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  • Directive 2013/53/EC on recreational and private boats

Directive 2013/53/EC of 20 November 2013 on recreational craft and personal watercraft repealed Directive 94/25/EC seeking to update the  legislation covering the design and manufacture of motor and sailing yachts, in an attempt to ensure that by having the same standards in place, fair competition is created for these products in the EU market.

The Directive sets out requirements for manufacturers, importers and distributors of watercraft and builds on legislation adopted in 2003 which included limits on engine exhaust emissions (CO, HC, NOx and particulates) and noise levels to reflect technological developments that have resulted in improved environmental performance.

  • Design Categories:

The new directive specifies design categories (A, B, C and D) for boats, based on suitability for navigation conditions such as ranges of wind force and significant wave height.

  • CE marking

All watercraft, designated components and propulsion engines are subject to CE marking, indicating that a product complies with the relevant EU legislation. CE marking has to be affixed on the craft builder’s plate, mounted separately from the craft’s identification number in the case of watercraft and directly on the engine in the case of a propulsion engine.

Other essential requirements include:

an identification number for each watercraft and a requirement to carry the craft’s builder’s plate;

the need for craft to be designed to minimise the risk of falling overboard and to allow for easy reboarding;

good all-round visibility for the operator, under normal conditions;

a written manual to accompany all craft to ensure their safe use;

sufficient structure, stability and buoyancy in accordance with its design category;

an emergency stopping device for all tiller-controlled outboard propulsion engines.


Manufacturers must comply with the directive’s requirements by 18 January 2017, while small and medium-sized enterprises that manufacture some smaller outboard spark-ignition propulsion engines have until 18 January 2020.

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