I'm currently in a French overseas territory, and almost all of the dive centres and clubs here use the CMAS system. Whenever I've booked in for a dive, the dive centre has looked at my PADI qualifications, asked a few questions, and put me into an appropriate dive group for the day. They seem to have always put me into the right group, so they at least seem to know the equivalence!

However, when I've been chatting with other divers (non-instructors) before and after dives, they've not known how to match my PADI level to their CMAS one, and nor have I for the reverse. This has made it tricky for us to recommend other dive sites to each other, especially ones in different countries, as we haven't known if the standard would be suitable or not.

Is there a well known approximate equivalence between the PADI and CMAS qualification levels?

2 Answers 2


Here is a quick reference :

CMAS                         PADI Equivalent
CMAS 1 Star Diver            Open Water Diver
CMAS 2 Star Diver            Rescue Diver
(with verification of Night and Navigation dive)     
CMAS 3 Star Diver            Divemaster or IDC Candidate
CMAS 1 Star Instructor       IDC Candidate
CMAS 2 Star Instructor       IDC Candidate

Source: IDC Guide


The easiest way to compare diving qualifications is to look at the ISO standards: International Standards

The International Organization for Standardization has approved six recreational diving standards that may be implemented worldwide (January 2007).

The listed standards developed by the (United States) RSTC are consistent with the applicable ISO Standards:

(USA) RSTC Standard              ISO Standard           Alternative ISO Title

Introductory Scuba Experience    No equivalent
No equivalent                    Level One Diver        Supervised Diver
Open Water Diver                 Level Two Diver        Autonomous Diver
Dive Supervisor                  Level Three Diver      Dive Leader
Assistant Instructor             Level 1 Instructor
Scuba Instructor                 Level 2 Instructor
Instructor Trainer               No equivalent
No equivalent                    Service Provider

Here is a table format of various diving certifications compared: List of Qualifications compared

  • 1
    Can you add some context to this in case the links disappear in future? Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 8:43
  • Will do. I just do not like replication of data/code/information :-D
    – AquaAlex
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 10:59
  • mmmm ok so tables do not work, how can I create table structure?
    – AquaAlex
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 11:06
  • 2
    Screenshot the table and upload as an image? Or do what @AM_Hawk did.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 11:07
  • 1
    You shouldn't use HTML tables on SE sites, they don't format well.
    – user2766
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 11:28

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