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PADI Open Water Referral Course

PADI Open Water Referral Course

We do get some questions regarding the possibility of completing the referral course on an expedition with us. It involves several processes to successfully complete which can cause confusion for those who are not familiar with the diving industry and therefore this page is to help you understand how it works. Please note that this option is only available for participants who are joining us as a school group due to the extra planning and staffing demand.

In recent years, PADI has been moving over to a digital system for learning and processing certifications. As such, we are now only able to accept students to complete referral courses using the digital “eLearning” system. Please inform the dive centre you sign up to complete your initial training with that you require this type of referral only.

Jump to sections on this page

  • What is involved?
  • What will I need to bring on the expedition / have done before expedition?
  • What happens if I am not able to complete all the steps before I arrive on site?
  • Pros and Cons

What is involved?

In short, for the referral course, you will complete the theory and ‘confined water’ (training dives) at home, before completing your final open water dives on your expedition. This is broken down further below:

  • Theory

    Complete sections 1-5 of the PADI Open Water Diver eLearning, including: Knowledge Reviews 1-5, Quizzes 1-4, and the ‘Open Water Diver Exam’ – all of this will need to be completed at home before your expedition. You will still be required to either complete a “Quick review” or the ‘Open Water Diver Exam’ on your expedition to demonstrate that you have retained the knowledge from when you first completed the theory sections.

    Please note that some dive centres may only get you to do section 1 of the theory for your referral course, however you must have completed all 5 sections, quizzes, and the final exam to take part in the referral option during your expedition.

  • Confined Water Dive

    These are the training dives, where students will learn skills such as how to clear their mask of water and the safety procedures that must be followed when SCUBA diving. This training takes place in calm, shallow water such as a swimming pool or a calm outdoor environment. All 5 confined water dives must be completed prior to the expedition to take part in the referral course on your expedition.

  • Open Water Dives

    These are dives that occur out in the open ocean, where students will need to demonstrate the skills that they have learned in confined water to show that they can complete them in full diving conditions in deeper water.

    Please note that PADI will not allow you to complete the theory and training portions of the course more than 12 months before your Open water dives. If completing the initial training this far in advance, you may be required to get another dive medical as these are only valid for 12 months.

What will I need to bring on the expedition / have done before expedition?

  • Step 1

    Bring your “Training Record and Referral Form” – This is evidence that you have completed the initial training, and without this, we will not be able to continue the course. Once the theory and confined water dives have been completed, you must ensure that you are given/emailed this document.

  • Step 2

    Bring your “eLearning code” – You will then need to specify to your dive instructor that you require your eLearning code. This is what your instructor on your expedition will use to process your certification, without this we will not be able to view you on the PADI system and you will therefore not be permitted to join the course.

  • Step 3

    Upload a photo – You will need to have uploaded a suitable photo to your account on PADI.com. This is required for PADI to issue you with a certification card and without it you cannot attain your certification.

  • What happens if I am not able to complete all the steps before I arrive on site?

    There are quite a few boxes that need to be ticked for you to complete the last few dives on the expedition with us. If you arrive on site without the required training or without the proper documentation, you will not be allowed to join the referral group to complete your final open water dives and complete your certification. In this instance, if we have space in a group who are learning to dive, you may be permitted to join this group. However, as our supervision ratios are 4:1 per group, this may not be possible. It is more likely that there would be a space on a snorkelling group (as our supervision is 8:1), and you will not take part in SCUBA diving activities on your expedition.

  • Conclusion

    For school groups who are only on a marine site for a single week, the referral option can be a good way to get to complete your final training dives on your expedition, and then join in with the reef ecology course. Some students find it more of a challenge to remember the theory and skills they completed at home or may feel less confident in the water with a different instructor from whom they initially learned; however, others thoroughly enjoy the experience. There is a lot that needs to be done before you join an expedition, and if you are not able to complete all the required steps or do not bring all the documentation there is a chance you will not be able to dive on your expedition at all. There is also an associated extra cost that comes with doing most of the course at home. If you are not wanting to spend the whole week on the marine site learning to dive, it is worth looking into getting certified before coming out on you expedition, as you would then be able to complete the full reef ecology course on your marine week. In most places, it is also not much cheaper than completing the full open water course, so if you’re already thinking of completing most of it at home, why not tick off the last few dives and get fully certified before the trip!

  • Pros

    ( + ) You do not have to complete all the theory sessions on your expedition.

    ( + ) You will get to complete your final open water dives on your expedition.

    ( + ) You will get to join the reef ecology course for the remaining days of your marine week.

  • Cons

    ( – ) Students can feel a bit rusty at the skills they learned at home in “confined water”.

    ( – ) You will miss out on the first days of the reef ecology course whilst you complete your open water dives.

    ( – ) You are still required to demonstrate your theory on site and complete the exam again.

    ( – ) There is an extra cost associated with starting training at home, which does not get a discount on the cost of your Opwall trip.

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