waters. This certificate must be in French, German, Italian or English.