The Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) is a European Union (EU) directive defining minimum technical, safety and environmental standards for recreational craft, partly completed boats and components when separate and when installed that are placed into service, sold and operated within the European Economic Area (EEA).
It is the purpose of this guide to provide further information concerning the RCD from the perspective of recreational craft.
The RCD applies to all recreational craft that were first placed on the EEA market after 16 June 1998 or first placed into service in the EEA after 16 June 1998 (this included yachts imported from outside the EEA).
The original RCD, 94/25/EC came into force on 16th June 1996 with a transition period that ended on 15th June 1998.
In 2003, an amendment, 2003/44/EC, was introduced to bring personal watercraft into the scope of the RCD and to introduce new requirements for noise and engine exhaust emissions.
On 18 January 2016 these ‘old’ Directives were repealed and replaced by ‘new’ Directive 2013/53/EU which has become known as the Recreational Craft Directive II.
From the 18th January, 2016 to the 17th January 2017 there is a transition during which recreational craft, engines and components that are RCD compliant and CE-marked according to either the “old” or the “new” Directives cane placed on the market (this is to facilitate the sales of existing craft, engines and components).
What is a ‘Recreational Craft’
The RCD defines a recreational craft as:
“any watercraft of any type, excluding personal watercraft, intended for sports and leisure purposes of hull length from 2,5 m to 24 m, regardless of the means of propulsion”
The hull length is the length of the hull measured in accordance with the harmonised standard.
The fact that the watercraft could also be used for charter or for sports and leisure training shall not prevent it being covered by the RCD when it is placed on the market for recreational purposes.
Certain limited categories of vessels are not considered to be recreational craft within the scope of the RCD for example, canoes and kayaks designed to be propelled solely by human power, hydrofoils and hovercraft but the majority of yachts registered by Oceanskies to be sold or placed into service within the EU will be covered by the Directive.
- Built in the EEA prior to 16 June 1998; or
- In use in the EEA prior to 16 June 1998; or
- Visiting the EEA for reasons of tourism or in transit (time scales are undefined).
A key requirement of the RCD is that an owner’s manual must accompany the vessel that is written in a language that can be easily understood by consumers and other end users.
The owner’s manual must include all the information necessary for safe use of the recreational craft, drawing particular attention to set up, maintenance, regular operation, prevention of risks and risk management.
The owner’s manuals must always be accompanied by an important legal document called the EU Declaration of Conformity or ‘CE Certificate’.
The EU Declaration of Conformity is the document stating that the recreational craft satisfies the essential requirements of the Directive.
Engines and certain key components should also have their own EU Declarations of Conformity,
Recreational craft must be ‘CE Marked’ meaning that a plate is inserted inside the vessel including the following information:
- manufacturer’s name, registered trade name or registered trade mark;
- manufacturer’s contact address;
- CE mark;
- design category;
- manufacturer’s maximum recommended load excluding weight of the contents of the fixed tanks when full; and
- number of persons recommended by the manufacturer for which the vessel was designed to carry when underway.
The plate is usually found inside the vessel, for instance in the cockpit or bridge / wheel-house area.
The craft must also be marked separately with a Craft Identification Number (CIN) including the following information:
- manufacturer’s code;
- country of manufacture;
- unique serial number;
- month of manufacture;
- year of production; and
- model year.
The CIN is found in two places; one is visible, (usually on or near the transom on the starboard side), whilst the second is marked in a hidden part of the vessel as a security check.
Please do not hesitate to contact us here at Oceanskies for further information concerning the RCD and CE Marking for yachts and other recreational craft.