Professional Qualifications


ES-QIN: a European frame of reference for qualified personnel

Since 2015, the CESNI Committee approves standards related to professional qualifications in inland navigation. The standards lay down details of a new competence-based approach for deck crew members.

The main objectives of the standards adopted by CESNI in the field of professional qualifications are to:
• foster labour mobility by setting standards that can be used by the European Union (EU), the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) and other legislators,
• make the profession ever more attractive,
• ensure safe navigation by means of ambitious requirements in terms of knowledge, skills and fitness, and
• enable companies and crews to adapt to technical and logistic innovation.

ES-QIN is available in four languages (French, German, Dutch and English).

Uniform competence requirements pave the way for more labour mobility in Europe. They were developed by the PLATINA project for boatmasters and boatmen, and discussed intensively with social partners and training institutes.

Approved training programmes and examinations with identical content will be recognised on the entire European Union waterways and on the Rhine. Until full implementation in 2022, a great deal of work for international and national regulation bodies, as well as for training institutes that will have to adjust their curricula and training programmes, shall have to be done. Exam commissions will have to change their procedures and prepare for mandatory practical examinations.

CESNI standards are not binding per se. The CCNR, the EU and other international organisations or third countries may wish to apply the standards by integrating them into their respective legal frameworks.

In 2020 both the EU and CCNR will have introduced ES-QIN standards in their legal framework. Member States must also transpose them into national law so that they can be introduced on European waterways in January 2022.

Overview of ES-QIN content

The ES-QIN edition 2019 includes:

1) A first set of standards, the so-called “Prague Standards” adopted in 2018 (see press release) and divided into 4 main parts, as follows:

    • Part I: Standards for competences
  • Operational and management level
  • Sailing on inland waterways with a maritime character, with the aid of radar
  • Passenger navigation experts, liquefied natural gas (LNG) experts
    • Part II: Standards for practical examinations
  • Sailing with the aid of radar
  • Passenger navigation expert
  • Liquefied natural gas expert
  • Boatmaster
  • Additional module on supervision (boatmaster)
    • Part III: Standards for the approval of simulators
  • Technical and functional requirements
  • Administrative procedure
    • Part IV: Standards for medical fitness (general fitness, vision and hearing)

2) A second set of five standards on models, adopted in 2019, included in:

    • Part V: Standards for models of crew-related documents
  • Certificates of qualification (boatmaster, LNG expert, passenger navigation expert)
  • Service record book (SRB) combined with certificates of qualification
  • Practical simulator examination certificate
  • Service record book (SRB)
  • Logbook (LBK)

Standards in details

Standards for competence

In the case of qualifications for deck crew members at operational level (boatmen, able boatmen and helmsmen) and management level (boatmasters) it is the first time that theoretical knowledge and practical skills (competencies) have been consistently defined for all European Union waterways and for the Rhine. Standards for competence also identify in detail the requirements to obtain a specific authorisation when:
• sailing on inland waterways with a maritime character;
• sailing with the aid of radar;
• sailing craft using liquefied natural gas as fuel.

The same applies for passenger navigation experts, who are qualified to take measures in emergency situations on board passenger vessels, and for LNG experts, who have to demonstrate competencies when they are involved in the bunkering procedure of a craft using LNG as fuel.

Standards for practical examinations

Appropriate minimum requirements were defined for future mandatory practical examinations for boatmasters, for the qualification to sail with the aid of radar and passenger navigation experts, as well as for handling LNG. In the case of the practical examination for boatmasters, an additional module was agreed upon for the practical examination of skills at operating level for side-entrants. This module is aimed at applicants who have not undergone any approved training programme at operational level or who have not yet demonstrated in an examination the competence that a boatman is required to demonstrate.

Standards for the approval of simulators

Consistent technical and functional requirements were defined for simulators used for assessment of boatmasters and for the authorisation to navigate with the aid of radar. These requirements support this new form of internationally recognised practical examination.

Standards for medical fitness

For the first time, detailed and consistent medical fitness criteria are introduced. These criteria, in addition to already existing provisions for vision and hearing, also contain guidelines on how permanent or temporary unfitness can be defined. Those criteria are based on the internationally recognised list of inland navigation ailments, subject to examination for each individual case.

Standards for crew-related documents

For boatmasters and experts, the CESNI agreed on both an electronic and a physical format. This electronic format is unprecedented in inland navigation. It simplifies procedures for the boatmaster and for the administration.

The electronic format has an e-seal embedded in a PDF/A document and a 2D barcode serving as a link to the European Crew Database (ECDB). Both the electronic and the physical format are designed in such a way that boatmasters will no longer need several documents to certify their competence as a boatmaster, their competence to sail on stretches with specific risks, or their competence to sail with the help of radar.

Model of certificate of qualification (boatmaster)

For crew members other than boatmasters, certificates of qualification e.g. as a boatman or as an engineer are presented in a single document combining the service record book and the certificates of qualifications. The document also carries a 2D barcode as a link to the European Crew Database.

The models of service record books (one for boatmasters and the second above-mentioned combined model) lay down harmonised instructions for the issuing authorities and for the document characteristics. They also enable the recording of service time on board in accordance with ADN requirements and the navigation time on specific stretches or on large convoys. For all the above-mentioned documents, the CESNI also identified a harmonised way to facilitate the identification of the document by a serial number.

The standards for logbooks provide for a harmonised outer appearance and uniform instructions, by setting up a simple numbering system for functions on board.

Finally, standards for the practical simulator examination certificate provide for a standardised format, certifying that a practical examination for obtaining a certificate of qualification as a boatmaster or for a specific authorisation for sailing with the aid of radar has been passed on a simulator, when the certificate/authorisation is issued elsewhere.

Explanatory notices for the standards in ES-QIN 2019

Explanatory notice for the CESNI standards for models of crew-related documents in the field of inland navigation


Explanatory notices for the standards in ES-QIN 2018

Explanatory notices for the standards for practical examinations


Explanatory notices for the standards for the approval of simulators


Explanatory notices for the standards for competence


Explanatory notices for the standards for medical fitness