The new EU Watercraft Directive (formerly known as the Recreational Craft Directive or RCD) 2013/53/EU came into effect today.

The new rules are applicable to boating professionals intending to manufacture, import, distribute and sell products on the EU.


Some of the key changes to the essential safety and environmental requirements to carefully consider in terms of the new Directive are as follows:


  • Design Categories (A, B, C, D) no longer have a descriptor and are determined by the wind force (in Beaufort Scale) and significant wave height.
  • The composition of the Watercraft Identification Number (WIN), previously called the CIN has been changed and the Manufacturers Identification Code (MIC) needs to be assigned by the national authority of a Member State within the EU. This means that manufacturers located in Non-European countries will no longer be able to apply for this code from the national authority in their own country if exporting to Europe but shall request it from a national authority in the EU.
  • A means of re-boarding a craft after falling overboard needs to be accessible from the person in the water.
  • Good all-round visibility from the main steering position on motor, and now also, sailing craft needs to be carefully considered.
  • All black water discharge on a craft need to be connected directly to a holding tank or water treatment system and no ‘Y-valves’ are allowed to be inserted between the two.
  • Emphasises the requirements needed to complete a Post Construction Assessment (PCA) – for private imports only.
  • Total engine (both diesel and petrol) exhaust emission limits have been further reduced and are now in-line with USA (EPA & CARB) requirements.


The obligations and responsibilities of all economic operators, i.e. manufacturers, importers (both commercial and private ones) and distributors have been further defined in the new Directive. It requires boat, personal watercraft and engine manufacturers to keep a technical file on all relevant data, and to officially declare the compliance of their product using a declaration of conformity template (DoC), to affix the CE marking to it, and to inform users about safe use and maintenance. Importers and Distributors have an obligation to ensure these processes are completed before placing on the EU market and Importers will need to add their name, trademark and contact details to the craft or product.

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