UK Pleasure Yacht Regulations

We here at Oceanskies are often asked the question, ‘What are the regulations for a private pleasure yacht?’

In a move that will certainly help answer this question the United Kingdom’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have today published a very helpful Marine Guidance Note to provide an overview of the Merchant Shipping legislation that applies to pleasure yachts, including the rules relating to certification and manning requirements.

The regulations apply specifically to UK registered pleasure yachts wherever they may be operating and also to non UK registered pleasure yachts operating in UK waters.

Oceanskies would recommend that the rules are viewed as best practice by all yacht owners regardless of their flag state or area of operation.

The guidance notes begin with a helpful short form definition of what constitutes a pleasure vessel by stating, ‘Pleasure vessels are vessels used for sport or recreational purposes and do not operate for financial gain’. A more extensive legal definition is then provided with an extract from the relevant merchant shipping regulation.

A copy of MGN 538 can be downloaded on the following link:

MCA MGN 538 (M) Pleasure Vessels – Guidance and Applicable UK Regulations

It should be noted that Marine Guidance Noted are issued by the MCA to provide significant advice and guidance relating to the improvement of the safety of shipping and of life at sea, and to prevent or minimise pollution from shipping. Whilst Marine Guidance Notes provide guidance on the applicable laws they should not be regarded as definitive as the way that the law might apply to a particular case can vary according to circumstance.

For further information or guidance please do not hesitate to contact us.

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