How to get a motorboat license in Germany as an Expat

I always wanted to drive a boat and enjoy the open waters, but I never had an opportunity like now. By pure coincidence, I discovered at InnoGames that we have several passionate people about sailing. More than this, Alex, one of my colleagues and currently sailing coach, had already many years in the commercial and military navy and he decided to organize a sailing course for all interested.

Like all good things that are worth doing, this opportunity came also with a challenge. Being an expat in Hamburg, my German language skills are far from being enough to understand these specialized terms and also subtle nuances in the exam questions. However, I did not want to back away and decided to try.

After seeing for the first time German navigational terms and instructions, my hopes quickly diminished. Alex and my other colleagues tried to give the explanation also in English, but to be honest, some specialized terms and vocabulary I did not know even in Romanian, my native language.

Nevertheless, the exam can be done also in English so I decided to move forward. With a lot of support from Alex and my colleagues, that had a lot of patience to answer all my questions and with google translate I was able to navigate through all the new information. I decided to write this article, so that in return, I can help others who are interesting in sailing.

The first thing that is important to know is what kind of license you need. You can have a license for sea/ocean (SportbootfĂĽhrerschein See) and for inland rivers (SportbootfĂĽhrerschein Binnen). Initially, I wanted to do both, but at this school, only the exam for the sea license was in English.


For the initial registration, at the Yachtschule Meridian school, you need:

After bringing all documents and paying the participation fees (circa 200 euros), you will receive the exam date. One week before that you will have also a test drive session, where the trainer will show all maneuvers and you will get for the first time some “hands-on” experience.


The exam has two parts: theory and practice. It takes circa two hours, but you need to wait to get the results. In my case, I was scheduled at 10:00, by 11:30 I completed both parts and around 12, I got the results.

The theory part is composed of 30 multiple choices questions and a charting part with nine tasks. For that, it is required that you have specialized instruments that you can get from here. You can find all 15 sets of questions here, unfortunately only in German.

The practical sailing part is also made from two parts. One is about learning nine types on knots and the second one is about driving the boat and executing 3 or 4 maneuvers. In this part of the exam, it was very nice to see that they were very understanding with non-native speakers and my biggest fear of not pronouncing the commands correctly in German was misguided.

The lucky duck from inside the exam boat

If sailing is one of your dreams and you are away from your home country, don’t let that be an excuse to prevent you from realizing your dreams. Take action and make it happen.