A Diving certification or C-card is a document (usually a wallet sized plastic card) recognizing that an individual or organization authorized to do so, “certifies” that the bearer has completed a course of training as required by the agency issuing the card. This is assumed to represent a defined level of ability and knowledge in underwater diving. Divers carry a qualification record or certification card which may be required to prove their qualifications when booking a dive trip, hiring scuba equipment or filling diving cylinders.
Although recreational certifications are issued by numerous different diver training agencies, the entry-level grade is not always comparable. Different agencies will have different entry-level requirements as well as different higher-level grades, but all are claimed to allow a diver to develop their skills and knowledge in achievable steps.
The Diving Certification model originated at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in 1952 after two divers died whilst using university-owned equipment. The then President of the University of California Robert Gordon Sproul restricted diving to those who had been trained through the program at SIO and thus “certification” was born. A year later Los Angeles county sent Bev Morgan, Al Tillman, and Ramsey Parks to SIO for diver training. Upon their return, these three then developed the Los Angeles Underwater Instructors Program, the oldest such instructor training program in the U.S., and they used the SIO Diver Certification concept.
C-card is the generic term for any certification card issued by a diver certification organization. While sometimes taken to mean the minimum level training required to dive safely, it also applies to advanced and specialization certifications.
A typical card will list:
- Name and logo of the certifying organization
- Name and photograph of the person certified
- Certification reference or serial number
- Type of certification (basic, open water, advanced, nitrox, probationary, special skill, etc.)
- Date of certification
- Name of instructor
- Instructor’s registration number
Dive shops, charter boats and resorts worldwide may demand to see a C-card before filling cylinders, renting equipment, or allowing a person to participate in a dive. This is mainly done to minimize the potential legal liability of the vendor, but may also sometimes prevent untrained people from exposing themselves to hazards of which they are not aware.
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