Hampshire Trading Standards

Recreational Craft

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.


If you build or import recreational craft, whether as business or as a private individual, you should be aware of the Recreational Craft Regulations 2004.

Regulations have been in force since 1998 and amended in 2004 adding some new requirements.

The RCD requires that a craft must have been formally assessed against the essential requirements, technical documentation drawn up and the CE marking properly applied.

If the CE mark is not properly applied, the craft cannot legally be sold or used in the UK and any other EEA member states.

The 2004 Regulations implement the EU Directive on Recreational Craft 94/25/EC its amendments and Directive 2003/44/EC. This is where the term RCD comes from.


What is caught?

All new boats, between 2.5 and 24 metres long, intended to be used for sports and leisure purposes, and not on the exempted list.

  • Craft sold as partly completed craft.
  • Craft imported from outside the EU whether new or used.
  • Any Home-Built Craft sold within 5 years of its first use as a recreational craft.
  • Personal watercraft.
  • Propulsion engines, both outboard and inboard, whether sold as a separate item or as part of a craft, must have EC Type Approval. Outboards and inboard engines with integral exhausts must be CE marked.
  • Craft on the exempt list but changing their use to a recreational craft.
  • Components listed in the RCD.

There are exemptions and the regulations do not apply to recreational craft that were already in use in EEA waters before 16th June 1998.

It is the builder or importer who is held responsible for ensuring that products listed above meet the requirements of the RCD before they are sold or used for the first time anywhere in the European Economic Area.

The main requirements:

  • Conformity Assessment procedure
  • A Craft Identification Number (CIN) with a registered Manufacturers Identification Code (MIC).
  • Technical files
  • Declaration of conformity
  • CE mark on a builders plate

Conformity Assessment procedure

All the craft and engines must go through a conformity assessment procedure. The RCD provides for a number of different modules for this purpose, from self certification to a full QA system. The choice of which module to use is left to the manufacturer. However the type of engine or craft, its length, and its appropriate design category may restrict which module can be used. Some of the modules require the involvement of a Notified Body, which is a third party certification body appointed by various EU Member States.

If you are importing into the EEA a completed craft that is not already CE marked, the post construction certification procedure must be followed and a Notified Body has to be used. The Post Construction procedure must be used to assess any complete craft where the manufacturer is not involved.


Craft Identification Number (CIN)

All complete craft must have a CIN. It must be in the form laid down by ISO EN 10087.

Part of the 14 character CIN is the Manufacturers Identification Code (MIC). The British Marine Industries Federation (BMF) has been appointed by the UK Government to issue MICs and keep the register of MICs used in the UK.

The MIC identifies the person who is responsible for CE marking the craft.


Technical File

In all cases a technical file is required. This file contains all the evidence that the complete or part-completed craft, components and engines meet the essential requirements. The RCD contains a list of what a Technical File must contain. It includes design drawings, stability calculations, construction specifications and the methods adopted to meet the Essential Requirements listed in the RCD.

Although not mandatory, in most instances the simplest method of meeting the essential requirements is by the use of Harmonised Standards. If the standard is met in full, this confers a legal presumption that the essential requirements have been met. Other methods of meeting the essential requirements can be as equally valid but will not grant this automatic presumption. Using other methods when a Harmonised Standard is available will require extra evidence of how the essential requirements have been met.

After successfully completing the conformity assessment procedure you should put the CE Mark on the craft builder's plate, and draw up a written Declaration of Conformity. There is no prescribed form for this document, but the regulations list what it must contain.

You must include a copy of the declaration of conformity in the owner's manual and put a copy in the Technical File.

Only a complete craft can be CE marked. You need to give an Annex IIIa declaration to the purchaser if the craft is partly completed.

Partly complete means that the craft needs more work before the full assessment of all the applicable essential requirements can be made.

You are legally obliged to keep copies of these documents and have them available for inspection for 10 years after the last example of the craft was sold.

The Market Surveillance Authorities of any EU member state can request copies of these documents.

Offences are committed if the documentation is not produced within a reasonable time of receiving an official request.


Penalties in the UK

Claims under product liability may be made for up to 10 years after the craft was first placed on the market.

Failure to comply with any of the requirements could lead to a criminal prosecution of the person responsible for first placing the craft, component or engine on the EU Market with a maximum fine, in the UK, of £5,000 and/or 3 months in prison.

The enforcement authorities in all EU member states also have powers to remove non-compliant craft from the market and apply for their destruction.