Learn How to Organize an ISA/ILS International Surf and SUP Instructor Aquatic Rescue and Safety Course here.

View List of Approved Presenters here.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) have entered into a key strategic partnership together to establish a universally recognized, global standard water safety course and certification for surfing and stand-up paddle (SUP) coaches and instructors. In its first year (2017) this course was wildly successful being run 27 times in 17 countries for 290 surf and SUP instructors. Since the partnership began in 2017 there have been 341 ISA/ILS Water Safety Courses run for 4,282 instructors in over 50 countries.

The ISA/ILS International Surf and SUP Instructor Aquatic Rescue and Safety Course is specific for the surf instructing environment and available for all ISA and ILS Members to access. The course can be presented by ILS Member Organizations and those with formal endorsed trainer/assessor qualification.

The aims of this course are as follows:

  • Establish a global minimum standard for Surf/SUP instructors water safety certification as the current water safety requirements vary from country to country. This will translate into a transportable safety accreditation that will benefit traveling coaches.
  • Complement the ISA Coaching and Instructing Program Courses that currently require all ISA accredited instructors to hold a valid, recognized water safety accreditation
  • Promote water safety world-wide.
  • Enhance the value of the ISA Coaching Certification and provide more opportunities to our program participants.


ISA Course Presenter Tim Jones.

Course Details:

The course is run over two days. It contains theory, practical components, and group activities. Assessment is competency based and successful completion is based upon the following:

  • Full attendance of the training course and all practical assessments
  • Basic Surf Fitness Test
  • Competency in each of the Practical Assessments
  • Completion of course participant workbook

Basic Surf Fitness Test: Run-swim-run to demonstrate surf skill competency, based on small to moderate surf conditions and to be completed within a 5-minute timeframe: Minimum of 100m run, negotiation of the inner surf zone with a swim of at least 100m through the surf and impact zone, 100m run. Course presenters may extend the Basic Surf Fitness Test depending on conditions and adjust the time-frame accordingly.

Practical Assessments: Unconscious board rescue, basic first aid techniques in various scenarios, and provision of basic emergency care, including CPR.

Please find an overview of the ISA/ILS International Surf and SUP Instructor Aquatic Rescue and Safety Course HERE

All participants will receive an ISA/ILS Water Safety Accreditation that is valid for two years. This accreditation fulfills the minimum water safety requirement for the ISA Coaching and Instructing Program and includes international ILS-endorsement and recognition

All course material will be delivered electronically to the Course Organizer or to the Official Course Presenters.

Renewal: The ISA/ILS Water Safety Accreditation must be refreshed every two years

Please Note: ***Requirements of individual member nations internal requirements in relation to CPR and fitness recertification must also be considered.


Who Can Present:

All presenters of the ISA/ILS International Surf and SUP Instructor Aquatic Rescue and Safety Course must be approved by the ISA and the presentation of this course is available to the following:

  • Individuals with formal ILS endorsed trainer/assessor lifesaving qualifications or those that demonstrate underpinning knowledge and ability to present the course. These individuals must submit a CV + qualifications to the ISA/ILS for review
  • ILS Member Organizations and Lifesaving Trainers with formal lifesaving qualifications and underpinning knowledge of the course competencies. To find the ILS Member in your nation view the ILS Membership Directory

All interested course presenters can apply to the ISA Office by sending a CV, lifesaving qualifications, and lifesaving experience to [email protected]

Please note:

***Course Presenters must have completed the course or demonstrate clear underpinning knowledge of the competencies

***The course will be offered in all countries of the world except those with existing surf/SUP instructor specific water safety accreditation courses (Great Britain, Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa) In these countries the following organizations must be consulted prior to the running of this course: Surf Lifesaving Great Britain (Great Britain), Irish Water Safety (Ireland), the Sociedade Brasileira Salvamento Aquatico (Brazil), and Lifesaving South Africa (South Africa).

***Preference of presenting this course given to existing ISA Course Presenters with formal recognized lifesaving qualifications.


Course Development History:

The ISA requires all ISA Certified Coaches and Instructors to maintain a valid lifesaving or water safety accreditation. In upholding this requirement the ISA noticed a lack of consistency in water safety accreditations for Surf and SUP coaches and that many had to use courses that were more time consuming than necessary, difficult to access, and providing non-applicable content. Additionally there was a lack of available courses in some countries where ISA Coaching courses were taking place. The ISA worked with ISA Course Presenter and ILS accredited trainer Jamo Borthwick, to develop the base of the content and the ILS, with their extensive water safety experience, have reviewed, contributed, and joined ISA in making this course available.

The ISA was pleased to reach an agreement with ILS at the end of 2016 and roll-out the ISA/ILS International Surf and SUP Instructor Aquatic Rescue and Safety Course in 2017. This water safety accreditation course is fully endorsed by the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) and all participants will receive an internationally endorsed water safety accreditation. In 2017 this course was run 27 times in 17 countries for 290 Surf and SUP instructors.


The new ISA/ILS International Surf and SUP Instructor Aquatic Rescue and Safety Course will be complementary to your ISA Coaching and Instructing Program Courses and allow your instructors the opportunity to obtain an internationally endorsed water safety accreditation in conjunction with their coaching and instructing accreditation.  

As Course Organizers, ISA members have the following options for water safety course delivery:

  1. Directly by your own Course Presenter, if that person is authorized by the ISA/ILS for course presentation or can up-skill to get to that level.
  2. Liaising with the ILS Member Association in your country and providing the course for you them to deliver.
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