Why has the Dutch ICP lost its value?

In many countries, and particularly countries around the Mediterranean sea, the ICP as issued in the Netherlands was a valuable alternative for their own flag registrar. Owners of a Dutch ICP licence sailed under the flag of the Netherlands and were for a part no longer required to meet the rules and regulations of their own country.


For example in some countries when registered in their ships registrar, owners are required to have the vessel surveyed on an annual basis, expensive and high maintenance safety equipment is compulsorily, etc. etc. etc.


For this reason many sailing boats and motor cruiser were sailing care free under the flag of the Netherlands and showed their Dutch ICP when asked for by local authorities.


That is until a German owned boat full of refugees was refused to enter a port in Italy.


On Thursday 21 June the German vessel Lifeline picked-up 226 immigrants who were tempting to cross the Mediterranean sea, seeking a better life in Europe. Heading off to Italy, the 32 meter long boat was refused entry by the Italian authorities.

The German owned vessel was sailing under the Dutch flag and claimed to have the Dutch nationality because it was sailing with an ICP issued in the Netherlands.


As the ICP was originally introduced to stimulate pleasure crafts (<24m) to sail the inland waters of the EU, the government of the Netherlands reacted immediately stating that Lifeline was not permitted to sail under the Dutch flag and most certainly does not have the Netherlands nationality.


The Dutch parliament became restless, questions were asked and pragmatic as the Dutch are a solution was put into place within just two weeks.


Whereas in the past the Dutch ICP documents stated “Flag Dutch”, since mid-July it states “Flag non-applicable”. To clarify matters the Dutch ICP document also states the following:

Prior to issue of this document ownership has been rendered credible. This certificate is valid only as long as the particulars have not changed. In case of change, it must be returned to the issuing organization for amendment.

This document can not be interpreted as giving Dutch nationality to the craft, nor does it constitute the right to fly the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as defined by Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Consequently the Kingdom of the Netherlands does not accept any of the responsibilities listed in article 94 of UNCLOS.

Now that owners of a Dutch ICP are no longer permitted to sail under the flag of the Netherlands and the ICP has returned to be a document for which it was originally intended. An unofficial document which confirms the ownership of the vessel, nothing more….nothing less.