The Universal Referral Program (URP) is a customer-oriented program designed to facilitate completion of open water training for students who travel for their training dives. According to a recent Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Training Bulletin, PADI instructors can accept students with Universal Referral Program paperwork.
In the Training Bulletin, issued second quarter of 2003, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors clarified that PADI instructors can: "complete the open water dives as outlined in the Universal guidelines and send the diver back to the original instructor for certification."
The bulletin further stated that PADI insurance offered through Vicencia and Buckley covers the receiving PADI instructor for Universal Referral open water training. According to PADI, members can look on the Member website for complete details or contact an educational consultant for additional information.
The member organizations of the Universal Referral Program would like to extend their sincere appreciation to PADI for clarifying the policy, and to encourage all PADI instructors to take advantage it.
PADI instructors should register with a Universal Referral Program member organization as a URP instructor. Registration involves reviewing procedures, skills, standards and paperwork. In addition, the instructor’s active status and current insurance is verified. It is an inexpensive and easy process that provides liability protection and marketability for the instructor.
"Referrals are a huge segment of the recreational diving business, and the Universal Referral Program was developed to address the need" said Gary Clark, director of marketing for SSI. "The perception in the field was that PADI instructors were not allowed to register with the Universal Referral Program, which apparently wasn’t the case. This is good news for resorts because the travel market is soft, and they need referral business from every agency."
The Universal Referral Program was founded in 1998 by IDEA, NASDS, NAUI, PDIC, SSI and YMCA. The URP established referral paperwork, procedures and a minimum list of agreed upon skills to be performed. A team of experienced educators, risk managers and attorneys developed the program, based on industry training standards. URP enrollment procedures and instructor qualifications are outlined in the URP program and managed by each respective training agency.
For information about the Universal Referral Program, please visit, or contact any member organization.