GTE Certification Requirements, Processes and Fees

1. Guide Training & Education (GTE) Award System

The GTE Award was created to provide commercial operators, industry organisations, national rafting federations, government regulators and other interested parties worldwide with a common standard for whitewater professionals. The GTE system is managed by the International Rafting Federation (IRF) through the GTE Committee under authority of section 47 of the IRF Bylaws. The system was first developed in 2001 and has been revised several times since that date.

The full system is set out in detail in the document IRF GTE Award System. Below are some summaries and key sections of the GTE Award System.

The content headings in the GTE Award System are:
    • GTE Award Purpose
    • Minimum Requirements
    • Award Fee Structure
      • IRF GTE Assessment Fees (payable to the IRF)
      • Instructor Fees (payable to your Instructor)
    • Definitions
    • Designations
      • Certification Types
      • Certification Restrictions
      • Administrative Levels
    • Certification Renewal Requirements
    • GTE Award Structure
    • Assessment and Renewal Criteria

2. Certification types

The IRF has a number of certification awards available:

    • Raft Guide
    • Whitewater Guide
    • Safety Rafter
    • Safety Kayaker
    • Event Safety Technician
    • Raft Trip Leader
    • Whitewater Trip Leader
    • Instructor
    • Instructor Trainer

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 to be met prior to the assessment.

The type of award as well as the requirements are all detailed in the IRF GTE Award System.

Your IRF Award will be valid for a period of three years from the assessment date when supported by a current, valid, IRF approved First Aid certificate Please see the requirements below:

  • Raft Guide, Whitewater Guide, Safety Kayak, Event Safety 1 & 2: Standard First Aid certificate (minimum course duration 8 hours, must include CPR).
  • Trip Leaders (all certification types), Event Safety 3, Instructors, Instructor Trainers: Advanced First Aid certificate (minimum course duration 16 hours, must include CPR).
  • The certificate must show the dates of when the course was taken which must be no longer than 3 years old.
  • IRF GTE does not accept First Aid certificates that are valid for more than 3 years or were 100% on-line First Aid courses.
  • A copy of the card or certificate must be provided as proof and must ideally where possible be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the assessment date

3. Certification Award fees – as of 01 February 2020 (payable to IRF)

IRF GTE Certification Fees (All certifications and renewals are valid for 3 years)
Guide Certification $40.00 USD
Trip Leader Certification$70.00 USD
Instructor Certification$130.00 USD
Guide or Trip Leader Certification Renewal$30.00 USD
Instructor Certification Renewal$0.00 USD
Annual Surcharge to Renew Expired Certification$10.00 USD per year expired plus above renewal fees
Replacement certificate$10.00 USD

Where candidates receive multiple assessments or renewals 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$40.00 USD + $15.00 USD = $55.00 USD
Trip Leader AND Safety Kayaker Certification $70.00 USD + $15.00 USD = $85.00 USD
Trip Leader AND Safety Kayaker Certification RENEWAL$30.00 USD + $15.00 USD = $45.00 USD

GTE fees can be paid using our online secure card processing (debit or credit card) or via PayPal. Links to each are below:

GTE guide and trip leader renewals

Options to include your multiple GTE qualifications and any late renewal fees

Custom payments

Instructors can pay for multiple candidates on assessments or other custom payments.

Contact GTE Administration for a custom payment link

Pay any amount using:

4. Certificates and cards

All certified candidates will be sent an e-certificate which includes a card. Please ensure you send the following to your Instructor:

  • a digital passport style photograph
  • your date of birth

Once GTE Administration has received all the requirements from your Instructor, including payment, your certificate/card will then be processed and emailed to you.

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

5. Certification renewal

All certifications expire three (3) years after issue. Renewal of certification requires proof that the requirements listed in the Assessment and Renewal Criteria chart have been satisfied, and payment of the relevant renewal fee shown in the Award Fee Structure chart.

Renewals made more than six (6) months after the expiration date are required to pay an additional $10.00 USD late renewal fee for each year that the certification was expired.

This must be done through your certifying Instructor (or contact GTE Administration). 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.

There is no renewal fee for active Instructors if renewal requirements are completed within six (6) months after expiration. Instructors must have attended an Instructor Workshop or Conference within the past three (3) years.

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.

Further renewal details can be found on our dedicated GTE renewal page.

6. Instructor costs (payable to Instructors)

Instructors and Instructor Trainers normally require a payment to compensate for their time and expense in providing the assessment. These costs are set by the Instructor or Instructor Trainer 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.

7. Regional Instructor Trainers

Regional Instructor Trainers are appointed to oversee all Instructors who conduct workshops within a specific region. Read more about the duties, disciplinary procedures and ethics for traveling instructors.

8. Instructor Certification process and renewal


Instructor Trainers are required to be rigorous and meticulous when assessing Instructor candidates to ensure that all Instructors are conforming to 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.

New Instructors

Instructor Trainers shall award newly certified Instructor candidates with Provisional Instructor status. Provisional Instructors must pass through a mentoring process under the supervision of their certifying Instructor Trainers or Regional Instructor Trainers before they obtain full Instructor status. Provisional Instructors may only conduct workshops while being observed / assisted by an Instructor Trainer until which time the Instructor Trainer 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, within a period of 3 years, all Instructors must conduct a minimum of two  relevant GTPs and two relevant assessments; as well as conducting or attending a workshop that is overseen by an Instructor Trainer, or participate in a GTE conference. They must also be physically capable of demonstrating all skills being taught or assessed; and hold a current Advanced First Aid Certificate or higher. 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.

9. Site Specific Certificate

A person who has been awarded a Site Specific certification is restricted to operate only at the site specifically named on the award. 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.

Site Specific locations are whitewater areas that rarely change in volume or flow characteristics, such as a dam-controlled river or an artificially constructed whitewater venue. At such locations, it is possible for a Guide to perform competently by memorising the run rather than by developing river reading skills.

Site Specific certifications are not given a Level designation, but instead a specific site is named on the certification. Site Specific awards are valid only at the named site, and only when the conditions are equal to those that are normally encountered at the named site.

10. Instructor material

A large number of documents and forms have been produced and set up for Instructors to use when running assessments and also for running courses – these can be found under Instructors Resources (password protected contact GTE Admin or Mark Hirst for password).

11. Document links

12. Further information

If you have any additional questions about the IRF Guide Training and Education System ask your Instructor. Alternatively, contact the IRF GTE Secretary. If your question is more of an administrative nature contact GTE Administration.