The following information is a synopsis of the requirements of the Directive. It is not an area in which we currently offer advice but you may find some useful links here.

Recreational Craft directive


The Recreational Craft Directive (2013/53/EU ) was publised on the 28th December 2013 and includes the changes brought by the New Legislative Framework. It is a CE marking directive which sets out a uniform level of safety in the design and manufacture of recreational craft throughout the European Economic Area. It covers craft to be used for sporting and recreational purposes with hull lengths between 2.5 and 24 metres (with some specific exclusions), as well as certain items of equipment.

The directive contains both administrative and protective requirements for recreational craft. The administrative requirements included marking with the CE logo, a declaration of conformity and a technical file. The directive also lays out requirements for type testing and quality control procedures. The protection requirements are dealt with in depth and organized under 30 headings.

It is important to check the interpretation of this directive in each country where the craft will be sold, as its implementation into national regulations can differ.

Purpose and application

The Recreational Craft Directive has been introduced by the The European Commission to ensure a uniform level of safety in the design and manufacture of recreational craft throughout the European Economic Area.

The Directive applies to all craft intended to be used for sporting and recreational purposes with a hull length of between 2.5 and 24 metres. Certain particular items of equipment are also covered, including ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive engines; start-in-gear protection devices for outboard engines; steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies; fuel tanks and fuel hoses and prefabricated hatches and portlights.

History and timescale

The original Recreational Craft Directive, 94/25/EC, was enacted in 1994, came into force on 16 June 1996 and had a transition period which ended on 15 June 1998.

In 2003, the Commission introduced an amendment, 2003/44/EC, which was intended to bring jet ski type craft into the scope of the Directive and to introduce new requirements for noise and engine exhaust emissions. 2003/44/EC also lays out a timetable for the consideration of further modification to the Directive, which may include additional safety and environmental performance measures as well as changes to the system of conformity attestation. The Commission is due to bring proposals in this regard to the Parliament by the end of 2007.


There are also certain specific exclusions from the Directive. The Directive does not apply to:

  • craft intended solely for racing
  • canoes, kayaks, gondolas and pedaloes
  • surfboards and sailboards
  • historical replicas
  • submersibles
  • hovercraft and hydrofoils
  • craft intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes (these are covered by another directive)
  • craft built for use by the builder are also excluded from the Directive provided they are not subsequently placed on the market for at least five years.
Administrative requirements

The Directive has both administrative and protection requirements. The administration requirements are that the product be marked with the CE logo, and that the manufacturer compile a file of technical information. In the case of complete craft or hulls, this file is to include test reports or calculations demonstrating that the craft has adequate stability in the anticipated sea conditions. The manufacturer also has to complete a Declaration of Conformity.

The Directive also lays down requirements for self certification by the manufacturer of the craft, or for type testing by a notified body and/or quality control procedures. These are set out in a series of 'modules' and are based on the size of the craft, the sea conditions it is intended to be used in and whether any of the appropriate harmonized standards have been used when designing it.

Protection requirements

The Directive lays out the essential requirements of recreational craft in some depth. Again, these are based upon the conditions for which the craft has been designed to be used.

In all there are thirty separate headings under which safety requirements are listed. These include requirements for marking, stability, fire protection, gas equipment, engine protection and many other items. Some are already the subject of harmonized standards, while others have standards in preparation.

The Single Market

While in theory The Treaty of Rome should ensure that legislation governing CE marked products is the same across the whole of the EEA, the reality is that the regulations implementing and enforcing the Directives are drafted individually in each member state and do sometimes interpret the Directives differently.

A good example of this in relation to the RCD can be found in connection with the importing of used craft into the EEA. While the authorities in the UK have ruled that it is not possible for used craft to conform with the Directive even though they do have to be CE marked (see section titled “Special Note Regarding Used Craft”) Conformance have been led to believe that the authorities in some other EEA countries may allow this because they interpret the Directive differently.

It is important, therefore, to check the interpretation of the Directive in every country in which a product is to be marketed. Complying with the regulations of one Member State does not automatically guarantee compliance in others, and it does not ensure against interference from other responsible authorities or even from prosecution.

Further information

The Royal Yachting Association provides CE marking services under the RCD and has quite a lot of useful information in the technical section of their web site.

Another useful resource for the Directive is the Recreational Boat Building Industry who have a web page with lots of useful information.

The European Commission have a web page with links to lists of standards harmonised under the directive, and also a guidance document.

boats.txt · Last modified: 2018/06/04 10:50 by Sarah Hall
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