The Recreational Craft Directive

Purpose and application

The Recreational Craft Directive has been introduced by the The European Commission to ensure a harmonized standard of safety in the design and manufacture of recreational craft throughout the European Economic Area.

The Directive applies to all craft intended to be used for sporting and recreational purposes with a hull length of between 2.5 and 24 metres. Certain particular items of equipment are also covered, including ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive engines; start-in-gear protection devices for outboard engines; steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies; fuel tanks and fuel hoses and prefabricated hatches and portlights.


There are also certain specific exclusions from the Directive. The Directive does not apply to: Craft built for use by the builder are also excluded from the Directive provided they are not subsequently placed on the market for at least five years.

Administrative requirements

The Directive has both administrative and protection requirements. The administration requirements are that the product be CE marked. The Directive also lays down requirements for type testing and/or quality control procedures. These are set out in a series of 'modules' and are based on the size of the craft and whether any of the appropriate harmonized standards have been used when designing the craft.

Protection requirements

The Directive lays out the essential requirements of recreational craft in some depth. These are based upon the conditions for which the craft has been designed to be used:

In all there are thirty separate headings under which safety requirements are listed. These include requirements for marking, stability, fire protection, gas equipment, engine protection and many other items. Some are already the subject of harmonized standards, while others have standards in preparation.

Implementation dates

The Directive came into force on 16 June 1996, with a transition period which ends on 15 June 1998. This means that until 16 June 1998, manufacturers may continue to sell craft complying with the appropriate national regulations within the EU but such craft must not be CE marked.

Further information

This brief description of the Directive necessarily does not contain all the requirements or exclusions. For further information or assistance with CE marking your products, please contact us by telephone, fax or e-mail and we will be pleased to do what we can to help.


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