4 Important Points To Consider Before Renting A Boat In Holland

One of the best ways to discover The Netherlands is from the water. Being on the water is fun and gives you a different perspective of the country. It is also one of the best activities possible in The Netherlands now that a “social distance” of at least 1,5 meters has become very important.

You need to consider four points before you rent a boat in The Netherlands

  • How to find a reliable boat rental company?
  • Do You Need A License To Rent A Boat?
  • Do You Need An Insurance If You Rent A Boat?
  • How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Boat?

The devil is in the details, so let’s discuss these questions in more detail to prepare you and enjoy your time on the water in The Netherlands as much as possible.

How To Find A Reliable Boat Rental Company?

The answer to this question depends on where and how long you want to rent a boat. For example, if you wish to rent a boat for an afternoon cruise through the canals of a city in the Netherlands, you should not spend too much time and brainpower on this.

You have companies like Greenjoy in several cities where you can book a barge online, activate them with your mobile phone and sail away. These barges are powered by electromotors and are easy to operate even if you are inexperienced in steering a boat.

If you are inexperienced in steering a boat, it is not smart to start and cruise through Amsterdam’s many canals, where it can be hectic on the water. Instead, do yourself a favor and get some experience in mid-size cities like Utrecht or Leiden, where the canals are much quieter, before taking on Amsterdam as skipper of a barge.

You may also want to explore the Netherlands by boat because The Netherlands has many rivers, canals, and lakes. If you are looking for a more extended rental period, it makes sense to do more research to find a good and reliable rental company. It is a bit of an open door, but the internet is your most important source of information to find out where you can rent a boat.

However, you will be blown away by the number of boat rental companies, so it will be challenging to decide which rental company to select.

How to find a reliable rental boat company in The Netherlands?

  • Check if the rental company uses the HISWA rental agreement conditions. The abbreviation HISWA stands for the National Water Sports Association in The Netherlands, and it is a quality badge for companies if they are a member of HISWA.

Do You Need A License To Rent A Boat?

The rules for steering a motorboat without a license are straightforward. A permit is not required, provided the boat is not longer than 15 meters and can not go faster than 20 kilometers per hour. These rules apply to all motorboats, from small speedboats to larger motorboats.

If you have a motorboat smaller than 15 meters but that can go faster than 20 kilometers per hour, a license is required, even if you go slower than 20 kilometers per hour.

What is important is how fast the boat can go and not how fast you are going. For example, you need a license if you are maneuvering a speedboat even though you are slower than 20 km/hour.

You may very well have obtained a license to steer a larger boat in your home country. In the Netherlands, you can then apply for an ICC in other countries. An ICC ( International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft) is a certificate intended to provide international evidence of competence for steering larger boats.

The International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft is also known as the International Certificate of Competence, and the usual abbreviation is ICC. If you are in the proud possession of an ICC, you are allowed to steer a boat longer than 15 meters and go faster than 20 km/hr in The Netherlands.

Furthermore, it is important to know that the person steering the boat is responsible and not the boat owner. So you can own a boat longer than 15 meters without a license and let someone with a license steer it for you. However, this person must be over 16 years of age.

Do You Need An Insurance If You Rent A Boat?

It is not a legal requirement in the Netherlands to have insurance, but it is highly recommendable. It has become busier and busier on the water, and you can not exclude a collision with another boat. If you are inexperienced in maneuvering a boat, you may cause damage inadvertently.

You will encounter some bottlenecks on the water, like bridges and locks, where you will have to wait before they open. Many boats, often dozens, will move forward at the same time once the bridge or lock opens, and you will have to get safely through this bottleneck. You are on the water to get peace of mind, and your boat’s adequate insurance will help you stay calm even in the hectic situations around bridges and locks.

So, ask for insurance if you are renting a boat. The ship is always well insured by HISWA member rental companies. You should expect a coverage deductible equal to the deposit you must pay to rent the boat. The deposit will depend on the size and cost of the boat you rent.

Pay attention to the insurance rules on which persons are allowed to be behind the boat’s steering wheel. The insurance will not be applicable if you do not follow these rules.

I mention this because you will have to consider if you can allow one of your children to steer the boat. If your child is 12 years or older, they may operate an open boat that is no longer than 7 meters and cannot sail faster than 13 kilometers per hour. So, as of 12 years, your children can get some experience on the water with the dinghy that you tow behind your larger boat but not with the larger motorboat itself.

Children must be at least 16 years before they can steer a boat with a speed limit of 20 kilometers per hour. And if your ship can go faster than 20 kilometers per hour, your child must be 18 years of age or older and possess a license.

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Boat?

The cost of renting a boat varies tremendously, and it pays to make some comparisons before you make a decision.

For example, if you want to cruise through a city with a barge, the costs of renting a barge in Amsterdam are in the € 100 – 200 / hour range. During the summertime, the rental rates are often closer to and above € 200 / hour. On the other hand, renting a barge in a mid-size city like Utrecht will cost € 25 – 50 / hour.

This difference is one of the many reasons to explore other cities in The Netherlands than just Amsterdam. I think prices in Amsterdam for tourist attractions have become absurd because most visitors are coming to visit Amsterdam first and foremost.

If you consider renting a larger motorboat but shorter than 15 meters to avoid the license requirement, the issue is often if such a boat is available during the vacation periods. Rental rates are € 1000 – 2000 / week during these busy periods. If possible, try to make a reservation outside the vacation period, and rental rates will decrease by 30-50%.

Check out the websites below where the offerings of more rental companies are combined. These sites will help you get an overview of the variability in rental rates for the type of boat you are looking for during different periods of the year and in other regions of The Netherlands. It pays to explore these sites in detail.

I hope you will enjoy your time on the water in The Netherlands..!


Bas is as Dutch as he can be with his 23 years and very convinced that he wants to live nowhere else for the rest of his life.