EU Recreational Craft Directive (RCD)

Oyster 625

Oyster 625 certified by HPi

Official Reference

94/25/EC and amended by 2003/44/EC

Download the EU Commission’s brochure on CE marking recreational craft.

On 28th December 2013, the EU Commission published a new RCD (2013/53/EU) which will replace the current legislation for the CE marking of boats.  For full details of what is to come, click here: details of the new Recreational Craft Directive.

Date of Enforcement

16/06/1998 initially
01/01/2006 amendment

The new RCD will become optional from 18 January 2016 and mandatory from 18th January 2017. For full details click here.


The Directive applies to the design and manufacture (but NOT operation)This means RCD has no requirements on issues such as lifejackets, flares and other safety equipment. of recreational boats & personal watercraft that have a hull length between 2.5m and 24m (8ft 2in to 78ft 8in).
All boats that are within the scope must be assigned a design categoryA=Ocean: B=Offshore: C=Inshore: D=Sheltered waters which is then used to set targets for the assessment of the craft.
The Directive also lists 5 groups of components which are in scope and must be CE marked when placed on the market.

Click here for the full list of components

This Directive shall apply … with regard to design and construction, to:

          1. Ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive engines.
          2. Start-in-gear protection devices for outboard engines.
          3. Steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies.
          4. Fuel tanks intended for fixed installations and fuel hoses.
          5. Prefabricated hatches and portlights.

The Mastercraft X30

The Mastercraft X30 certified by HPi

In addition, the Directive also includes engines that are to be fitted on recreational craft. To earn their CE mark, all engines must meet exhaust emissions criteria and if the engine has an integral exhaust (eg an outboard or sterndrive) then it must also meet noise limits. If the engine does not have an integral exhaust and is fitted to a high speed boat, then the boat manufacturer must demonstrate that the boat & engine together meet the noise limits.


There are a number of exclusions. Many of these refer to craft with an unconventional mode of operation such as hydrofoils and hovercraft.
The exclusion that causes the most confusion is craft for commercial use. For more details, see the FAQ relating to commercial craft.
Craft intended solely for racing are also excluded (if they are labelled as such). If the craft is intended primarily for racing and may cruise from time to time, it is not excluded.

Click here for the full list of exclusions

The following shall be excluded from the scope of this Directive:

(i) craft intended solely for racing, including rowing racing boats and training rowing boats, labelled as such by the manufacturer; (ii) canoes and kayaks, gondolas and pedalos; (iii) sailing surfboards; (iv) surfboards, including powered surfboards; (v) original historical craft and individual replicas thereof designed before 1950, built predominantly with the original materials and labelled as such by the manufacturer; (vi) experimental craft, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community market; (vii) craft built for own use, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Community market during a period of five years; (viii) craft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes, without prejudice to paragraph 3(a), in particular those defined in Council Directive 82/714/EEC of 4 October 1982 laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels (1), regardless of the number of passengers; (ix) submersibles; (x) air cushion vehicles; (xi) hydrofoils; (xii) External combustion steam powered craft, fuelled by coal, coke, wood, oil or gas;

Products are either in scope and must be CE marked or they are outside the scope and may not be CE marked. There is no choice on this issue!

As there is no legal means whereby an excluded product can be CE marked, you may be assured that HPi will confirm, on application, if your product is excluded.


Pearl 75

Pearl 75 certified by HPi

The detailed technical characteristics of the design, materials, production and testing are not laid down in the Directive but in harmonised standardsStandards which have been especially written to support the directive and which have been adopted as national standards by all EU member states..

Conformity with harmonised standards “guarantees” conformity with the directive. Their application, however, is not mandatory. If harmonised standards are not suited to a specific product, any alternative standard or solution may be applied if it ensures equivalent safety. It can be difficult to demonstrate equivalent safety and harmonised standards should be applied wherever possible. HPi can advise on alternative methods.

Click here to visit the EU Commission’s website for an up-to-date list of harmonised standards for RCD.

Conformity Assessment Procedures

The directive has a wide range of Conformity Assessment Modules that define what documentation needs to be compiled and to what extent a Notified Body should be involved. The choice of modules is limited depending upon the risk (i.e. the design category) of the product. HPi will advise on the options upon application.  For further details, download the HPi Guidance Note – RCD Conformity Assessment Modules.

Next Steps

Visit our page on RCD Frequently Asked Questions.
Contact HPi Verification Services
Check our authorisation on the EU Commissions’s web site.