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New rules for boaters to be aware of

This article was prepared for MBY by the DTI, who are keen to raise awareness and understanding of the RCD and the lastest changes affecting it.

The Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) is designed to protect the boat buyer, enable freedom of movement of goods, has applied since June 1998 to all boats offered for sale between 2.5 and 24 metres in length, and is applicable throughout the EU and EEA. It covers all the essential aspects of a boat’s design and construction, with the emphasis on safety and Is definitely in the consumer’s interest.

On January 1st 2007 the last phase of a new Amending Directive came into effect, extending the scope of the original directive to limit boat and engine sound and exhaust emissions, include personal water craft, and update some original regulations. These only apply to new boats and engines. Existing engines, including 2-stroke engines, can continue to be used until the end of their life, when a new replacement engine must comply with the RCD.

A new relaxation is the facility to import a used boat from outside the EU using ‘Post Construction Assessment’ rules.
If you are planning to buy a new boat at one of the winter boat shows, or a used craft placed on the market after June 1998, check that the following are in order: The boat should have a builder’s plate with a CE mark; a craft identification number, and an owner’s manual which should include a declaration of conformity.

If you should buy a boat that does not comply, then you will have difficulty selling it, however satisfactory its performance may be.
Craft which need not comply include those already in use in EEA waters before 16th June 1998, any craft under 2.5m or over 24m, and any craft on the list of exemptions, such as canoes, racing boats, historic craft, and hovercraft.

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You can get further information on the RCD from the Department of Trade and Industry (, or from the RYA (

Hampshire County Council’s website has a comprehensive set of plain language information at (search using “RCD”). RYA and British Marine Federation run a RCD document download site should you want to study the regulations in depth (


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