Boat Compliance Testing Sound Sonic Boom CEPRO UK.

RCD Directive


A New Approach Product Directive 94/25/EC. Adopted in the UK in Consumer Protection law. Statutory Instrument 1996 - No. 1353.

Recreational Craft from 2.5m up to 24m in length.
Includes vessels used for charter / training, kit boats and certain components ie:
Ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive engines.
Start-in-gear protection devices for outboard motors.
Steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies.
Fuel tanks intended for fixed installations and fuel hoses.
Prefabricated hatches and portlights.

Vessels or components within the scope of the RCD must have a CE marking.

There are certain types of vessel excluded from the Directive, including: craft intended solely for racing; canoes; kayaks; pedalos; sailboards; powered surfboards; original, and individual replicas of, historical craft designed before 1950, built predominantly with the original materials; experimental craft not subsequently put on the market; craft built for own use, provided they are not sold for a period of five years from completion; commercial and passenger vessels; submersibles; air cushion vehicles; hydrofoils. (For full definitions refer to Directive 94/25/EC).

New or second-hand vessels that were built / put into service / put on the market within the EEA before 16th June 1998 are exempt. Note that some second-hand vessels will have to comply.

The Manufacturer / Person / Authorised Community Representative first putting the product on the EU market or into service is responsible for making the vessel compliant.

Design Categories

Category Significant Wave Height Beaufort
A- Ocean Exceeding 4m Exceeding 8
B - Offshore Up to & including 4m Up to & including 8
C - Inshore Up to & including 2 Up to & including 6
D - Sheltered Up to & including 0.5m Up to & including 4

Significant wave height means the average height of the highest 1/3rd of the waves over a given period. Waves of double that height may occasionally be experienced.

It is possible for a vessel to have a CE marking in more than one design category provided all requirements for those categories are met.

Compliance & Documentation
When placed on the market or put into service, craft must be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity. This certifies that the vessel meets the Essential Safety Requirements (ESR) contained in the Directive.

A Technical Construction File (TCF) must be produced and maintained by the Manufacturer / Authorised Community Representative. This file has to be kept all the time a particular model is in production and for a minimum of ten years beyond production of last vessel.

The TCF describes how the vessel meets the Essential Safety Requirements.

The vessel must have an Owners Manual. This has to contain information about the safe operation of the vessel and other prescribed contents. The Declaration of Conformity accompanies the Owners Manual and that is why the manual should stay with the boat when it is transferred.

Not all the ESRs are in fact safety related. There are thirty Essential Safety Requirements set out in the Directive. Not all ESR may be applicable in some small simple boats. The ESR are intentionally non-prescriptive to allow maximum freedom of design. The ESR are intended to be supported by harmonised ISO standards but it can be perfectly legal to apply other standards. It can be difficult to prove equivalence without expert help.

This is goverend by conformity assessment modules.

Module Description A Internal Production Control
Aa Internal Production Control + Tests
B EC Type Examination
C Conformity to Type
D Production Quality Assurance
F Product Verification
G Unit Verification
H Full Quality Assurance

Module A is only permitted to craft:
assigned category D
assigned category C and with hull length less than 12m

Module Aa is only permitted to craft with hull length less than 12.

All craft assigned category A, B or C and with hull length of 12m or greater must apply module B to H.

A Notified Body has no involvement in any Category D vessel.

The Notified Body has a mandatory involvement in Categories A and B using module Aa.

Craft 12m and longer If Category A, B or C the Notified Body has a statutory obligation to examine the product and to verify the technical documentation using any Module other than A or Aa.

Second-hand yachts
If a second hand yacht, built outside the EEA ( a Third Country Yacht) is being put on the market or put into service within the EEA for the first time after June 16th 1998 it also must have a CE marking as if it was a new boat. It is being traded / put into service illegally if it does not.

Post Construction Assessment This involves detailed but retrospective scrutiny of the vessel in accordance with Standards, Codes and data that will fulfil the requirements of the RCD. The cost of assessment could range between £2000 - £6000 depending on complexity and the amount of involvement of a Notified Body. Extra costs are likely to be incurred carrying out essential modifications.

Depending on the initial cost of the vessel, this may well turn out be a good investment because the assessment and CE marking is a one-off exercise that thereafter provides freedom of access to the EEA markets.

In the case of an existing boat the builder may not be available. Post Construction Assessment and Certification is offered as a complete service by CEproof.

A special service for American Sports Boats (ASBs) is offered by CEproof to reflect the cost savings available for a mass-produced boat.

Directive Exemption
A Third Country vessel that has been put on the market or was in service within the waters of the EEA prior to June 16th 1998 is exempt from the requirements of the RCD. It can be legally traded / put into service if the above criteria can be proved.

The EEA includes a large number of Protectorates, Territories and Departments around the globe. There are a number of documents that might be used as proof of having been on the market or in service in a qualifying area.

A Directive Exemption Certificate has been developed by CEproof to bring together this evidence into a single authoritative document. The DEC has proved to be effective where the status of a vessel in connection with the RCD is not clear. The DEC can be extremely effective where the alternative might be to make the vessel compliant. Issue of a DEC involves no technical inspection of the vessel whatsoever.

Home built boats
Boats built or largely completed by the owner are excluded from the scope of the RCD provided the vessel is not sold within the EEA for a period of five years. A boat is not Home Built if the owner ‘project manages’ other trades.

It is important therefore to establish the date of completion because if the vessel is sold or transferred, for whatever reason, inside the five year period it must be RCD compliant and have a CE marking. This will be conducted as Post Construction Assessment. CEproof offer an interim registration service for vessels acquiring exemption under this rule. This records the date of completion so that the absence of a CE marking can be justified and the qualified exemption status declared.

There are special criteria to be considered with Kit Boats, Sailaways, and boats fitted out from finished hulls whereby compliance has to be demonstrated and certified by the manufacturer to the extent of their involvement. (Partly Built Craft)

In the UK the Trading Standards Officers are responsible for enforcing the requirements of the Directive. In Europe the RCD is policed by dockside enforcement agencies who are more pro-active. They are more likely than the UK agencies to find vessels illegally in service without a CE marking.

Yacht builders, agents, brokers, insurers, financiers and owners all need to know about the application of the RCD.

Infringement of the Directive can lead to a £5,000 fine and / or three months in prison. Extreme cases where the vessel is also deemed to be unsafe could lead to its forfeiture. If civil action is taken, there is no theoretical limit to the damages that can be awarded.