French regulations governing sea kayaking

Reference text: order of 11th March 2008, published in the Official Journal of 8th April 2008

Authorised to navigate more than 300m from the shore, providing technical regulations are observed, crafts powered exclusively by manpower and with the following minimum characteristics:

• length exceeding 4 metres,
• width exceeding 0.45 metres,
• for multi-hulled crafts, overall width is equal to the total width of the main hull and outriggers, providing the outriggers are more than 1.5 metres long. This width must be greater than 0.4 metres.
• craft powered by oars with a width greater than 1 metre must present a length to width ratio lower than 10.

REMINDER: Exclusively man-powered inflatable craft are beach craft, the navigation zone of which is limited to the band of sea within 300 metres of the coast.


These craft may be used for daylight excursions up to 2 nautical miles from shelter.
Sailing up to 5 nautical miles* from shelter is only authorised for craft sailing in pairs and within sight of each other.


These craft must be registered with maritime authorities and are exonerated from the requirement for external identification markings. The sailing permit, issued with registration, must be on board.

French regulations governing sea kayaking

French regulations governing sea kayaking


For sailing up to two nautical miles* from shelter:

  •  life jacket or life vest,
  •  a mooring rope with carabiner, at least as long as the craft length,
  •  spare paddle or oar, except for oar-powered craft with more than one crew member,
  •  a system to ensure watertightness of the cockpit, except for oar-powered craft and sit-on-tops,• a bailer rope-tied to the craft or a draining pump, except if the cockpit is self-bailing,
  •  a device to allow towing: a tow point and tow rope. Tow end of sufficient length (over 2 times the length of the kayak),
  •  the means to haul up a person who has fallen overboard: lifeline, paddle or rolling float for solo kayaking,
  •  light source for signalling (flash lamp, luminescent baton).

For sailing up to 6 nautical miles* from shelter, this list is extended with the following equipment:


  •  a compass,
  •  three red hand signal lights compliant with division 311 "Marine equipment",
  •  audible signalling system (fog horn or efficient whistle),
  •  a nautical chart of the area sailed,
  •  a signalling mirror,

Recommended additional kit

  •  waterproof VHF radio, or in a watertight pouch, mobile phone, GPS device,
  •  spare paddle,
  •  international paddle signal code,
  •  check the weather forecast before leaving, find out about sea currents and tide times.

*1 mille nautique = 1 852 mètres
Data provided for information only. For further information, please see the ministry of transport site


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