Is it illegal to dive without certification and is it legal to dive alone?
It’s not as important to know whether it’s illegal to dive without certification as it is to know why scuba diver certification is important.
It’s not illegal to dive without certification and if you’re not certified there are no scuba police to put you in prison. But it’s dangerous to dive without certification and you’ll not be able to dive with any reputable dive centre or dive club without first getting certified to scuba dive.
If you want to scuba dive, then do it the right and safe way and get trained. You have a choice of a few scuba diving schools, where there are three top schools around the world: PADI, SSI and BSAC.
The best way to do more diving is to book yourself on a scuba diving liveaboard. You can check the latest and best deals on liveaboards using the following window:
Before you continue this article, and as an aside, in this article about where to find great white sharks, you may be as surprised as I was to discover some of the places where you find great white sharks! Place number 6 is the one that surprised me the most, but if you live in the States, you may be more surprised at places two, three and four.
Why it’s not illegal to scuba dive without certification?
Scuba diving is a self-policed sport, which means there are no scuba diving police waiting to check your diving certification when you surface from a dive.
Scuba diving certification is not like passing a driving test to drive on the road where it would be illegal to drive without a valid driving licence. But just because it’s not illegal to dive without certification doesn’t mean it’s okay to do so.
Scuba diving is classed as a dangerous sport even with certification. So to dive without certification would make it extremely dangerous.
It’s unlikely you’ll find a dive centre, scuba diving operator or dive boat that would let you dive without first checking your diver qualification. If any scuba diving operator doesn’t check your certification they are either unscrupulous or negligent.
Also, the worrying thing is there’s actually nothing to stop you from buying all the scuba diving equipment and scuba diving alone. You don’t require a certificate to buy equipment, as it’s not like buying a gun at a gun shop.
If you decide to scuba dive alone without first getting your diver certification it’s unlikely anyone would stop you. You’re not about to get arrested the moment you step out of the water.
How deep can you dive without a certification?
No depth of dive is suitable if you don’t have certification to scuba dive, which includes shallow diving. A pulmonary barotrauma or arterial gas embolism can occur in an ascent of just one metre (3 feet), which means there are potential risks with scuba diving from any depth.
So it won’t be the scuba police you need to worry about if you’re not certified to dive, but you may never step out of the water ever again if you make a mistake you’re not aware of because you didn’t do the training.
Before you scuba dive you need to know what the dangers are so you can avoid them. Even certified scuba divers make mistakes, but if you don’t have the right certification there are many mistakes you could make as an unqualified diver.
This may sound dramatic but Scuba Diving Earth is about safe diving first when it comes to scuba diving.
Do you have to be certified to scuba dive?
You don’t have to be certified to scuba dive but you need to get certified for your own safety. You can do what’s known as a try-dive or a try-out session in a swimming pool or sheltered shallow reef before to take your diver certification.
But when you experience a try-dive you will be under the guidance of a qualified diving instructor. Also, before you descend the instructor will run through some basic safety first. The instructor will be with you at all times and ideally will be no more than two try-divers per instructor.
What are the dangers of diving without certification?
The most important dangers of diving without certification include:
- Decompression sickness (DCS): Without knowing about the risks of decompression sickness you may dive too deep for too long and end up with DCS.
- Pulmonary barotrauma: Pulmonary barotrauma is caused by an overexpansion of your lungs causing a alveolar rupture. This can occur when breath-holding when you breathe compressed air during ascent and is particularly dangerous on rapid ascents.
There are many other dangers associated with diving underwater that you learn from all of the diving schools and centres. The top three scuba diving centres include:
- PADI (Most widely available world wide).
- SSI (The second most widely available worldwide).
- BSAC, which is one of the leading and most recognised diver certifications you can have.
With all three top dive centres you will learn about the implications of the pressure of water as you go deeper. Part of this training about depth and water pressure. It’s also about safe ascents and decompression and about learning decompression stops and safety stops.
Can you getting scuba tank filled without certification?
It is very easy to get scuba tanks filled without certification as not many scuba air-fill stations ask for proof of certification. Some reputable dive centres will ask for your C-Card or equivalent before they will fill your dive tanks because this protects them against any civil liability claims.
Can you buy scuba gear without certification?
You can buy scuba gear without having certification, but it’s difficult to dive before you get certified as no reputable dive centre will take you diving. Also reputable dive shops won’t fill your tanks or rent air tank without a (C-Card). Failing this you could dive alone, but this is dangerous.
Can you rent scuba gear without a certification?
It’s difficult to rent scuba gear without certification from any reputable dive shop. Most dive shops want to see your certification card (C-Card) before they supply you with any scuba equipment. They are protecting themselves from civil liability claims as well as protecting you from injury.
Is it legal to dive alone?
It’s not illegal to dive alone, but diving alone is not safe to do. All diver training schools teach the buddy system which means scuba divers always dive in pairs.
As it is not illegal to dive without certification, it’s also not illegal to dive alone. But that doesn’t mean you should dive alone. Going through your diver training you will learn about the dangers of diving alone. But you may like to read this article about can you scuba dive by yourself.
All diver training is taught on the buddy system. This means that divers should always dive in pairs for safety. Diving alone is dangerous because in an environment not ordinarily designed for air breathing animals.
Scuba diving requires an aqua lung which is our air supply to breathe underwater. Should this equipment fail your buddy will be there with their alternative air source (or octopus) to come to your rescue. If you are diving alone you will not have this back up.
Can anyone go scuba diving?
Anyone can go scuba diving. This includes men and women, young and old (but perhaps not very old). But there are certain physical and medical conditions that preclude some people from scuba diving.
Whilst scuba diving is a gentle sport and not a work-out as such it does put stresses and strains on the body. The equipment is very heavy and cumbersome when you’re out of the water.
Once you are underwater your scuba equipment becomes weightless, but then other factors need to be born in mind. For example water pressure and the affects this has on your body.
Nitrogen gasses get dissolved into your body tissues at greater concentrations at depth, which means you need be medically cleared to safely scuba dive.
Most dive centres are happy for you to medically self-certify yourself. But don’t certify yourself medically safe if you have the slightest of worry or condition that may be dangerous to you underwater.
If you have any doubts about your physical or medical ability to scuba dive always consult your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Is PADI certification good for life?
Your PADI certification is good for life, however, you must keep your diving up to date. The same applies for SSI and BSAC too.
To keep your diving up to date you need to be diving at least on a semi-regular basis. I’d say at least once every 6-12 months depending on your experience. If you are new to diving and don’t have much experience I would say you need to dive more regularly. The best way to get more diving under your belt is to dive on a liveaboard.
Table of dive liveaboards
This list of liveaboards is in descending customer rating order, followed by Scuba Diving Luxury Rating (SDE Lux Rating, see below), so the liveaboards with the highest customer rating and the best SDE lux rating will be at the top of the list. If you want to change the list order, use the “Sort by” dropdown below.
|Discover Liveaboard||Customer Rating||SDE Lux Rating %||Flexible Booking||Dive Courses||Dietary Requirements||Nitrox||Country|
|Review: MV Seaisee; Book: MV Seaisee||10||90%||YES||NO||YES||YES||Indonesia|
|Review: Scubaspa Zen; Book: Scubaspa Zen||10||88%||YES||YES||YES||YES||Indonesia|
|Review: Jardines Avalon Fleet - Charter Only; Book: Jardines Avalon Fleet - Charter Only||10||83%||YES||NO||YES||YES||Cuba|
|Review: Jardines Avalon Fleet; Book: Jardines Avalon Fleet||10||83%||YES||NO||YES||YES||Cuba|
|Review: Jakaré; Book: Jakaré||10||81%||YES||YES||YES||YES||Indonesia|
|Review: All Star Cuan Law; Book: All Star Cuan Law||10||79%||YES||YES||YES||NO||Virgin Islands|
|Review: Leyla; Book: Leyla||10||73%||YES||YES||YES||NO||Indonesia|
The Scuba Diving Earth Luxury Rating (SDE Lux Rating) is explained on each liveaboard review when you click the “Discover Liveaboard” link, and is my own Liveaboard Luxury Rating I’ve assigned to all liveaboards. Choosing between liveaboards is helped by customer scores, and if you get stuck choosing between two or three liveaboards, where each one has a high customer score out of 10, you can use the SDE Luxury Rating to help narrow down your choice.
Think about it like using Booking.com when searching for the best hotel. Booking.com also use a customer score where each customer rates hotels out of 10. This is similar to the liveaboard customer rating, which is also rated out of 10. But let’s say you only like to stay in hotels rated 8 and above on Booking.com, but you also want the hotel to have WIFI or parking, or to have a swimming pool etc. The features each hotel has is usually secondary to the score out of 10.
However, if you have had a gap in your scuba diving experience you don’t need to worry. All dive centres will be happy to provide you with a refresher session and dive. This will help you to become familiar with the underwater experience and with your equipment and how to use it once more.
In conclusion to do you have to be certified to scuba dive
Whilst it’s not illegal to scuba dive without a licence or certification to do so, it’s dangerous to dive without the necessary training and certification. Scuba diving training isn’t expensive and your life is far more valuable than a few hundred dollars to get certified.
Please don’t forget to take a look at this article about where to find great white sharks, you may be as surprised as I was to discover some of the places where you find great white sharks! Place number 6 is the one that surprised me the most, but if you live in the States, you may be more surprised at places two, three and four.
I hope you enjoyed this article about is it illegal to dive without certification
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about is it illegal to dive without certification), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!