Study programmes for seafarers

Various types of study programmes are available for (future) seafarers. These study programmes are split into two types: mainstream education and contract teaching. By mainstream education we mean full time education in MBO (senior secondary vocational education) and HBO (higher professional education) study programmes. For the most part, contract teaching comprises short maritime health and safety training courses.

Education in the Netherlands for (future) seafarers comprises:

  • Mainstream education
  • Contract teaching

Mainstream education

Mainstream education comprises study programmes that are covered by the umbrella of the Adult and Vocational Education Act (WEB) and the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW). A large number of MBO and HBO institutions provide mainstream education study programmes for the fisheries, merchant shipping and hydraulic engineering sectors. Supervision of these programmes is the responsibility of the Inspectorate of Education. The website Zeebenengezocht (in Dutch) provides more information about these study programmes, such as pre-training, career prospects and the addresses of nautical colleges.

Contract teaching

For the most part, contract teaching comprises short maritime health and safety training programmes/courses. These training programmes and courses are given by a whole range of institutions. International treaties, the STCW 95 Code and EU directives, require that these training courses be supervised.
In the Netherlands this supervision is carried out by the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate (the Inspectorate). Training programmes or courses are approved once they have undergone a successful assessment.

Contract teaching abroad

For training programmes and courses given abroad, supervision is the responsibility of the authorities in the relevant country.

It is important that anyone wishing to take a training programme or course in another country checks that the programme or course has been approved by the relevant maritime authority. It must also be a country in the European Union, the European Economic Area or a country with which the Netherlands has a bilateral agreement.
For a list of countries with which the Netherlands has a bilateral agreement contact
Applications for a certificate of competency must be accompanied by certificates from approved training programmes and courses.

List of approved training courses

The List of approved training courses shows training programmes and courses per Dutch educational institution that have been approved by the Inspectorate. This list of these can be found at the bottom of this page.
For a list of Statutory training programmes and courses for personnel on seagoing merchant ships contact The list provides an overview of statutory training programmes and courses with information on the period of validity as well as refresher course requirements.