What is a "Referral" ?

Referrals are an important component of diver training. Thousands of students obtain their certification cards annually through the student referral process.

Many retailers and instructors refer students to referral locations to complete their open water training requirements when local training is not feasible or desirable. Some dive businesses refer nearly half of their students.

While most referrals are conducted between Instructors in the same Dive Agency (PADI-to-PADI, NAUI-to-NAUI, SDI-to-SDI, et cetera) it is quite common to accept Global or Universal Referrals from different Instructors at a different Agency.

Scuba Steve has been approved to accept ALL types of referrals … including the following:

  • PADI

  • NAUI

  • SDI


  • SSI

  • IDEA

The end result is that the student will receive a certification card from the original Agency, upon successful completion of the course.

Referrals are the process in which a student diver that has completed part of his training at a local dive center can complete training at a different location with a different instructor, often to change a vacation into a diving adventure.

When given a choice between the cold, dark waters of the Northwest coastal seas or rock quarries in the Mid-west …. or the warm, tropical waters of Kauai … which would YOU choose?

What steps do I need to follow?

That depends on the type of referral:

  • PADI to PADI - when the student's previous training was part of a PADI Open Water or Scuba Diver course conducted by a PADI Instructor and will result in a PADI certification after he successfully completes the balance of his training with you.

  • There is also another type of referral, "Universal" or "Global" Referrals -when the student's previous training was part of a course conducted by an instructor from an organization other than PADI and will result in a certification by the original instructor's organization after he successfully completes the open water dives conducted by you.

  • The student will be given a Universal Referral Form and Packet to give to us. PADI Referrals are valid for 12 months after completion of the last class or dive, while Global and Universal Referrals are good for 30 days after being issued by your Instructor.


It's important to consider that as a student diver you may know very little about training Standards, training methods or procedures. You are in the hands of two experts at either end of the referral process: your Instructor and the Instructor completing the balance of your training.

By following a few simple guidelines, your Instructor can help you feel comfortable with the process and confident that both your Instructor and the receiving Instructor are working together to help you meet your goal of earning open water diver certification.


Explain to you that only successfully completed Knowledge Development, Confined Water Dives and Open Water Dives may be credited in a referral

Keep your PADI or Universal Referral Open Water Diver Course Record and Referral Form up-to-date.

Before sending a copy of it to you to take to the next instructor, your Instructor should double check to be sure there are no missing signatures, dates, etc.

Your Instructor will also emphasize to you that the referral is only valid for a maximum of either 12 months from the date of the last training session (for PADI Referrals) or 30 days from date of issuance (for Global and Universal Referrals) and that the balance of the course should be completed as soon as possible. Your Instructor may also discuss with you what to expect upon referral, including that an extra cost may be involved,that there will be a pre-assessment and if a medical release was required, you will need to bring a copy for PADI, only the instructor completing the open water training can complete the PIC envelope and be the certifying instructor. (He might show you a PIC envelope so you can recognize it.)

A photo will be needed for the PIC envelope and only a PADI Instructor may complete your open water dives for PADI certification,but it will be your original Instructor who will actually sign off on your certification card (for Universal or Global Referrals), once you have successfully completed the referral process.


As the receiving instructor, we must verify that the student has adequate knowledge and skills to safely and effectively participate in open water training and remediate as necessary, before conducting any of the training dives.


We will conduct your Referral Open Water Dives in strict accordance to the Guidelines and Standards that have been set forth by your Referring Agency.


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