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Scuba Diving


(Published Jan 2018, last reviewed with no updates March 2022)

What is Scuba Diving?

Scuba Diving is underwater swimming using self-contained breathing apparatus such as an aqualung. As it is self-contained it allows the diver to go deeper underwater and stay underwater longer than a snorkeler.

What is a Scuba Diving Permit?

The adventurous activity permit scheme is designed to ensure that only people with the relevant skills and experience lead adventurous activities for the young people. Therefore all activities classed as adventurous can only be led by someone holding the appropriate permit. Additionally young people (under 18) can take part in adventurous activities for themselves with personal activity permits.

A Scuba Diving permit is required for all Scuba Diving taking place in both sheltered and open water.

Levels of Permit

Permits for Scuba Diving can be issued for either sheltered water or open water. Each class of permit can be further restricted (such as through specific locations etc.) to end up with an individual permit to the level of the competence and requirements of any person.

Types of Permit

There are two types of permit available for Scuba Diving. These are:

Personal – Allows a young person (under 18, minimum age 16) to take part in Scuba Diving with others with a personal Scuba Diving permit.

Leadership – Allows the permit holder (minimum age 16) to lead Scuba Diving for a single group.

Permit Limitations

Personal – If you hold a personal Scuba Diving permit you can go Scuba Diving with others who hold a personal Scuba Diving permit. It does not allow you to go Scuba Diving with anyone not holding a Scuba Diving permit.

Leadership – If you have permit to lead Scuba Diving then you can look after up to four participants at a time. You must remain with the group throughout the activity in the most appropriate position to look after all participants (i.e. in the water, on the side, on a boat). You remain responsible for the entire group that you are leading.

Further Definitions

Sheltered Water is a well maintained swimming pool or water which provides similar conditions. Namely; depth less than four metres, bottom of firm composition, adequate visibility (minimum five metres) and free from significant water movement.

Open Water is any water encompassing conditions beyond those of Sheltered Waters.

Rules relating to scuba diving

Rule 9.7 Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme

Rule 9.8 Adult groups undertaking activities

Rule 9.13.1 All water activities

Rule 9.13.3 Classification of Waters

Rule 9.13.4 Activities on class c waters

General activity rules

Rule 9.1 All Activities

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors