Certification Requirements and Related Information

Notes: updates to the program were made June 2016 – see a summary with links.


The IRF has a number of certification awards available.  The type of award that is issued is determined by the skills and knowledge that is shown by the candidate, and the difficulty of the river where the assessment is given.  In addition, each level of award requires that specific requirements have been met prior to the assessment.  These requirements are detailed in the GUIDE TRAINING & EDUCATION AWARD SYSTEM document.

Your IRF Award will be valid for a period of three years from the assessment date.  To remain valid, you must also maintain a current acceptable first aid card during these three years.


The general requirements for each of the award levels that is available is as follows:

IRF Guide Certification  

  • Satisfactorily pass a guide assessment examination given by a qualified IRF GTE Instructor or Assessor.
  • Maintain a current basic first aid certificate (FAC) or equivalent with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Submit a log book recording your guiding activities, signed by the Trip Leader or Operations Manager of the company.
  • Pay all required IRF Assessment or Renewal fees.
  • Meet all specific requirements for Guides listed in the GUIDE TRAINING & EDUCATION AWARD SYSTEM document.

IRF Trip Leader Certification

  • Satisfactorily pass a Trip leader assessment examination given by a qualified IRF Instructor or Assessor.
  • Maintain a current advanced first aid certificate (AFAC) or equivalent with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Submit a log book recording your trip leading and guiding activities, signed by the Operations Manager of the company.
  • Pay all required IRF Assessment or Renewal fees.
  • Meet all specific requirements for Trip Leaders listed in the GUIDE TRAINING & EDUCATION AWARD SYSTEM document.

IRF GTE Instructor Certification

  • Satisfactorily pass an Instructor assessment examination given by an IRF GTE Assessor.
  • Maintain a current advanced first aid certificate (AFAC).  It is highly recommended that candidates hold a Wilderness First Responder (WRF) or Emergency Medical Techician (EMT) certification or equivalent.
  • Submit a log book recording your instruction and guiding activities.  Candidates must have instructed at least two IRF compliant training courses.  (See the link at the bottom of this page for information on recommended minimum content of an IRF compliant course)
  • Participate in an IRF GTE Instructor workshop
  • After gaining a Provisional Instructor status on an Instructor certification workshop, Candidates need to be signed off by an assessor delivering a full IRF guide training program under supervision.
  • Pay all required IRF Assessment or Renewal fees.
  • Meet all specific requirements for Instructors listed in the GUIDE TRAINING & EDUCATION AWARD SYSTEM document.
    Special Note:  Instructor assessments may not be available in some areas if sufficient Instructors already exist.



IRF GTE Assessment Fees (All certifications and renewals are valid for 3 years)
Guide Assessment fee (includes card) US$60.00
Trip Leader Assessment fee (includes card) US$90.00
Instructor Assessment fee (includes card) US$150.00
Guide or Trip Leader Renewal Fee (without card) US$25.00
Instructor Renewal Fee (without card) US$0.00
Renewals for expired certifications US$10.00 per year expired plus above renewal fees
Replacement or renewal cards US$25.00

Where candidates receive multiple assessments at one time they will be required to pay the higher fee for their assessment plus US$15.00 for the second qualification.
For example:

Raft Guide AND Safety Kayaker Certification (one card) US$60.00 + US$15.00 = US$75.00
Trip Leader AND Safety Kayaker Certification (one card) US$90.00 + US$15.00 = US$105.00



Instructors and Assessors normally require a fee to compensate for their time and expense in providing the assessment.  These fees are set by the Instructor or Assessor and will vary in the amount charged depending on several factors including (but not limited to) length of course, location of the river, equipment and services provided, number of candidates, the country or region, and the currency and method used for payment.  To determine the total cost of any course, you will need to communicate directly with your Instructor.



If you would like to be issued a certification card, you must provide your Instructor with the following:

  • a digital passport style photograph
  • your date of birth
  • a postal address for card to be sent to

Once your Instructor sends all of your information to the GTE Administration and your payment has been received, your card will then be processed and mailed to you.  Please be patient! Processing and mailing will normally take 3 – 6 weeks.

In some cases, the IRF has granted authority to a national organization to administer the scheme for the IRF.   In these cases,  the national organization will collect your fees and administer your certification and card.  For example, the Swiss Rafting Federation, Costa Rica Rafting Federation and Netherlands Rafting Federation have been granted this authority.  After the process is completed, these organizations will notify the IRF of your assessment, and your status will be published on our website along with other IRF certified guides.


Your status is easily renewed every three years when you pay the renewal fee and provide appropriate evidence that you are an active guide and that you are maintaining all other required certifications.  This must be done through your certifying Instructor. In addition, we highly recommend that you participate in an IRF refresher workshop every four years (or whenever possible) so that you can be updated on any changes to the scheme or new information.  The IRF does not charge fees for guide refresher courses, and Instructors generally only ask that you pay a nominal fee to cover your personal costs.

If you would like to be reminded when your renewal is due or to be kept up to date with news from Guide Training and Education please make sure you have given your email address to your instructor and the GTE administration.



The Certification Scheme was updated in July 2005, May 2007, December 2009, and April 2016.
The main changes of 2007 was the creation of the entry level awards “Trainee Guide” and “Class 2 Guide”. In 2009 at the GTE meeting held in Bosnia at the World Rafting Championships, two new certification schemes were introduced – “Inline-Raft”, which sets assessment standards for guides who work with inflatable kayaks and canoes, and similar craft;

and “Safety Crafter”, which sets assessment standards for guides who provide safety on a commercial trip using oar powered rafts, kayaks or other craft that are not carrying passengers for hire.  These modifications to the scheme were finalised by the GTE Committee in December 2009.

In April 2016 at the GTE Conference held in Austria, and during subsequent GTE Committee discussions, major revisions were made to the scheme.  It was renamed the “GTE Award System” and changes were introduced to improve on administrative oversight, award requirements, and system structure.  Revisions include the separation of the the Class 4/5 certification into a Level 4 and level 5 certification, certifications were revised to be valid for 3 years, the “Safety Crafter” designation was divided into separate designations called “Safety Raft” and “Safety Kayak”,  the term “training modules” was introduced to refer to GTE workshop training (Safety, In-line Raft, etc) that is not specific to Raft Guiding or Instruction, “Site Specific” and “Provisional” status designations were created, and the “Trainee Guide” level was eliminated and rolled in to the “Provisional”  status designation (among other changes).

The most recent version of the GTE Award System is version 2.2.   A link to this version is found below.



If you have any additional questions about IRF Guide Training and Education please ask your Instructor or Assessor.

Guide Training and Education (GTE) Program – 2016 and 2017 updates!!!

ATTENTION: ALL Instructors and Assessors

At the 2016 GTE Conference in Austria, various updates to the GTE Program were introduced, discussed and agreed upon. These changes were reconfirmed and discussed further at the 2017 GTE Conference in Greece.

Award related changes are included in IRF Award System document download IRFGTE V2.2.


Guide Training and Education (GTE) Program – 2016 and 2017 updates!!!

ATTENTION:  ALL Instructors and Assessors

At the 2016 GTE Conference in Austria, various updates to the GTE Program were introduced, discussed and agreed upon. These changes were reconfirmed and discussed further at the 2017 GTE Conference in Greece.  The updates are listed below with links provided where needed or comments on the status of the updates.  Award related changes are included in IRF Award System document. (Same document but in Spanish)


  • Certifications are now valid for 3 years.  New and renewed GTE certifications will now be valid for 3 years instead of 2 years.   IRF fees for the certification will remain the same,  however the cost will be higher to reflect the additional year. Guide and Trip Leader certification renewals will also be required every 3 years instead of every 2 years. (New fee structure can be seen here.)
  • Regional Assessors.  Regional Assessors are being appointed to oversee all Instructors who conduct workshops within a specific region: duties, revenues, disciplinary procedures and traveling instructors’ ethics.
  • Instructor Candidate Certification Process.  The requirements for obtaining a GTE Instructor certification will be more strictly observed, especially the requirement of previous guide training experience (as stated in the existing AS).  Assessors are required to be more rigorous and meticulous when assessing candidates to ensure that all Instructors are conforming with the established norms.  Except in cases where the Instructor candidate can prove extensive experience as a guide trainer/instructor, all candidates must first hold an IRF Trip Leader certification thus gaining a better understanding of the GTE assessment curriculum and skills requirements.
  • Provisional Status.  This status is given to a candidate who has successfully complied with most of the requirements needed to obtain an Award, but has not yet complied with all requirements.    A person who has been awarded Provisional status is restricted to operate only when under the direct supervision of an individual who holds a full IRF GTE certification of an equal or higher Level.Candidates with Provisional status may obtain full certification once all necessary requirements have been fulfilled or demonstrated to the appropriately qualified Instructor or Assessor. It is generally not required that a person with Provisional status participate in a full Workshop in order to demonstrate the remaining requirements.  This status will also replace the former “Trainee Certification”.
  • New Instructors.  Assessors shall award newly certified Instructor candidates with Provisional Instructor status (as described above).  Provisional Instructors must pass through a mentoring process under the supervision of their certifying Assessor or Regional Assessor before they obtain full Instructor status.  Provisional Instructors may only conduct workshops while being observed/assisted by an Assessor until which time the Assessor is satisfied that the Provisional Instructor understands and is compliant with all workshop protocols and procedures and is capable of conducting a proper workshop without additional guidance.
  • Instructor Certification Renewals.   To remain active, all Instructors must conduct a minimum of 2 GTE workshops every 2 years.  To remain current, they must also renew their certification every 3 years by either 1) conducting or attending a workshop that is overseen by an Assessor, or by 2) attending a GTE conference.  Instructors that do not follow the above protocols will be listed as inactive or expired respectively.  Inactive or expired Instructors will be required to complete the renewal process noted above to regain active status.  There will be a fee charged if an Instructor needs a new certification card to be issued.  Instructors who remain active and current will not be required to pay renewal fees.
  • Name Change for Certifications.  The nomenclature of awards had been changed.  ‘Class’ has been renamed to ‘Level’ to avoid confusion with the river classification system.  The awards available are now Level 2, 3, 4 and 5.  Practical assessments will still be conducted on a river section whose classification corresponds to the Level awarded (or higher).  For example a Level 3 certification may only be awarded after a candidate has been successfully assessed on a Class 3 rapid/river section.
  • Class 4/5 Certificates are discontinued and have been separated into Level 4 and Level 5.  Existing Class 4/5 certificates will be downgraded to Level 4 when they are renewed.   Assessors and current Class 4/5 Instructors are now only authorized to award certifications up to Level 4 (Class 4), and run practical assessments only on rapids/river sections up to class 4.   Level 5 certificates will not be awarded by Assessors or Instructors, but will only be awarded through an administration review process which includes a written recommendation by an IRF Instructor or Assessor, and documented proof of extensive experience on multiple class 5 rapids/river sections.
  • “Site Specific” Certificate. This certificate will be awarded in all cases where a candidate is experienced as a guide on a single river or section of river but has no documented guiding experience on other rivers of the same classification.  This new certificate will also replace the “Stadium Guide” certification for artificial courses.  For example, if a Zambezi river guide successfully completes an assessment conducted on the Zambezi river, but has no documented experience on other rivers of a similar classification, he/she will be awarded a Site Specific, Zambezi River certification.
  • “Provisional” Certificate: replacing trainee guide certificates and more, see definition in IRF Award System document.
  • Throwbag test.  The throwbag test as a minimum requirement for raft guide assessments has been updated.  Details of the new test procedure are found here.
  • To become an IRF GTE Assessor.  Assessment criteria.
  • Online GTE Database administration.  A modern online system for entering workshop data has been developed that will be ready for use soon (link will be placed here). All Assessors and Instructors will receive password access and be required to enter the details of their assessments and the candidates that they have certified directly into the online system.  All individuals that have been awarded an IRF certification of any type will have password protected access to keep their personal details up to date, and will receive automatic email renewal notifications.
  • Instructor Feedback Forms – being drafted (link will be placed here soon)
  • National/Regional Managed Certifications. The IRF has granted some national organizations the right to manage the GTE program within their country or region.  These rights are based on contract obligations and adherence to specific protocols, which in some cases allows the IRF GTE certification to be issued alongside a regional or national certification.  (link to these organizations will be placed here soon)
  • Involvement at IRF Raft Race Events – IRF Race Rules require that GTE certified personnel are members of the safety team at all major IRF sanctioned races.
  • Event Safety Certificates – To meet the above requirement, the IRF has created an Event Safety Technicians certification.  Protocols are being drawn up for obtaining an Instructor certification in this program.  (link will be placed here soon)
  • All GTE documents have been updated/changed (IRF GTE Award System V2.2). Instructors and Assessors are advised to get familiar with their changes BEFORE conducting your next assessment workshop.

If you receive emails from any of the IRF GTE appointed persons handling these issues please take note and respond accordingly.

These changes are being implemented so as to improve the GTE program and ensure it stays as the leading certification system internationally for all river users.