Initiations are courses. Students must fulfil performance requirements before they can be certified in an initiation. The certification is added to the credentials for main certifications. There are no dedicated cards available for initiations. Since the certification process is simpler, the fees for registration of the certification are lower than for other courses.
The key difference between an initiation and “normal” courses is that some or all of the dives in open water may be combined with the course requirements for other courses (limitations apply to the night diving initiation). The actual intent of initiations is to provide a better introduction to local diving than a general diving course can offer. This makes it logical to practice the skills learned in the general course in the prevailing local conditions. Initiations provide the additional information and/or skill training to make this possible.
In that same logic, initiations are meant for traveling divers, introducing new activities and preparing for season changes. They provide a structured introduction to local diving circumstances, to new activities and to prepare for seasonal changes. Initiations are thus meant to introduce divers to the techniques needed to dive in certain circumstances whenever they become relevant. Such relevance can occur during a course, but can just as well be unrelated to general course participation.
The minimum age for participation in initiations is 10, with the exception of the Nitrox and Night initiations which require participants to be at least 12 years old.