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Life jacket compulsory in the Netherlands? Read it in our information guide!

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Henri Verbeek |

We regularly get the question from customers whether life jackets are mandatory on a boat. The answer to this is somewhat in the middle, as it is not mandatory to wear one, but it is to have a life jacket for every person on board.

With a life jacket you can ensure that if you fall overboard that you float better. However, it cannot prevent drowning. If you put on a life jacket, it is therefore useful if you can also swim well.

When is a life jacket mandatory?

When a life jacket is mandatory depends on a number of things. For example, it depends on whether you are going to sail or whether you are going to do another water activity. A life jacket is not mandatory during surfing, canoeing, supping or other water sports. However, it can one day help to prevent accidents, since it will at least keep you afloat.

In the Netherlands it is only mandatory to have a life jacket available for every person on board.

In an emergency, everyone can put on their life jacket and stay afloat better until help arrives. For children we recommend to purchase a life jacket.

In addition, in some countries you may be required to wear a life jacket on the boat or in certain waters. Always inquire about this with your travel agency or the organization where you booked the trip.

Life jacket compulsory on the boat in the Netherlands

As you may already know, it is not mandatory to wear a life jacket on a boat. You must, however, have life jackets with you for every person on board. Should an emergency arise where everyone has to get off the boat? Then you better wear a life jacket.

  • When the water is cold you can get cramps faster, and without a life jacket it is difficult to stay above water. So look for a suitable life jacket for all persons on board or indicate that they must bring their own life jacket. Take a look at our range and find the life jacket that meets your personal needs.

What about children?

There is also no life jacket obligation for children in the Netherlands. However, we strongly recommend that your children put on a life jacket when you take them on the boat. In fact, it is wise to put a life jacket on them. A life jacket does not prevent drowning and you must be able to swim well for it.

In that case, a life jacket is better in our opinion, since you have little or no chance of drowning with it. We can recognize the life jackets by their large collar.

This collar ensures that you lie on your back and your head stays above water. This keeps your airways clear and allows you to breathe even when you are unconscious.

Is a life jacket mandatory?

There is no life jacket obligation in the Netherlands for those on board, but there is for the driver of the boat. On fast motor boats (boats that can sail faster than 20 km/h), it is mandatory for the driver to wear a life jacket when steering while standing. Moreover, this only applies when you are outside steering.

Are you inside or are you steering outside? Then there is no obligation for a life jacket, but it is still recommended. Furthermore, the driver must always be attached to the dead man's cord.

This is a lanyard that the driver puts on his wrist and prevents the boat from moving forward if the driver goes overboard.

On fast motor boats it is also mandatory to have a life jacket available for all persons on board. These are life jackets with a minimum buoyancy of 100N (Newton), so not a life jacket with a buoyancy of 50N.

Different types of life jackets and life jackets

Today there are different types of life jackets and life jackets. It is therefore good to know what to look for when choosing it. Consider in advance what you want to use the vest for and base your choice on that basis.

The different types of life jackets cannot necessarily be distinguished from each other, as they are mainly adult and children's life jackets.

For adults there are life jackets with a buoyancy of 50N made of various materials, including neoprene and nylon. On the other hand, you also have inflatable life jackets for children, but we still recommend a neoprene or nylon life jacket.

Life jackets come in different types. You have the well-known solid life jackets and the automatic life jackets. A solid life jacket is a jacket with a large collar made of foam. This will keep you floating on the surface of the water and tip you onto your back.

Even with automatic life jackets you are tipped onto your back and you float on the surface of the water. However, instead of foam, there is air in the vest.

Moreover, the air is only released when the salt tablet comes into contact with the water, after which the firing pin opens the CO2 cartridge and the vest will inflate itself. With an automatic lifejacket you have more freedom of movement on the boat.

What should you take into account?

There is therefore no life jacket obligation, but it is still wise to take one with you. On a fast motorboat you are even obliged to have a life jacket (with a buoyancy of 100N) for every person on board. It is therefore good to know what to look out for when purchasing it.

Always make sure that the vest fits well and has the correct buoyancy for your weight. Life jackets are available in 100N, 150N and 275N versions. The latter are mainly used on the open sea.

For children it is of course also essential to have a good life jacket. Therefore, regularly check the weight and whether the vest is still made for this. To check whether the size is still correct, carefully lift your child by the life jacket. If the chin does not slide through the opening of the vest, it is still good.

Need a life jacket or life jacket?

Are you still looking for a life jacket or life jacket for your next boat trip? Then take a look at our wide range on this page. Here you will find various models in different sizes, colours, styles and buoyancy capacities, so there is something for everyone.

Can't quite figure it out yourself or don't know what to look out for? Do not hesitate to contact our customer service by calling, emailing or using the live chat. We are happy to help you find the right water sports equipment.

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