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Frequently asked questions


General Questions
1. What environmental requirements apply to recreational craft?

Annex I.B and I.C of the Recreational Craft Directive contain the requirements concerning exhaust and noise emissions. For exhaust emissions (carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particle emissions, which affect both human health and the environment), limit values are fixed, depending on the engine type (two-stroke spark ignition, four-stroke spark ignition, or compression ignition). Limit values for noise emissions depend on single engine power.

In addition §5.8 of Annex I.A contains specific requirements with regard to discharge prevention and installations facilitating the delivery ashore of waste.

2. What documents must accompany a recreational craft when it is placed on the market in the EU?

Every recreational craft placed on the market in the EU must be accompanied with a written declaration of conformity, including data on the product and the manufacturer. This declaration must also be included in the owner's manual, which shall also contain information on certain essential requirements related to the builder's plate, the recommended maximum load, handling characteristics and risks of fire and flooding.

3. What essential safety requirements do recreational craft to comply with?

Annex I.A to the Recreational Craft Directive contains the essential safety requirements to be complied with, including - amongst others - integrity and structural requirements (for instance regarding stability, flotation or means of escape), handling characteristics and installation requirements (for example regarding fuel tank insulation or fire-fighting equipment). Each craft placed on the market must be certified to be in compliance with these safety and other requirements specified in the Directive.

4. What kind of fire-fighting equipment is required on recreational crafts?

The essential requirements on fire-fighting equipment for recreational craft can be found in § 5.6.2 of Annex I.A of the Recreational Craft Directive. They specify that craft must be supplied with fire-fighting equipment appropriate to the fire hazard, or that the position and capacity of fire-fighting equipment appropriate to the fire hazard shall be indicated. The craft shall not be put into service until the appropriate fire-fighting equipment is in place.

Petrol engine enclosures shall be protected by a fire extinguishing system that avoids the need to open the enclosure in the event of fire. Where fitted, portable fire extinguishers shall be readily accessible and one shall be so positioned that it can easily be reached from the main steering position of the craft.

5. What kinds of boats fall under the category "recreational craft"?

The category "recreational craft" includes any boat of any type intended for sports and leisure purposes of hull length from 2.5m to 24m, measured according to harmonized standard, regardless of the means of propulsion.

6. What's the difference between the shipbuilding sector and the recreational crafts sector?

The difference between these two sectors lies in the type of boats and the type of EU legislation introduced to regulate them. The shipbuilding sector includes container ships, product/chemical tankers and LNG carriers. The EU action in this sector is mainly soft law, such as recommendations, reports and studies. On the other side, the recreational crafts sector includes boats of 2,5 to 24m hull lengths designed for leisure or sport. This sector is regulated by EU legislation, which stipulates the safety, environmental and administrative obligations that need to be respected by products to be placed on the EU market.

7. Have there been any amendments to the Directive since 2003 (when Directive 94/25/EC was amended by Directive 2003/44/EC)?

The Directive on Recreational Craft 94/25/EC was amended in 2003 by Directive 2003/44/EC. Since then, no new amendment has been introduced.

However, the Directive is currently undergoing a revision. In the view of this forthcoming amendment, several preparatory studies were carried out on the possibility to further reduce noise and exhaust emissions. The reports from these studies are publicly available on this page.

8. What kinds of requirements does the Recreational Craft Directive establish?

The Recreational Craft Directive establishes:

- Safety Requirements for the design and construction of craft

- Requirements for exhaust emissions from propulsion engines

- Requirements for noise emissions from propulsion engines

9. Are only boats concerned by the Directive?

Actually, no. Unlike the name of the Directive might suggest, the Recreational Craft Directive concerns recreational boats, personal watercraft, partly completed boats and engines destined for use on recreational craft (for exhaust emissions requirements and noise emissions requirements only). Obviously, these are just general categories and there are exemptions. Please go to Question 21 for examples of exemptions from the Directive.

10. What shall somebody do if he/she wants to sell a recreational boat in the EU?

The first thing to determine is whether the boat / engine you want to place on the EU/EEA market is subject to the Directive on Recreational Craft. If it is subject to this Directive, your boat should comply with the requirements of the Directive (in terms of general safety requirements of the craft, exhaust emissions, and noise emissions requirements). These requirements are laid down in Directive 94/25/EC as amended by Directive 2003/44/EC.

 The important requirements that the manufacturer must fulfil before placing his craft on the EU/EEA market are:

- The manufacturer should CE-mark the craft to prove that it complies with the Directive.

- The manufacturer should establish a declaration of conformity.

- The manufacturer should provide an owner's manual.

- The boat should also bear a builder's plate (which includes the CE Mark)

- And the boat should also have a Craft Identification Number.

 The directive is accessible here.

To know more about the scope of the directive (whether your boat is subject to the directive or not), please look at Questions 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.

For questions regarding the Declaration of Conformity, please go to questions 22 and 23.

To learn more about the CE Marking, please go to Question 24.

11. In which countries does the Recreational Craft directive apply?

The Recreational Craft Directive applies in all EU 27 Member States along with countries which are members of the European Economic Area, that is to say Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

12. What are the different categories of craft mentioned in the Directive?

 The Recreational Craft Directive distinguishes between 4 kinds of craft, which are: A. Ocean; B. Offshore; C. Inshore and D. Sheltered waters.

The definitions of each of these categories are laid down in Annex I.A.1 of the Recreational Craft Directive, accessible here.

Scope of the Directive
13. Is my boat subject to the Recreational Craft Directive?

Different criteria must be taken into account in order to determine whether your craft falls into the scope of the Recreational Craft Directive:

- The size of the craft: only boats whose size is comprised between 2.5 meters and 24 meters are concerned by the Directive

- The intended use of the craft: The Directive only affects boats that are intended for sports and leisure activities.  

- The date of the placing of the craft on the EU/EEA Market: this date must be posterior to the date of the entry into force of the Directive in the Member States (which was 16 June 1996 for Directive 94/25/EC). Boats which were already on the EU/EEA market at this date do not need to comply with the requirements of the Recreational Craft Directive.

14. Does my boat still need to comply with the requirements of the Recreational Craft Directive even though it is old?

The answer to this question actually does not depend on the age of the boat or on how old the boat is but rather on the date at which the boat was first placed on the EU/EEA market.

Indeed, boats should only comply with the requirements of Directive 94/25/EC if they were placedon the market or put into service after the date of application of Directive 94/25/EC, which was 16 January 1996.

The same is true for Directive 2003/44/EC. Only boats and engines placed on the market after the entry into force of Directive 2003/44/EC shall comply with the requirements of that directive. This means for instance that engines should comply with exhaust emissions requirements and noise emissions requirements of Directive 2003/44/EC if the date of their first placing on the market or first putting into service is posterior to the date of entry into force of Directive 2003/44/EC which was 1 January 2005 (please note that for some categories of engines, transitional periods were set, and the date of entry into force of the Directive was pushed back to 31 December 2005 and 31 December 2006 for two-stroke spark ignition engine).

To learn more about the notion of "placing on the market" please go to Question 33.

15. What about second-hand boats? Are they also subject to the Recreational Craft Directive?

The answer to that question also depends on the date at which the craft was first placed on the EU/EEA market.

It is important to note that "the age" of the boat has nothing to see with whether the boat will be subject to the Directive or not: the craft will only be subject to the Directive as long as it has been placed on the EU/EEA market after the date of application of the Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC, which is 16 June 1996.

If the boat was placed on the EU/EEA market before 16 June 1996, then the boat is not bound by this Directive.

The same is true for the requirements of Directive 2003/44/EC: these requirements will only be applicable to a boat if this boat was placed on the market or put into service after the date of entry into force of the Directive (1 January 2005).

For more information on the notion of "placing on the market", please see Question 33.

Please note that if you own a boat which was placed on the market after 1996, that you wish to sell it and do not have the Declaration of Conformity for this boat, you should undertake a post construction assessment. For more information on post construction assessment, please go to Question 28.

16. What if I built or assembled the craft on my own? Is the craft still subject to the Directive in that case?

The answer to that question depends on whether the home-builder is using the boat for his own pleasure or whether he intends to sell the boat.

If somebody built an entire boat on his/her own and is only using this boat for his own pleasure, then this person does not need to comply with the requirements of the Directive on Recreational Craft ( Article 1.2.(a) (vii) and Article 1.2 (c)).

If the home-built craft is sold or placed on the EU/EEA market in a period of 5 years that follows its first use by the home-builder (and was therefore only used for the home-builder's own pleasure for a period of less than 5 years) then, the home-builder should comply with the requirements of the Directive and is therefore responsible for affixing the CE marking on it and for establishing a Declaration of Conformity.

If the home-builder decides to sell the boat after having used it for his own pleasure for at least 5 years then the craft does not need to comply with the requirements of the Directive.

For more information, please go to this webpage to access the Application Guide to the Recreational Craft Directive (link at the very bottom of the page).

17. Do partly completed boats also need to comply with the requirements of the Recreational Craft Directive?

Partly completed boats are in a particular situation with regard to the requirements of the Recreational Craft Directive. Partly completed boats are regulated by Article 4.2 and Annex III (a) of the Directive.

A priori, partly completed boats should also be CE marked (just as any other boats). However, the Directive (Article 4.2) specifies that the CE marking does not apply if the partly completed boat is declared, in accordance with Annex III (a) of the Directive, to be completed by others.

Through this declaration of the builder that the boat will be completed by others and that it complies with the essential requirements that apply at this stage of construction, partly completed boats may circulate freely on the market, without being CE marked. 

Nevertheless, there is an exception to this statement: boats designed to be operated in conjunction with an outboard motor or that may be fitted with such a unit should not be considered as partly completed boats and should be CE-marked to benefit from free circulation on the EU/EEA market.

18. What about craft or engines intended for professional use? Do they fall under the scope of the directive?

No.

Article 1.1.(b)(i) of the Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC amended by 2003/44/EC states that the Directive shall apply to: "propulsion engines which are installed or specifically intended for installation on or in recreational craft and personal watercraft;"

Moreover, the Application Guide to the Directive mentions that "the exhaust emission requirements apply only to engines installed or specifically intended for installation for propulsion of the recreational craft or personal watercraft. An engine installed or intended for installation to be used exclusively as an on-board generator, for example, is therefore outside of the scope of this Directive.

Note that the requirement applies only to propulsion engines that are intended for installation on recreational craft, and therefore such engines that are intended only for use on commercial craft are excluded from the scope of this Directive (for example, outboard engines used only for rescue or patrol craft).

Therefore, if the craft or the outboard engines are intended for professional use, they do not fall under the scope of the Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC.

To access the Application Guide to the Recreational Craft Directive, please click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. 

19. Is it possible to change a recreational craft into a passenger ship? Which directive would apply to such boat?

A passenger ship carrying more than 12 passengers is normally subject to Directive 98/18/EC on Safety Rules and Standards for passenger ships, provided that it does not fall under one of the excluded categories (e.g. ship not propelled by mechanical means, i.e. sailing ship, or a ship constructed from materials other than steel or equivalent).

Ships subject to Directive 98/18/EC have to comply with a whole range of requirements in terms of construction, machinery and electrical installations, fire protection and prevention, minimum number of life saving appliances on board.

For more information on Directive 98/18/EC (amended by Directives 2003/24/EC and 2003/25/EC) on Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships, please have a look at this webpage from DG TREN's website (Transport and Energy).

20. What about components of craft, like steering wheels? Should they also comply with the Directive?

Annex II of the Recreational Craft Directive (Directive 94/25/EC as amended by Directive 2003/44/EC) lays down a list of components which include steering wheels, fuel tanks, hatches, protection devices for outboard engines, etc. which are subject to the Directive.

As a consequence, such components which are put on the EU/EEA market separately need to comply with the Directive's requirements in terms of design and construction, including the requirement to be CE marked.

21. Could you give some examples of craft explicitly excluded from the Recreational Craft Directive? Are there any exceptions to these exclusions?

The Recreational Craft Directive excludes from its scope the original historical craft and individual replicas thereof designed before 1950, built predominantly with the original materials and labelled as such by the manufacturer.

Boat Trailers are also excluded from the Recreational Craft Directive. Boat Trailers fall under the scope of Directive 2007/43 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers. The directive on Motor Vehicles and Trailers can be found here.

Pedal Boats and Canoes are also, a priori, excluded from the Recreational Craft Directive. However, if these craft are sold with an electric motor or sails on them, they are no longer excluded.

Indeed, the Application Guide to the Recreational Craft Directive states in Article 1, § 2(a)(ii): "Canoes and kayaks, gondolas and pedalos are considered to be craft designed to be propelled by human power excluding rowing. Rowing is considered to be the use of more than one oar. If canoes are so designed and constructed that they can be fitted with a propulsion engine or with sails and placed on the market and/or put into service as such, they are covered by the Directive". 

You may consult the Application Guide at this address.

Kayak boats are also, a priori, excluded from the scope of the Recreational Craft Directive. However, according to the Recreational Craft Directive Application Guide, kayaks are considered to be craft designed to be propelled by human power. Therefore, it is considered that if they are propelled by other means, they cannot be considered as falling within the exemptions from the scope of the Recreational Craft directive 94/25/EC (amended by Directive 2003/44/EC). 

According to Article 1, point 2 (a) (iv) of the Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC (amended by Directive 2003/44/EC), surfboards andpowered surfboards are also excluded from the scope of this directive.

NB Surfboards and powered surfboards are considered to be craft carrying no more than 2 persons sitting, standing or kneeling on the craft's hull and fitted with flotation and fail-safe controls.

Declaration of Conformity and CE Marking
22. How can the manufacturer establish the Declaration of Conformity?

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to issue the Declaration of Conformity. However, the compliance of the boat with the Directive requirements has to be checked (except conformity assessment module A) by a conformity assessment body, also known as a notified body. The conformity assessment body will perform a conformity assessment procedure as laid down in the Directive

If the product is compliant with design, safety and environmental requirements, the conformity assessment body issues the test certificate proving the conformity and then the manufacturer may issue the Declaration of Conformity.

To learn more about conformity assessment procedures and conformity assessment bodies, please go to Questions 25, 26 and 27.

23. What do I need to know about Declarations of Conformity?

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to establish the Declaration of Conformity.

The written Declaration of Conformity must include data on the product and on the manufacturer. It shall notably include the following information:

- Name and address of the manufacturer

- Description of the product

- References to the relevant harmonised standards used

- Reference of other Community directives applied

- Reference to the certificate issued by the notified body

- Name and Address of the notified body

The example of the DoC is available here. The Declaration of Conformity must always accompany the product. This declaration must also be included in the owner's manual, which shall also contain information on certain essential requirements related to the builder's plate, the recommended maximum load, handling characteristics and risks of fire and flooding.

24. How can the manufacturer affix the CE marking?

The affixing of the CE Marking is the responsibility of the manufacturer. The CE marking is the visible proof on the craft that the craft does indeed comply with the requirements of the Directive.

Although it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to affix the CE marking, the compliance of the boat with the requirements of the Directive has to be checked by a Conformity Assessment Body (except conformity assessment module A). After having performed a Conformity Assessment Procedure, the Conformity Assessment Body will issue the test certificate proving the conformity of the craft with the Directive Requirements. The manufacturer may then affix the CE marking. The CE Marking must also be visible, legible and indelible.

Conformity Assessment Modules and Conformity Assessment Bodies
25. Which process does the manufacturer have to follow in order to obtain the CE Marking and approval of his craft?

Conformity assessment processes are described in Article 8 of the Recreational Craft Directive. There exist various modules of conformity assessment which are laid down in Annexes V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII of the Recreational Craft Directive. These annexes roughly correspond to Modules A to H for conformity assessment.

Depending on the craft, the manufacturer will have to use one or several of these modules (A to H). In order to know which of these modules to use to perform the conformity assessment of his craft, the manufacturer should refer to Article 8 of the Recreational Craft Directive (accessible here). 

The conformity assessment process is initiated by the manufacturer, but conformity is actually evaluated by a conformity assessment body notified for this purpose by Member States.

26. What is the difference between conformity assessment bodies and notified bodies?

There is no difference between notified bodies and conformity assessment bodies. "Notified Body" was the terminology used in Decision 93/465/EC[1], but this Decision was repealed by Decision 768/2008/EC which now uses the term "Conformity Assessment Bodies".

In the Recreational Craft Directive, the term "Notified Body" is used.


[1]Council Decision 93/465/EC concerning the modules for the various phases of the conformity assessment procedures and the rules for the affixing and use of the CE conformity marking, which are intended to be used in the technical harmonization directives

27. Where can I find information about notified bodies / conformity assessment bodies?

Decision 768/2008/EC, accessible here pdf български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) , lays down the conditions for notifications of conformity assessment bodies.  The reference provisions laid down in the Annex of the Decision will be included in the next revision of the Recreational Craft Directive, which will include a dedicated chapter to conformity assessment bodies.

The list of these notified bodies is accessible on a dedicated webpage: they are listed in a database called NANDO.

28. When shall someone use "post construction assessment" as a conformity assessment module?

Post construction assessment (PCA) is a conformity assessment procedure developed for special purposes: when the manufacturer did not fulfil his responsibilities regarding the product's conformity with the Recreational Craft Directive, it falls onto the person placing the product on the market to fulfil such responsibilities (Article 8 of the Directive).

The person placing the product on the market is thus taking over the responsibility for ensuring conformity to the Directive. This person is therefore obliged to lodge an application for post-construction assessment with a notified body. The notified body examines the product to verify its conformity with the requirements of the Directive and draws up the report of conformity.

Please note that once again such post-construction assessment (as any other conformity assessment procedures) is only applicable when the boat has been placed on the EU/EEA market after the entry into force of the Recreational Craft Directive.

Such procedures do not apply to boats which have been placed on the market before the date of application of the Recreational Directive, that is to say, before 16 June 1996.

29. What is the so-called "self-certification" procedure? In which cases can it be used?

The so-called "self-certification" procedure is actually Annex V of the Recreational Craft Directive, that is to say "Module A: Internal Production Control". It allows the manufacturer to carry out the conformity assessment procedure on his own, without relying on a conformity assessment body.

The conditions for the use of this Module A "Internal Production Control" are displayed in Article 8 of the Recreational Craft Directive, accessible here. The use of the "self certification" procedure actually depends on a number of conditions and criteria, which are: the category of the craft (A, B, C or D), the length of the craft and the requirements at stake (design and construction requirements, or exhaust emissions requirements or noise emissions requirements).

To know precisely which conformity assessment procedure you should be using for your craft and whether you can use the self-certification procedure, you should consult Article 8 of the Recreational Craft Directive pdf български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) and its Application Guide pdf - 703 KB [703 KB] .

30. Is it possible for a natural or a legal person to carry out the post construction assessment by himself? Or does he necessarily need to rely on a notified body?

Only official notified bodies (notified as such by Member States) can carry out post construction assessments and it is not possible for individuals to carry out such conformity assessment procedures.

It is however possible to apply for appointment as a notified body: to this end, the body willing to act as notified body shall fulfil the criteria set out in Annex XIV of the Recreational Craft Directive. It shall submit its application to the competent national authority (often referred to as the "Notifying Authority") which is responsible for appointing Notified Bodies.

International Rules on Recreational Craft
31. What is the Mutual Recognition Agreement which exists between the US and Canada and the EU? What's its purpose?

The main purpose of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the EU and the US/Canada is to alleviate the burden of conformity assessment procedures for US/Canadian or EU manufacturers who would like to export their products respectively in the EU or in the US/Canada.

One of the European requirements is to get the products CE-marked as a proof of compliance with the European legislation (Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC amended by 2003/44/EC). This compliance with the Directive is considered as a condition for free circulation of the recreational craft in the EU. The MRA is not intended to replace the need for CE-marking, because compliance with the Recreational Craft Directive must be proved, when the product is placed on the EU/EEA market.

The MRA for example enables that certification of compliance with European legislation, including the CE mark, is performed by US/Canadian conformity assessment bodies.

For more information about the Mutual Recognition Agreement, please go to this webpage.

Standards and Standardisation
32. Why there are harmonised standards for the Recreational Craft Directive?

The Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC defines the essential requirements concerning safety, health, environmental and consumer protection. The harmonised standards describe technical details of the essential requirements. Member states transform harmonised standards and publish them as national standards.  The actual standards can be obtained from National Standardisation Bodies.

Other Questions
33. What should be understood by "placing a product on the market"? Can products be considered as "placed on the EU/EEA market" at the moment when they are "imported"?

The Commission's Guide to the implementation of Directives based on the New Approach and the Global Approach gives the following definition of "placing on the market": "a product is placed on the Community market when it is made available for the first time. This is considered to take place when a product is transferred from the stage of manufacture with the intention of distribution or use on the Community market.

Placing on the market is considered NOT to take place where a product is:

- transferred from the manufacturer in a third country to an authorised representative in the Community whom the manufacturer has engaged to ensure that the product complies with the directive.

- transferred to a manufacturer for further measures (assembling, packaging, labelling, etc.)

- not (yet) granted release for free circulation by customs or has been placed under another customs procedure

- manufactured in a Member State with a view to exporting it to a third country

- in the stocks of the manufacturer or the authorised representative established in the Community, where the product is not yet made available."

The Application Guide to the Recreational Craft Directive gives approximately the same definition of "placing on the market" referring to the transfer from the manufacturing stage to the market of the EEA or the importing stage from a third country with a view to its distribution and/or use in the EEA.

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