The following is a simple summary of the RCD and RCR, set out in a way
to ease an understanding of the requirements, for the definitive text please
download the official journals. [Download
What does the Recreational Craft Directive apply to?
The design and construction, of -
craft and partly completed boats;
The exhaust [particle] emissions, of -
engines which are installed or specifically intended for installation on or
in recreational craft and personal watercraft.
engines installed on or in such craft that are subject to a major engine
modificationwith regard to noise emissions, to -
The noise emission of -
craft with stern drive engines without integral exhausts or inboard
propulsion engine installations;
craft with stern drive engines without integral exhausts or with inboard
are subject to a major craft conversion and subsequently placed on the
Community market within five years following conversion
engines and stern drive engines with integral exhausts intended for
installation on recreational craft.
The application of the RCD to any recreational craft or partly completed
recreational craft shall not be prevented by the fact that the craft could
be used for charter or for recreational boating training when it is placed
on the market for recreational purposes.
It is not a compulsory requirement of the RCD that it is applied to products
shown at any trade fair, exhibition, demonstration or the like provided that
a visible sign clearly indicates that the product in question may not be
placed on the market until it has been made to comply with them.
Products Excluded from the scope of the Recreational Craft Directive.
Products are often referred to as being ‘EXEMPT’ from the RCD, however the
RCD doesn’t detail any Exemptions but only the following ‘EXCLUSIONS’.
The following are not products for the purposes of these Regulations -
The following lists the products which are outside the scope of the
intended solely for racing, including rowing racing boats and training
rowing boats, labelled as such by the manufacturer.
and kayaks, gondolas and pedalos.
including powered surfboards.
historical craft and individual replicas thereof designed before 1950, built
predominantly with the original materials and labelled as such by the
craft, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community
built for own use, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the
Community market during a period of five years.
specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial
purposes regardless of the number of passengers.
combustion steam powered craft, fuelled by coal, coke, wood, oil or gas.
engines installed or specifically intended for installation on the
- craft intended solely for racing and labelled as such by the manufacturer,
- experimental craft, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the
- craft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for
- air cushion vehicles
and individual replicas of historical propulsion engines, which are based on
a pre-1950 design, not produced in series and fitted on replica craft or
craft built for own use.
engines built for own use provided that they are not subsequently placed on
the community market during a period of five years.
When does the Recreational Craft Directive apply?
Any craft or partly completed craft, personal watercraft or product detailed
in the directive must comply with the requirements of the directive before
it is “ …..place[d] on the market…” or put into service, unless the craft or
item falls within the exclusions detailed in Article 1 Section 3 of the RCD.
It is the duty of the following authorities to enforce the Recreational
Craft Directive regulations
Great Britain, weights and measures authorities; and
Northern Ireland, every district council.
Offences and penalties
Any person found guilty of contravening the regulations is liable to either
or both of the following -
for a term not exceeding 3 months
a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale,
Definitions of Boat Design Categories.
‘A’ OCEAN: Designed for extended voyages where conditions may exceed
wind force 8 (Beaufort scale) and significant wave heights of 4 m and above
but excluding abnormal conditions, and vessels largely self-sufficient.
‘B’ OFFSHORE: Designed for offshore voyages where conditions up to,
and including, wind force 8 and significant wave heights up to, and
including, 4 m may be experienced.
‘C’ INSHORE: Designed for voyages in coastal waters, large bays,
estuaries, lakes and rivers where conditions up to, and including, wind
force 6 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 2 m may be
‘D’ SHELTERED WATERS: Designed for voyages on sheltered coastal
waters, small bays, small lakes, rivers and canals when conditions up to,
and including, wind force 4 and significant wave heights up to, and
including, 0.3 m may be experienced, with occasional waves of 0.5 m maximum
height, for example from passing vessels.
THE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS
2. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
2.1. Craft identification - Each craft shall be marked with an
identification number including the following information:
2.2. Builder's plate - Each craft shall carry a permanently affixed
plate mounted separately from the boat hull identification number,
containing the following information:
design category according to section 1,
maximum recommended load excluding weight of the contents of the fixed tanks
of persons recommended by the manufacturer for which the boat was designed
to carry when under way.
2.3. Protection from falling overboard and means of reboarding -
Depending on the design category, craft shall be designed to minimize the
risks of falling overboard and to facilitate reboarding.
2.4. Visibility from the main steering position - For motor boats,
the main steering position shall give the operator, under normal conditions
of use (speed and load), good all-round visibility.
2.5. Owner's manual - Each craft shall 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. This manual should draw particular attention to risks of fire
and flooding and shall contain the information listed in sections 2.2, 3.6
and 4 as well as the unladen weight of the craft in kilograms.
3. INTEGRITY AND STRUCTURAL REQUIREMENTS
3.1. Structure - The choice and combination of materials and its
construction shall ensure that the craft is strong enough in all respects.
Special attention shall be paid to the design category according to section
1, and the manufacturer's maximum recommended load in accordance with
3.2. Stability and freeboard - The craft shall have sufficient
stability and freeboard considering its design category according to section
1 and the manufacturer's maximum recommended load according to section 3.6.
3.3. Buoyancy and flotation - The craft shall be constructed to
ensure that it has buoyancy characteristics
appropriate to its design category, and the manufacturer's maximum
recommended load according to section 3.6. All habitable multihull craft
shall be so designed as to have sufficient buoyancy to remain afloat in the
inverted position. Boats of less than six metres in length that are
susceptible to swamping when used in their design category shall be provided
with appropriate means of flotation in the swamped condition.
3.4. Openings in hull, deck and superstructure - Openings in hull,
deck(s) and superstructure shall not impair the structural integrity of the
craft or its weathertight integrity when closed. Windows, portlights, doors
and hatchcovers shall withstand the water pressure likely to be encountered
in their specific position, as well as point loads applied by the weight of
persons moving on deck. Through hull fittings designed to allow water
passage into the hull or out of the hull, below the waterline corresponding
to the manufacturer's maximum recommended load according to section 3.6,
shall be fitted with shutoff means which shall be readily accessible.
3.5. Flooding - All craft shall be designed so as to minimize the
risk of sinking. Particular attention should be paid where appropriate to:
and wells, which should be self-draining or have other means of keeping
water out of the boat
of water by pumps or other means.
3.6. Manufacturer's maximum recommended load - The manufacturer's
maximum recommended load (fuel, water, provisions, miscellaneous equipment
and people (in kg)) for which the boat was designed shall be determined
according to the design category, stability and freeboard (section 3.2) and
buoyancy and flotation (section 3.3).
3.7. Liferaft stowage - All craft of categories A and B, and craft of
categories C and D longer than six metres shall be provided with one or more
stowage points for a liferaft (liferafts) large enough to hold the number of
persons the boat was designed to carry as recommended by the manufacturer.
This (these) stowage point(s) shall be readily accessible at all times.
3.8. Escape - All habitable multihull craft over 12 metres long shall
be provided with viable means of escape in the event of inversion. All
habitable craft shall be provided with viable means of escape in the event
3.9. Anchoring, mooring and towing - All craft, taking into account
their design category and their characteristics
shall be fitted with one or more strong points or other means capable of
safely accepting anchoring, mooring and towing loads.
4. HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS
The manufacturer shall ensure that the handling characteristics of the craft
are satisfactory with the most powerful engine for which the boat is
designed and constructed. For all recreational marine engines, the maximum
rated engine power shall be declared in the owner's manual in accordance
with the harmonised standard.
5. INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS
5.1. Engines and engine spaces
5.1.1. Inboard engine - All inboard mounted engines shall be placed
within an enclosure separated from living quarters and installed so as to
minimize the risk of fires or spread of fires as well as hazards from toxic
fumes, heat, noise or vibrations in the living quarters.
Engine parts and accessories that require frequent inspection and/or
servicing shall be readily accessible.
The insulating materials inside engine spaces shall be non-combustible.
5.1.2. Ventilation - The engine compartment shall be ventilated. The
dangerous ingress of water into the engine compartment through all inlets
must be prevented.
5.1.3. Exposed parts - Unless the engine is protected by a cover or
its own enclosure, exposed moving or hot parts of the engine that could
cause personal injury shall be effectively shielded.
5.1.4. Outboard engines starting - All boats with outboard engines
shall have a device to prevent starting the engine in gear, except:
the engine produces less than 500 newtons (N) of static thrust;
the engine has a throttle limiting device to limit thrust to 500 N at the
time of starting the engine.
5.1.5. Personal watercraft running without driver - Personal
watercraft shall be designed either with an automatic engine cut-off or with
an automatic device to provide reduced speed, circular, forward movement
when the driver dismounts deliberately or falls overboard.
5.2. Fuel system
5.2.1. General - The filling, storage, venting and fuel-supply
arrangements and installations shall be designed and installed so as to
minimize the risk of fire and explosion.
5.2.2. Fuel tanks - Fuel tanks, lines and hoses shall be secured and
separated or protected from any source of significant heat. The material the
tanks are made of and their method of construction shall be according to
their capacity and the type of fuel.
All tank spaces shall be ventilated.
Petrol fuel shall be kept in tanks which do not form part of the hull and
from the engine compartment and from all other source of ignition;
from living quarters.
Diesel fuel may be kept in tanks that are integral with the hull.
5.3. Electrical system - Electrical systems shall be designed and
installed so as to ensure proper operation of the craft under normal
conditions of use and shall be such as to minimize risk of fire and electric
Attention shall be paid to the provision of overload and short-circuit
protection of all circuits, except engine starting circuits, supplied from
Ventilation shall be provided to prevent the accumulation of gases which
might be emitted from batteries. Batteries shall be firmly secured and
protected from ingress of water.
5.4. Steering system
5.4.1. General - Steering systems shall be designed, constructed and
installed in order to allow the transmission of steering loads under
foreseeable operating conditions.
5.4.2. Emergency arrangements - Sailboat and single-engined inboard
powered motor boats with remote controlled rudder steering systems shall be
provided with emergency means of steering the craft at reduced speed.
5.5. Gas system - Gas systems for domestic use shall be of the
vapour-withdrawal type and shall be designed and installed so as to avoid
leaks and the risk of explosion and be capable of being tested for leaks.
Materials and components shall be suitable for the specific gas used to
withstand the stresses and exposures found in the marine environment.
Each appliance shall be equipped with a flame failure device effective on
all burners. Each gas-consuming appliance must be supplied by a separate
branch of the distribution system, and each appliance must be controlled by
a separate closing device. Adequate ventilation must be provided to prevent
hazards from leaks and products of combustion.
All craft with a permanently installed gas system shall be fitted with an
enclosure to contain all gas cylinders. The enclosure shall be separated
from the living quarters, accessible only from the outside and ventilated to
the outside so that any escaping gas drains overboard. Any permanent gas
system shall be tested after installation.
5.6. Fire protection
5.6.1. General - The type of equipment installed and the layout of the
craft shall take account of the risk and spread of fire. Special attention
shall be paid to the surroundings of open flame devices, hot areas or
engines and auxiliary machines, oil and fuel overflows, uncovered oil and
fuel pipes and avoiding electrical wiring above hot areas of machines.
5.6.2. Fire-fighting equipment - Craft shall be supplied with
fire-fighting equipment appropriate to the fire hazard, or the position and
capacity of fire fighting equipment appropriate to the fire hazard shall be
indicated. The craft shall not be put into service until the appropriate
fire fighting equipment is in place. Petrol engine enclosures shall be
protected by a fire extinguishing system that avoids the need to open the
enclosure in the event of fire. Where fitted, portable fire extinguishers
shall be readily accessible and one shall be so positioned that it can
easily be reached from the main steering position of the craft.
5.7. Navigation lights - Where navigation lights are fitted, they
shall comply with the 1972 Colreg or CEVNI regulations, as appropriate.
5.8. Discharge prevention and installations facilitating the delivery
ashore of waste Craft shall be constructed so as to prevent the
accidental discharge of pollutants (oil, fuel, etc) overboard.
Craft fitted with toilets shall have either:
to fit holding tanks.
Craft with permanently installed holding tanks shall be fitted with a
standard discharge connection to enable pipes of reception facilities to be
connected with the craft discharge pipeline. In addition, any
through-the-hull pipes for human waste shall be fitted with valves which are
capable of being secured in the closed position.
B. ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR EXHAUST EMISSIONS FROM PROPULSION ENGINES
Propulsion engines shall comply with the following essential requirements
for exhaust emissions.
1. ENGINE IDENTIFICATION
1.1. Each engine shall be clearly marked with the following
manufacturer's trademark or trade-name,
type, engine family, if applicable,
unique engine identification number,
marking, if required under Article 10.
1.2. These marks must be durable for the normal life of the engine
and must be clearly legible and indelible. If labels or plates are used,
they must be attached in such a manner that the fixing is durable for the
normal life of the engine, and the labels/plates cannot be removed without
destroying or defacing them.
1.3. These marks must be secured to an engine part necessary for
normal engine operation and not normally requiring replacement during the
1.4. These marks must be located so as to be readily visible to the
average person after the engine has been assembled with all the components
necessary for engine operation.
2. EXHAUST EMISSION REQUIREMENTS Propulsion engines shall be
designed, constructed and assembled so that when
correctly installed and in normal use, emissions shall not exceed the limit
values declared by the directive.
3. DURABILITY - The manufacturer of the engine shall supply engine
installation and maintenance instructions, which if applied should mean that
the engine in normal use will continue to comply with the above limits
throughout the normal life of the engine and under normal conditions of use.
This information shall be obtained by the engine manufacturer by use of
prior endurance testing, based on normal operating cycles, and by
calculation of component fatigue so that the necessary maintenance
instructions may be prepared by the manufacturer and issued with all new
engines when first placed on the market.
The normal life of the engine is considered to mean:
or stern drive engines with or without integral exhaust: 480 hours or 10
years, whichever occurs first;
watercraft engines: 350 hours or 5 years, whichever occurs first;
engines: 350 hours or 10 years, whichever occurs first.
4. OWNER'S MANUAL - Each engine shall be provided with an Owner's
Manual in the Community language or languages, which may be determined by
the Member State in which the engine is to be marketed. This manual shall:
instructions for the installation and maintenance needed to assure the
proper functioning of the engine to meet the requirements of paragraph 3,
the power of the engine when measured in accordance with the harmonised
C. ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NOISE EMISSIONS
Recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engines without integral
exhaust, personal watercraft and outboard engines and stern drive engines
with integral exhaust shall comply with the following essential requirements
for noise emissions.
1. NOISE EMISSION LEVELS
1.1. Recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engines without
integral exhaust, personal watercraft and outboard engines and stern drive
engines with integral exhaust shall be designed, constructed and assembled
so that noise emissions measured in accordance with tests defined in the
harmonised standard shall not exceed the limit values set by the directive.
1.2 As an alternative to sound measurement tests, recreational craft
with inboard engine configuration or stern drive engine configuration,
without integral exhaust, shall be deemed to comply with these noise
they have a Froude number of 1.1 and a power displacement ration of 40 and
where the engine and exhaust system are installed in accordance with the
engine manufacturer's specifications.
1.3 "Froude number" shall be calculated by dividing the maximum boat
speed V (m/s.) by the square root of the waterline length lwl (m.)
multiplied by a given gravitational constant, (g = 9,8 m/s2).
"Power displacement ratio" shall be calculated by dividing the engine power
P (kW) by the boat's displacement D
1.4 As a further alternative to sound measurement tests, recreational
craft with inboard or stern drive engine configurations without integral
exhaust, shall be deemed to comply with these noise requirements if their
key design parameters are the same as or compatible with those of a
certified reference boat to tolerances specified in the harmonised standard.
1.5 "Certified reference boat" shall mean a specific combination of
hull/inboard engine or stern drive engine without integral exhaust that has
been found to comply with the noise emission requirements, when measured in
accordance with section 1.1, and for which all appropriate key design
parameters and sound level measurements have been included subsequently in
the published list of certified reference boats.
2. OWNER'S MANUAL - For recreational craft with inboard engine or
stern engines with or without integral exhaust and personal watercraft, the
Owner's Manual required under Annex 1.A Section 2.5, shall include
information necessary to maintain the craft and exhaust system in a
condition that, insofar as is practicable, will ensure compliance with the
specified noise limit values when in normal use.
For outboard engines, the Owner's Manual required under Annex 1.B.4 shall
provide instructions necessary to maintain the outboard engine in a
condition, that insofar as is practicable, will ensure compliance with the
limit values when in normal use.