Having a diver license, also known as a certification card, is a pass to underwater adventure. It’s proof that an individual has undertaken a course to learn crucial skills, knowledge development, and practical experience in diving. A scuba license allows dive centers, resorts and liveaboards to quickly identify the skill level of a diver and allows the diver to prove the courses they have accomplished. Certification cards distinguish beginners from advanced divers, and recreational divers from PADI Pros.

In this article, we’ll cover how to get your own scuba license and how to quickly identify any PADI diving license.

hand holding four colorful padi certification cards fanned out

How to Obtain a Diver License

To get in on the ocean action and get your own diver license, you must undertake a PADI course! If you are at least 10 years old, able to swim, and in good physical health, you can enroll in a PADI Open Water Diver course.

There are two ways to begin your PADI Open Water Diver course – either with eLearning or instructor-led knowledge development. Next, you’ll complete the practical, in-water part of the Open Water Diver course with a PADI instructor in the destination of your choice – whether at a local dive shop, or on your next dive vacation. Once completed successfully, you’ll receive your very own scuba license.

A man holds up a PADI certification card showing a great white shark

What a Recreational Scuba License Looks Like

Firstly, the front of all PADI certification cards will have the PADI logo somewhere on the face. This may be a large central logo, or a smaller corner logo for some of the limited edition or PADI AWARE cards. Next, the top of the card will display the diver level, such as “Open Water Diver” or “Rescue Diver”.

There are also a few key features that all PADI recreational scuba certification cards possess on the rear-facing side:

  • The individual’s name
  • The individual’s diver number
  • The instructor number who issued the certification
  • The date of issue
  • A profile photo
  • The name of the dive center that issued the certification

Specialty Certification Cards

PADI offers a range of additional Specialty Courses divers can collect. The PADI Specialty certification cards follow the same rules as all recreational dive licenses above. Additionally, they will feature a title on the front face of the card with the name of the Specialty Course, such as “Specialty Diver Wreck Diver” or “Specialty Diver Underwater Naturalist“.

padi certification cards

What a Pro Scuba License Looks Like

It’s important to note that PADI Pro cards, such as the Divemaster or the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) certification cards, differ slightly. The front face will be either black or gold for Divemasters and OWSI’s and beyond unless the individual has chosen a limited edition PADI design on their certification card.

Next, the top of the card will display their diver level, such as “Divemaster”, “Open Water Scuba Instructor”, or “Master Scuba Diver Trainer”. Pro cards have less information on the rear side, but they will always include the name of the diver, and their diver number (often referred to as Instructor number for an OWSI or higher).

Now You Can Identify a Diving License with Ease!

From Open Water Diver to Specialty certifications and PADI Pro diver licenses, there’s a large collection of scuba licenses available. Remember to look out for the PADI logo, the certification level, and the diver or Instructor number!

Now that you know the key features of each, you can easily identify any PADI diving license when needed. If you’ve yet to obtain your own, start your Open Water Diver certification today!

Alternatively, if you’ve lost your PADI certification card and need to get a new one, click the button below to order a replacement.

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