Passenger ship operating permit

In the future, commercial harbour passenger ships carrying out passenger transport in the harbour waters of Amsterdam will be required to have an operating permit if this transport is carried out with motorised passenger ships.

Why an operating permit?

The number of ships using the harbour waters of Amsterdam has increased over the years. This increase is mainly due to intensified commercial shipping and passenger shipping. The increase has consequences for the safety and efficiency of shipping traffic on the Afgesloten IJ and for the transit of ships through these waters.

In addition to this, the nuisance to local residents has increased, in particular the nuisance caused by party boats.

Probably in the course of 2021, commercial harbour passenger ships carrying out passenger transport in the harbour waters of Amsterdam will be required to have an operating permit if this transport is carried out with motorised passenger ships. This way, we will be able to effectively manage shipping movements in port waters, ensuring the safe and smooth transport of passengers.

What will change?

To regulate the number of shipping movements, the Mayor and Aldermen of the Municipality of Amsterdam intend to introduce an operating permit system for the harbour waters. The statutory base for this is the Verordening op het Binnenwater 2010 (Municipal Bye-laws for the Inland Waterways 2010).

Please note that in the future, due to this policy review, an operating permit may be required for the transport of passengers on the harbour waters.

On the basis of the Municipal Bye-laws for the Inland Waterways 2010, it is prohibited to transport goods or passengers with a commercial vessel for payment or another remuneration without a permit issued by the Mayor and Aldermen. This permit is also called 'operating permit'.

The Municipal Bye-laws for the Inland Waterways 2010 contains the regulatory framework for Amsterdam's waters. It also contains general rules for sailing on port water and determines in which cases, for example, a permit is required for an activity.

The Bye-laws leave it up to the Municipal Executive for a number of specifically defined subjects to further detail these frameworks or to lay down additional rules. For the port these rules have been elaborated in the 'Regeling op de haven 2020'.

Who will be obliged to have a permit?

The point of departure is that only motorised passenger vessels that operate a commercial voyage to Amsterdam in the Port Water will be subject to licensing. Motorised passenger vessels that are subject to a license obligation include:

  • Vessels for day trips. If sailing trips in this category involve mooring in Amsterdam, an operating licence will be required.
  • Scheduled services and water taxis. When offering scheduled services and water taxis (sailing between fixed stops according to a fixed pattern or in a fixed pattern according to a fixed route) there is mooring in Amsterdam and an operating license is required.
  • Motorised commercial vessels. All motorised commercial vessels must have a licence if passenger transport is involved and they are moored in Amsterdam. Unless it concerns an exempted category.

Which ships will not be obliged to have a permit?

The authorisation requirement does not apply in the case of:

  • Nautical service providers
  • Vessels of (co-) competent authority
  • Hotel ship/River cruise
  • Motor chartering: no operating licence is required for motor chartering, provided that the stay (overnight) of passengers is part of the activity.
  • Sailing passenger vessels: no operating license is required for the sailing charter trip provided there is a cruise (the stay/overnight in Amsterdam is part of the sailing trip).
  • Freight sailing
  • Transit: vessels that only use the Amsterdam port water for navigation and do not moor in Amsterdam.
  • Pleasure boating: for pleasure boating, mooring is only permitted if there are no more than 13 people on board.
  • Ships for day trips during events: such as SAIL, Canal Parade and King's Day.

Update

The policy for the Port Water is linked to the policy for the Inland Water on a number of points. As a result, it is important to optimally link the two permit systems.

Although since 2017 the Harbour Master has been drawing up an exploitation policy for Port Water, this process has been temporarily halted in anticipation of the revision of the permit system for Inland Water. After it became clear what the final policy for Inland Water will look like, the Harbour Master resumed the process. The policy for Port Water is attuned to the policy for Inland Water.

Please note: having a system of permits for passenger shipping on inland waterways is not a condition for the introduction of a system of permits on Port Water.

Our expectation is that a policy for the Port Water will be adopted in the course of 2021.

We believe it is important that citizens and entrepreneurs will once again be given the opportunity to respond to the amended policy proposal and the Port Regulations before the policy is adopted. For this reason, the opportunity for participation will once again be offered.

This participation is limited to the points that deviate from the policy proposal of 2017, which was already submitted for public participation at the time. The possibility and period for this will be communicated to interested parties in a timely manner.

Application for a permit

Duration of permit

The application procedure has not yet started. It is possible to apply for a permit after the decision has been taken and well before the permit obligation takes effect.

Costs

The (legal) costs associated with applying for the Port Water operating permit are equal to the (legal) costs for the Inland Water operating permit. These are determined annually by the municipality of Amsterdam in the Fees Bye-laws. The Port Water operating permit is issued for an indefinite period of time.

Procedure for applying for a Port Water operating permit

Are you required to have a permit? The application for and issue of a permit will be handled by Havenbedrijf Amsterdam NV. Once the final regulation has been adopted by the Municipal Executive, more will be known about the exact procedure for applying for a Port Water operating permit.

Port water versus inland water

An operating licence is also required in certain cases for sailing on inland waterways. These permits are issued by the Municipality of Amsterdam. See their website for the conditions that apply to operating licenses for Binnenwater. Do you sail on both port water and inland water? Then apply for your permit with the Municipality of Amsterdam.

Frequently asked questions about the operating permit

When do I need to apply for a permit?

When do I have to apply for an operating permit for my ship in the category "passenger ship"?

From a legal point of view, a passenger ship is a ship intended and used for the commercial transport of more than 12 persons excluding the crew (see also article 1 of the Dutch Inland Navigation Decree).

To obtain an operating permit for harbour waters, the 12-persons requirement is abandoned. Ships that are designed for passenger transport on the River IJ must have an operating permit, irrespective of the number of persons on board.

A number of exempted categories have been defined.

I regularly use my ship for pleasure boating in Amsterdam, taking people with me. Do I need to have an operating permit for harbour waters?

As long as you do not use your ship for the commercial transport of passengers, you do not need to have an operating permit for harbour waters.

I also sail on inland water, do I need to have two operating permits?

No, if you have an operating permit for Binnenwater from the municipality of Amsterdam, you can also use it to sail on the Port Water.

When your permit for inland waterways expires, you will have to apply for a new permit to continue sailing on the Port Water.

I have a shipping company with three passenger ships. Do I have to apply for an operating permit for each ship separately?

An operating permit for harbour waters is issued for each individual ship. In this case you will have to apply for three operating permits. The application is made on behalf of the shipping company and the ship concerned.

If I decide to install another engine in my passenger ship, do I have to submit an application for an operating permit for harbour waters again?

That depends. If the installation of another engine means that a new Certificaat van Onderzoek (Inspection Certificate) must be issued, you will have to submit an application again.

If I have an operating permit for harbour waters, am I automatically allowed to enter the harbour basins?

No, even with an operating permit for harbour waters, you must apply for an exemption of the harbour basins entry prohibition with the Harbour Master's Division. Without an operating permit an exemption of the entry prohibition cannot be granted.

How does the application work?

Do I first have to obtain a mooring permit to be eligible for an operating permit for harbour waters?

No, that is not necessary. A mooring permit is not a requirement for an operating permit for harbour waters.

How many times a year do I have to moor in Amsterdam in order to keep the operating permit?

The operating permit is issued for an indefinite period of time. The provisions of the operating permit for harbour waters do not specify how often it must be used. This means that even if you moor in Amsterdam, for example, only once every three years, you will retain your permit.

Other questions about the permit

How long will the permit be valid?

The Port Water operating permit is valid for an indefinite period of time. However, it is periodically checked whether the regulations in the enhanced Port Water operating permit can remain unchanged.

Is there a limit to the number of applications I can submit?

No, you may submit as many applications as you wish.

Is there a distinction between modern or classic passenger ships?

No, there is no distinction. This is about passenger ships that already comply with certain legal building regulations.

Is the operating permit system for harbour waters a closed system?

No, it is not a closed system. There is no question of volume policy or a system with weighted accession. This means that there is room for new entrants, provided they meet the conditions.

My passenger ship does not have a valid Certificaat van Onderzoek (Inspection Certificate). What could it mean for me?

Ships that do not have a valid Certificaat van Onderzoek or CvO (Inspection Certificate) for zone 3 waters (main routes such as the River IJ and the North Sea Canal) will not be eligible for an operating permit for harbour waters because this is one of the conditions.

If I sell my passenger ship, will my operating permit be transferred to the new owner?

Yes, on transfer of your passenger vessel there is a new owner and that person has to change the existing license.

The (document duty) costs for changing a Port Water operating permit, are equal to the (document duty) costs for changing a Inland Water operating permit. These are determined annually by the municipality of Amsterdam in the Fees Bye-laws.

How do I know if my passenger ship has been approved to sail in zone 3 waters?

This will be mentioned in the Certificaat van Onderzoek (Inspection Certificate).

If I give my ship another name, do I have to apply for an operating permit for harbour waters again?

No, that is not necessary. When your passenger ship is renamed, the new ship's name can be stated on the operating permit for harbour waters issued to you.

You must notify us of this change of name as soon as possible. This notification must be accompanied by supporting documents.

What is meant by commercial use of a passenger ship?

As soon as you start to transport passengers commercially it will be seen as commercial use.

Am I obliged to be insured in order to qualify for a permit?

No, insurance is not a permit condition.

When exactly do the commercial activities with a passenger ship have a focus on Amsterdam?

This means that all or part of the activities you carry out on your passenger vessel will take place in Amsterdam and you will moor in this area.

If the economic activity is not aimed at Amsterdam and you therefore do not moor in this area, you do not need to have a Port Water operating permit.

Navigating through the city without mooring in Amsterdam is not an 'Amsterdam-focused activity'.