CE Certificate
Recreational Craft Directive
The Recreational Craft Directive applies to the marketing and putting into service of pleasure craft, partially completed boats and certain loose and assembled components.
In accordance with the Directive, recreational craft are understood to mean any craft intended for sport or leisure purposes, regardless of the type or the means of propulsion, with a hull length of 2.5 meters to 24 meters, measured according to the appropriate harmonized standards. The Directive includes several exceptions that fall outside the scope of the Directive. A CE marking indicates that a craft complies with all of the provisions of the Directive. If you are uncertain whether your craft will be required to comply with the requirements (or certain requirements), or you are not sure which compliance procedure is necessary for your craft,
Each design category (A, B, C and D) is subject to different requirements in terms of demonstrating that a craft complies with the requirements laid down in the Directive.
Owner’s manual
Each craft must 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
Technical file
The technical documentation accompanying a craft must provide an insight into the design, production process and operation of the product and also make it possible to evaluate whether the requirements of the Directive have been met.
CE Marking
Since June 1998, all recreational craft new to the European Economic Area (EEA), must meet the requirements of the EU Directive on Recreational Craft or RCD as it is often called. The Recreational Craft Regulations 1996, which originally implemented the Directive into UK law, were replaced in 2004. The new regulations have added environmental provisions about engine and noise emissions to the list of essential requirements. There is also a specific way for completed craft to be assessed called a Post Construction Assessment. The Regulations place the responsibility of ensuring the craft meets all the requirements of the RCD upon the person who first places the craft on the EEA market.
First placing on the market is a legal term that has several meanings:
  • It usually happens when the completed craft is sold by the manufacturer to the person who is going to use it or a dealer for further distribution.
  • It also happens when the completed craft is used for the first time, as in the case of a Home built or added to the manufacturer’s charter fleet.
  • With imported boats it happens when it clears customs because it is then available for use or distribution.
  • This is the point when the completed craft must comply with all the requirements of the RCD.
Anyone thinking of buying a completed boat, new or used, should look for these five items:
  • A builder’s plate with a CE mark
  • A craft identification number (CIN) or hull identification mark (HIN)
  • An owner’s manual
  • A copy of a declaration of conformity
  • A post construction assessment signed by a notified body
  • Builder’s Plate
Every new boat sold or first used in the EU since 16 June 1998 must have a builder’s plate. This plate has the maker’s details and technical information such as the design category, maximum loading weight and engine power. It must also include the CE mark.
Craft Identification Number (CIN)
The Craft Identification Number or Hull Identification Number (HIN) as it used to be called, is unique to that craft. It is a code that identifies not only the builder, but where and when the craft was built. It will look similar to the illustration below and is found in two places. One is found on or near the transom, starboard side, near the top. The other is hidden as a security check. This example shows an incorrect CIN. It looks OK a first glance, but the model year (00=2000) cannot be before the year of manufacture
Owner’s Manual
New boats must have an owner’s manual. Used boats must come with enough instructions and other information to allow the new owner to use and maintain the boat safely. As all the required information is in the original owner’s manual, always ask to see it. You should also have the manuals for any equipment fitted for the same reasons.
The owner’s manual must also contain an important legal document called a Declaration of Conformity. This document is issued and signed by the manufacturer, or his agent or the importer. It is part of the CE marking requirements and is one of the Documents that may be asked for and examined by any of the EEA Enforcement Authorities. Very important if the craft is being used in Europe.
If a craft is being offered for sale without one of the five items you could have real problems if you buy it!
BUT some craft do not need to be CE marked:
  • Any craft already in use in EEA waters before 16th June 1998.
  • Any craft under 2.5m or over 24m.
  • Any craft on the list of exemptions and, usually labeled such as racing boats, historic craft and hovercraft.
However in most cases the exemption has conditions. A craft can loose the exemption if the conditions are broken and will need to meet the full requirements of the RCD. This is a complex area to give general advice on. Each case has to be examined and decisions made on an individual basis.
Some examples to be aware of:
Used boats from countries outside the EEA.
Any boat, new or used, imported into the EEA since June 16 1998 is regarded as being a craft new to the EEA market. This means it has to meet all the requirements of the RCD before it can be used.

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