Why become certified?

  • Be recognised as a leader in your industry with the only global certification programme for responsible whale and dolphin watching;


  • Our certification logo identifies you as a responsible operator to customers and tourism professionals;


  • Enjoy exclusive links with large tour operators wishing to raise their standards;


  • Have your business showcased on the WCA Responsible Whale Watching App;


  • Benefit from exclusive promotion through the WCA network, on social media and beyond;


  • Learn and share with a network of like-minded professionals from around the world;


  • Join the World’s largest marine conservation partnership owned and run by you – the Partners!

How much does it cost to become certified?

WCA Partnership fee


This one-off payment is your first step towards certification! It enables you to join the World Cetacean Alliance for a maximum of 12 months before completing the certification process. During this time you will have access to the support and guidance of the WCA to help you complete the certification process.


If you successfully complete the certification process within 12 months, we will refund your remaining membership fee to enable you to progress to the fee paying structure for certified operators of $1 per passenger.

WCA Partner fees (for 1 year)

Whale and Dolphin Watching Operator


Annual Income USD                Partnership Fee USD


Annual Income up to $70,000                       $200

Annual Income $70,000 to $200,000          $450

Annual Income $200,000 to $350,000        $650

Annual Income $350,000 to $650,000        $950
Annual Income more than $650,000           $1250

$1 per passenger


Once you have successfully completed the certification process, you will move to a fee paying structure of $1 dollar per passenger.

Where does the $1 per passenger fee go?

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25 % will be spent on international marketing and promotion of certified companies


25% will help support the WCA international projects


50% goes straight into regional pot of money that certified companies can apply for funding from

On-site audit

All certified whale watching companies are required to complete an on-site audit every 3 years, the certified company will need to pay for this audit. These will be conducted by specialist WCA trained whale watching auditors. We will endeavor to keep the costs low by training auditors from across the regions.

Responsible Whale Watching Criteria

The WCA Responsible Whale Watching Certification is based on the criteria outlined in the Global Best Practice Guidance for Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching.


These guidelines were created through an extensive consultation process that brought together the experience and expertise of scientists, governments, tourism professionals, tourists and those in the whale watching industry. The breadth of input has meant that the resulting guidance not only minimises the impact on cetaceans and benefits local community but is also practical for business owners.

Download the guidelines here

The WCA’s Responsible Whale Watching Certification Programme is the only global certification for whale and dolphin watching tourism. It represents the international standard for responsible whale watching, developed by the industry, for the industry.

The World Cetacean Alliance is the world’s largest network of experts on whale and dolphin watching. Our partners include whale watch tour operators, NGOs, scientists, and educators, all focused on respectful, responsible and sustainable whale watching tourism. Certification is based on our Global Guidelines for Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching, overseen by an international panel with specialist knowledge.

Customers of WCA certified responsible whale and dolphin watching tours can be confident they are travelling with the very best whale and dolphin watching experiences in the world! Not only do these tours operate with the utmost care for local wildlife, sustainability, and the customer experience, they also donate $1 of every ticket sold to whale and dolphin conservation and community awareness projects run locally and internationally.

Together we have the potential to reinvest millions of tourist dollars to protect our oceans. Why would you travel with anybody else?

3 steps to certification

We have created 3 simple steps to help whale watching companies become certified


1. Join as a WCA Partner: Joining the WCA partnership gives you access to the support and guidance needed to help you complete your Remote Audit. The fee you pay to become a Partner provides you with logo branding and also covers the Remote Audit administration fee!


2. Read our global guidelines – packed full of supporting info!


3. Complete the remote audit and press submit: You will need to complete a remote audit within 12 months of becoming a WCA Partner. Provided that you successfully complete the remote audit you will officially become a certified operator (and retain the benefits of being a partner).


*Certified companies are reassessed annually and receive an on-site audit every three years.
Complete step 1 by becoming a Partner now!

For further information contact: 


Elizabeth Cuevas, Whale Watching Programme Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1273 355011

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