Firstly a preface: all training's good and especially overhead training where the environment's so unforgiving. Plus lots of practice.

Where around the world are dive locations where you must have the cave diving certifications to dive? For example in Mexico or Florida.

What level are these requirements, if any, what is the legal status of these qualifications?

N.B. "Must have" meaning that you can't access the site without showing a card to the "guardian of the site" or it's an actual legal requirement. For most places around the world there's no such thing; you can just jump in and take responsibility for your own actions, i.e. you're suitably trained and experienced for the dive being planned.

  • Do you mean "must have the cave diving certifications to dive in a cave" or "must have the cave diving certifications to dive anywhere"? Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 22:39
  • There are many places around the world that are restricted to experienced overhead divers only. Many of these require personal invitation, or at the very least proof of skills and be known to the controlling club or association, sometimes attending a course and demonstrating skills. These controls would be in place to protect that environment, prevent damage to scientifically significant locations and possibly prevent the demise of the unwary. For some controlled locations, it may be possible to pay an experienced guide to get the best from the dive (a good idea anyway).
    – GlennG
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 19:40

3 Answers 3


Straight up the Answer is almost certainly NO, since unless there is some way of restricting access to a site, any person can put on dive gear and go dive without any experience/training. I am not aware of any countries with laws prohibiting scuba diving in any form except for reward (commercial gain).

The more acceptable answer is, whenever you enter any overhead environment most divers/dive clubs/dive schools will require you to have appropriate training and experience. In the Light Zone, which is defined as linear 40m taking depth and penetration distance into account, the requirements are less strict and less enforced.

There are several organizations teaching Cave diving courses and they normally offer a few levels depending on how far you wish to penetrate and the time you will spend underwater. On a basic level you will have a Cavern course(lightzone), Basic Cave and Advanced Cave course. But there are many variations and add on courses, like using underwater propulsion vehicles, decompression diving, etc.

All over the world you will find interesting overhead diving that requires more advanced training, if this is something that interest you speak to people that knows the areas you are interested in and that knows cave diving.

Some dive boats/tours/centres will have their own requirements based on local laws/recommendations/experience, so as ever check before you go! (Aravona)

(Let me just add that there are people doing dives on their own without training and without building up their experience gradually, this is not something I recommend at all. Many divers have lost their lives doing dives past their limits and their knowledge/experience. Spend the time to find a good instructor and learn the theory, the skills/drills and do the dives gradually. In the end you will be safer and have more fun.)

Wikipedia has a good section on cave diving and lists a number of cave diving spots all over the world. WIKIPEDIA - CAVE DIVING

  • 2
    +1 - would add that some dive boats/tours/centres will have their own requirements based on local laws/recommendations, so as ever check before you go!
    – Aravona
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:15
  • 1
    There's a bunch of different 'qualifications' run by various agencies. Generally there's a introductory Cavern level within the "light zone"; a junior and full cave certification (to dive to thirds, lines, jumps, etc.); then the various advanced cave levels including deco stage diving, DPV, CCR, etc.
    – GlennG
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 10:32
  • How can the answer to "Where ...?" be "No"? Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 17:04

Most caves and mines in Germany require a cave certification, and I assume they are all privately owned and locked.


  • Also heard the same for Belgium where most are 'closed', particularly the mines, and you need club affiliation to access.
    – GlennG
    Commented May 17, 2020 at 15:05

Late to the party, but whatever.

There are sites in Australia that are on very well-known but enclosed private property. The only way you can physically access those sites, is by knowing the local protocols.

For example, at one site, you have to park outside a farmer’s house - keeping off his carefully manicured grass! - knock on the back door (not front door), show him your card, and get the key, before you can access the paddock containing the site.

There’s another site (Tank Cave) that is actually owned by the Cave Diving Association of Australia (CDAA). The entrance to that site is protected by a locked grate, which is only unlocked by an authorised CDAA officer, for pre-booked CDAA members, at the start of each diving day.

In such cases, if you don’t have the right certification, you can’t even access the sites - let alone dive them.

There are other sites (in the same areas as those above) that need you to present your qualifications, and pay a fee, to a government authority. There’s nothing to physically stop you diving most of those sites, but there’s a ranger who sometimes drives around and checks people out. Not sure what would happen if he found unauthorised people diving them!

In summary, all of this is clearly country and site dependent. There might be a publicly accessible site, that any unqualified random person could dive - 50 meters away from a private site, that only properly qualified people could even get physical access to.


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