Recreational Craft Directive
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Our surveyors possess a wealth of knowledge regarding the RCD and assist importers and home builders in achieving conformity with the directive so that vessels may be put into service or placed on the market within the EU.
As Notified Body approved assessors, we conduct Post Construction Assessments of vessels imported into the EU and apply the CE mark to the vessel for legal use in the EU.
This process can be relatively fast, following our inspection and apraisal of the vessel, our paperwork is submitted to the Notified Body and typically the documentation is returned within 3-4 days. We will also arrange for CIN and builder's plates to be produced and affix them to the vessel if required.
With experience in all areas of small craft surveying, including expert witness investigation into the RCD compliance of new build vessels, assisting home builders to achieve compliance and inspection of new build vessels at factories across Europe, we are well placed to offer advice on any project.
Due to the unique nature of every project please contact our office on +44 (0) 2380 207938 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the survey process and your specific requirements. Alternatively, please click here to submit an enquiry online.
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Guide to the Recreational Craft DirectiveScope
The Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) is a directive based on the new and global approach for common trading practices across Europe. The directive sets essential requirements for the design and construction of 'recreational craft', which it defines as "...any craft intended for sport or leisure purposes, regardless of the type or the means of propulsion, with a hull length of 2.5m to 24m...". The Directive applies to pleasure craft, partially completed boats and loose and assembled components. Failure to satisfy the requirements of the directive carries a heavy fine or a prison sentence.
The Directive became available for use from 16 June 1996 and became mandatory from 16 June 1998. As such manufacturers and importers may no longer place pleasure craft and components on the market, which do not comply with the essential requirements of the directive. In addition to these technical requirements, the Directive imposes a requirement on the manufacturer to keep a technical file of all relevant data, to officially state the conformity of his product in a Declaration of Conformity, to affix the CE Marking on the craft and to inform the users about safe use/maintenance through a builder's plate and an owner's manual.
Design and Construction of Craft
Recreational craft intended for sports and leisure purposes, regardless of the means of propulsion, and measuring between 2.5 and 24 metres in hull length, personal watercraft less than 4 metres in length and partly completed recreational craft, whether constructed in or imported into the European Economic Area (EEA), may only be placed on the market in the EEA and put into service for use if they meet the essential safety requirements (ESRs) set out in the directive.
Depending on their design category, recreational craft and personal watercraft will need to satisfy conformity assessment procedures involving a Notified Body. Recreational craft, personal watercraft and the specified components will be required to carry a CE marking. The product must not endanger the safety and health of persons, property or the environment.
The exhaust emission requirements take the form of limits of acceptable emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and, in the case of diesel engines, particulates. They also apply to engines placed on the market after 1 January 2005 and also to engines placed on the market after 1 January 2005 that subsequently undergo major modification.
The noise emission requirements are presented in terms of maximum acceptable sound pressure levels determined from a pass-by test or alternative methods of calculation. They apply to craft placed on the market after 1 January 2005 and also to craft placed on the market after 1 January 2005 that subsequently undergo major conversions.
The new RCD has introduced a method which allows craft already built or imported from outside of the EEA to be assessed to the provisions of the Directive and CE marked by means of Post Construction Assessment (PCA).
Failure to comply with the above requirements will mean that these products may be prohibited from being placed on the market within the EEA, and withdrawn if previously placed on the market.
Summary of the Recreational Craft DirectiveApplication
These Regulations apply to any product of the following descriptions:
With regard to design and construction, to:
- Recreational craft and partly completed boats.
- Personal watercraft.
With regard to exhaust emissions, to:
- Propulsion engines which are installed or specifically intended for installation on or in recreational craft and personal watercraft.
- Propulsion engines installed on or in such craft that are subject to a major engine modification.
The noise emission of:
- Recreational craft with stern drive engines without integral exhausts or inboard propulsion engine installations.
- Recreational craft with stern drive engines without integral exhausts or with inboard propulsion installations which are subject to a major craft conversion and subsequently placed on the Community market within five years following conversion.
- Personal watercraft.
- Outboard engines and stern drive engines with integral exhausts intended for installation on recreational craft.
The application of these Regulations to any recreational craft or partly completed recreational craft shall not be prevented by the fact that the said craft could be used for charter or for recreational boating training when it is placed on the market for recreational purposes.
The requirements of these Regulations shall not apply to the showing of any product at any trade fair, exhibition, demonstration or the like provided that a visible sign clearly indicates that the product in question may not be placed on the market until it has been made to comply with them.
The following products are excluded from the scope of these regulations:
- Craft intended solely for racing, including rowing racing boats and training rowing boats, labelled as such by the manufacturer.
- Canoes and kayaks, gondolas and pedalos.
- Sailing surfboards.
- Surfboards, including powered surfboards.
- Original historical craft and individual replicas thereof designed before 1950, built predominantly with the original materials and labelled as such by the manufacturer.
- Experimental craft, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community market.
- Craft built for own use, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community market during a period of five years
- Craft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes.
- Air cushion vehicles.
- External combustion steam powered craft, fuelled by coal, coke, wood, oil or gas.
- Propulsion engines installed or specifically intended for installation on the following:
- Craft intended solely for racing and labelled as such by the manufacturer.
- Experimental craft, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community market.
- Craft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes.
- Air cushion vehicles.
- Original and individual replicas of historical propulsion engines, which are based on a pre-1950 design, not produced in series and fitted on replica craft or craft built for own use.
- Propulsion engines built for own use provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community market during a period of five years.
Prohibition On Placing On The Market
Any craft or partly completed craft, personal watercraft or product detailed in the directive must comply with the requirements of the directive before it is “...place[d] on the market…” or put into service, unless the craft or item falls within the exclusions detailed in Article 1 Section 3 of the RCD.
It is be the duty of the following authorities to enforce these Regulations within their area:
- In Great Britain, weights and measures authorities.
- In Northern Ireland, every district council.
Offences and penalties
Any person found guilty of contravening the regulations is liable to either or both of the following :
- Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months.
- To a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
Part Completed Craft
Part-completed or kit boats must be sold with a declaration (Annex IIIa of the Directive) stating that the package meets the Essential Requirements up to the stage of completion when sold, and that the craft is intended to be completed by others. This means that further Essential Requirements need to be met before the craft can be fully assessed and CE marked.
Any company producing recreational craft (or engines or components) within the scope of the RCD must also carry out the following:
- Produce and maintain a detailed Technical file on each model or family of craft (or engine or component). This must include all relevant data or means used by the manufacturer to ensure that the craft comply with the relevant Essential Safety requirements.
- Produce an adequate Owner’s Manual in the language of the country where the craft is being sold.
- Produce written Declaration of Conformity. This will include references to the harmonised standards or other codes or standards used and where appropriate, reference to the type-examination certificate and the Notified Body.
- Label the craft (or engine or component) with a CE mark. On the craft this will normally be on the builder’s plate.
- Keep the Technical file and copies of Declaration of Conformity for 10 years after the last example was placed on the
A. Essential Requirements For The Design And Construction Of Recreational Craft
1. Boat Design Categories
|Design Category||Windforce (Beaufort scale)||Significant wave height
(H 1/3, metres)
|A - `Ocean'||exceeding 8||exceeding 4|
|B - `Offshore'||up to, and including, 8||up to, and including, 4|
|C - `Inshore'||up to, and including, 6||up to, and including, 2|
|D - `Sheltered waters'||up to, and including, 4||up to, and including, 0.3|
2. General Requirements
2.1. Craft Identification
Each craft shall be marked with an identification number including the following information:
- Manufacturer's code.
- Country of manufacture.
- Unique serial number.
- Year of production.
- Model year.
2.2. Builder's Plate
Each craft shall carry a permanently affixed plate mounted separately from the boat hull identification number, containing the following information:
- Manufacturer's name.
- CE marking.
- Boat design category according to section 1.
- Manufacturer's maximum recommended load excluding weight of the contents of the fixed tanks when full.
- Number of persons recommended by the manufacturer for which the boat was designed to carry when under way.
2.3. Protection From Falling Overboard And Means Of Reboarding
Depending on the design category, craft shall be designed to minimize the risks of falling overboard and to facilitate reboarding.
2.4. Visibility From The Main Steering Position
For motor boats, the main steering position shall give the operator, under normal conditions of use (speed and load), good all-round visibility.
2.5. Owner's Manual
Each craft shall be provided with an owner's manual in the official Community language or languages which may be determined by the Member State in which it is marketed in accordance with the Treaty. This manual should draw particular attention to risks of fire and flooding and shall contain the information listed in sections 2.2, 3.6 and 4 as well as the unladen weight of the craft in kilograms.
3. Integrity And Structural Requirements
The choice and combination of materials and its construction shall ensure that the craft is strong enough in all respects. Special attention shall be paid to the design category according to section 1, and the manufacturer's maximum recommended load in accordance with section 3.6.
3.2. Stability and freeboard
The craft shall have sufficient stability and freeboard considering its design category according to section 1 and the manufacturer's maximum recommended load according to section 3.6.
3.3. Buoyancy and flotation
The craft shall be constructed to ensure that it has buoyancy characteristics appropriate to its design category, and the manufacturer's maximum recommended load according to section 3.6. All habitable multihull craft shall be so designed as to have sufficient buoyancy to remain afloat in the inverted position. Boats of less than six metres in length that are susceptible to swamping when used in their design category shall be provided with appropriate means of flotation in the swamped condition.
3.4. Openings in hull, deck and superstructure
Openings in hull, deck(s) and superstructure shall not impair the structural integrity of the craft or its weathertight integrity when closed. Windows, portlights, doors and hatchcovers shall withstand the water pressure likely to be encountered in their specific position, as well as point loads applied by the weight of persons moving on deck. Through hull fittings designed to allow water passage into the hull or out of the hull, below the waterline corresponding to the manufacturer's maximum recommended load according to section 3.6, shall be fitted with shutoff means which shall be readily accessible.
All craft shall be designed so as to minimize the risk of sinking. Particular attention should be paid where appropriate to:
- Cockpits and wells, which should be self-draining or have other means of keeping water out of the boat.
- Ventilation fittings.
- Removal of water by pumps or other means.
3.6. Manufacturer's maximum recommended load
The manufacturer's maximum recommended load (fuel, water, provisions, miscellaneous equipment and people (in kg)) for which the boat was designed shall be determined according to the design category, stability and freeboard (section 3.2) and buoyancy and flotation (section 3.3).
3.7. Liferaft stowage
All craft of categories A and B, and craft of categories C and D longer than six metres shall be provided with one or more stowage points for a liferaft(s) large enough to hold the number of persons the boat was designed to carry as recommended by the manufacturer. This (these) stowage point(s) shall be readily accessible at all times.
All habitable multihull craft over 12 metres long shall be provided with viable means of escape in the event of inversion. All habitable craft shall be provided with viable means of escape in the event of fire.
3.9. Anchoring, mooring and towing
All craft, taking into account their design category and their characteristics shall be fitted with one or more strong points or other means capable of safely accepting anchoring, mooring and towing loads.
4. Handling Characteristics
The manufacturer shall ensure that the handling characteristics of the craft are satisfactory with the most powerful engine for which the boat is designed and constructed. For all recreational marine engines, the maximum rated engine power shall be declared in the owner's manual in accordance with the harmonised standard.
5. Installation Requirements
5.1. Engines and engine spaces
5.1.1. Inboard engine
All inboard mounted engines shall be placed within an enclosure separated from living quarters and installed so as to minimize the risk of fires or spread of fires as well as hazards from toxic fumes, heat, noise or vibrations in the living quarters.
Engine parts and accessories that require frequent inspection and/or servicing shall be readily accessible.
The insulating materials inside engine spaces shall be non-combustible.
The engine compartment shall be ventilated. The dangerous ingress of water into the engine compartment through all inlets must be prevented.
5.1.3. Exposed parts
Unless the engine is protected by a cover or its own enclosure, exposed moving or hot parts of the engine that could cause personal injury shall be effectively shielded.
5.1.4. Outboard engines starting
All boats with outboard engines shall have a device to prevent starting the engine in gear, except:
- When the engine produces less than 500 newtons (N) of static thrust.
- When the engine has a throttle limiting device to limit thrust to 500 N at the time of starting the engine.
5.1.5. Personal watercraft running without driver
Personal watercraft shall be designed either with an automatic engine cut-off or with an automatic device to provide reduced speed, circular, forward movement when the driver dismounts deliberately or falls overboard.
5.2. Fuel system
The filling, storage, venting and fuel-supply arrangements and installations shall be designed and installed so as to minimize the risk of fire and explosion.
5.2.2. Fuel tanks
Fuel tanks, lines and hoses shall be secured and separated or protected from any source of significant heat. The material the tanks are made of and their method of construction shall be according to their capacity and the type of fuel.
All tank spaces shall be ventilated.
Petrol fuel shall be kept in tanks which do not form part of the hull and are:
- Insulated from the engine compartment and from all other source of ignition.
- Separated from living quarters.
Diesel fuel may be kept in tanks that are integral with the hull.
5.3. Electrical system
Electrical systems shall be designed and installed so as to ensure proper operation of the craft under normal conditions of use and shall be such as to minimize risk of fire and electric shock.
Attention shall be paid to the provision of overload and short-circuit protection of all circuits, except engine starting circuits, supplied from batteries.
Ventilation shall be provided to prevent the accumulation of gases which might be emitted from batteries. Batteries shall be firmly secured and protected from ingress of water.
5.4. Steering system
Steering systems shall be designed, constructed and installed in order to allow the transmission of steering loads under foreseeable operating conditions.
5.4.2. Emergency arrangements
Sailboat and single-engined inboard powered motor boats with remote controlled rudder steering systems shall be provided with emergency means of steering the craft at reduced speed.
5.5. Gas system
Gas systems for domestic use shall be of the vapour-withdrawal type and shall be designed and installed so as to avoid leaks and the risk of explosion and be capable of being tested for leaks. Materials and components shall be suitable for the specific gas used to withstand the stresses and exposures found in the marine environment.
Each appliance shall be equipped with a flame failure device effective on all burners. Each gas-consuming appliance must be supplied by a separate branch of the distribution system, and each appliance must be controlled by a separate closing device. Adequate ventilation must be provided to prevent hazards from leaks and products of combustion.
All craft with a permanently installed gas system shall be fitted with an enclosure to contain all gas cylinders. The enclosure shall be separated from the living quarters, accessible only from the outside and ventilated to the outside so that any escaping gas drains overboard. Any permanent gas system shall be tested after installation.
5.6. Fire protection
The type of equipment installed and the layout of the craft shall take account of the risk and spread of fire. Special attention shall be paid to the surroundings of open flame devices, hot areas or engines and auxiliary machines, oil and fuel overflows, uncovered oil and fuel pipes and avoiding electrical wiring above hot areas of machines.
5.6.2. Fire-fighting equipment
Craft shall be supplied with fire-fighting equipment appropriate to the fire hazard, or 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.
5.7. Navigation lights
Where navigation lights are fitted, they shall comply with the 1972 Colreg or CEVNI regulations, as appropriate.
5.8. Discharge prevention and installations facilitating the delivery ashore of waste
Craft shall be constructed so as to prevent the accidental discharge of pollutants (oil, fuel, etc) overboard.
Craft fitted with toilets shall have either:
- Holding tanks.
- Provision to fit holding tanks.
Craft with permanently installed holding tanks shall be fitted with a standard discharge connection to enable pipes of reception facilities to be connected with the craft discharge pipeline. In addition, any through-the-hull pipes for human waste shall be fitted with valves which are capable of being secured in the closed position.
B. Essential Requirements For Exhaust Emissions From Propulsion Engines
Propulsion engines shall comply with the following essential requirements for exhaust emissions.
1. Engine Identification
1.1. Each engine shall be clearly marked with the following information:
- Engine manufacturer's trademark or trade-name.
- engine type, engine family, if applicable.
- A unique engine identification number.
- CE marking, if required under Article 10.
1.2. These marks must be durable for the normal life of the engine and must be clearly legible and indelible. If labels or plates are used, they must be attached in such a manner that the fixing is durable for the normal life of the engine, and the labels/plates cannot be removed without destroying or defacing them.
1.3. These marks must be secured to an engine part necessary for normal engine operation and not normally requiring replacement during the engine life.
1.4. These marks must be located so as to be readily visible to the average person after the engine has been assembled with all the components necessary for engine operation.
2. Exhaust Emission Requirements
Propulsion engines shall be designed, constructed and assembled so that when correctly installed and in normal use, emissions shall not exceed the limit values declared by the directive.
The manufacturer of the engine shall supply engine installation and maintenance instructions, which if applied should mean that the engine in normal use will continue to comply with the above limits throughout the normal life of the engine and under normal conditions of use.
This information shall be obtained by the engine manufacturer by use of prior endurance testing, based on normal operating cycles, and by calculation of component fatigue so that the necessary maintenance instructions may be prepared by the manufacturer and issued with all new engines when first placed on the market.
The normal life of the engine is considered to mean:
- Inboard or stern drive engines with or without integral exhaust: 480 hours or 10 years, whichever occurs first.
- Personal watercraft engines: 350 hours or 5 years, whichever occurs first.
- Outboard engines: 350 hours or 10 years, whichever occurs first.
4. Owner’s Manual
Each engine shall be provided with an Owner's Manual in the Community language or languages, which may be determined by the Member State in which the engine is to be marketed. This manual shall:
- Provide instructions for the installation and maintenance needed to assure the proper functioning of the engine to meet the requirements of paragraph 3, (Durability).
- Specify the power of the engine when measured in accordance with the harmonised standard.
C. Essential Requirements For Noise Emissions
Recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engines without integral exhaust, personal watercraft and outboard engines and stern drive engines with integral exhaust shall comply with the following essential requirements for noise emissions.
1. Noise Emission Levels
1.1. Recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engines without integral exhaust, personal watercraft and outboard engines and stern drive engines with integral exhaust shall be designed, constructed and assembled so that noise emissions measured in accordance with tests defined in the harmonised standard shall not exceed the limit values set by the directive.
1.2. As an alternative to sound measurement tests, recreational craft with inboard engine configuration or stern drive engine configuration, without integral exhaust, shall be deemed to comply with these noise requirements if they have a Froude number of 1.1 and a power displacement ration of 40 and where the engine and exhaust system are installed in accordance with the engine manufacturer's specifications.
1.3. "Froude number" shall be calculated by dividing the maximum boat speed V (m/s) by the square root of the waterline length lwl (m), multiplied by a given gravitational constant, (g = 9,8 m/s2).
"Power displacement ratio" shall be calculated by dividing the engine power P (kW) by the boat's displacement D (t).
1.4. As a further alternative to sound measurement tests, recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engine configurations without integral exhaust, shall be deemed to comply with these noise requirements if their key design parameters are the same as or compatible with those of a certified reference boat to tolerances specified in the harmonised standard.
1.5. "Certified reference boat" shall mean a specific combination of hull/inboard engine or stern drive engine without integral exhaust that has been found to comply with the noise emission requirements, when measured in accordance with section 1.1, and for which all appropriate key design parameters and sound level measurements have been included subsequently in the published list of certified reference boats.
2. Owner’s Manual
For recreational craft with inboard engine or stern engines with or without integral exhaust and personal watercraft, the Owner's Manual required under Annex 1.A Section 2.5, shall include information necessary to maintain the craft and exhaust system in a condition that, insofar as is practicable, will ensure compliance with the specified noise limit values when in normal use.
For outboard engines, the Owner's Manual required under Annex 1.B.4 shall provide instructions necessary to maintain the outboard engine in a condition, that insofar as is practicable, will ensure compliance with the specified noise limit values when in normal use.