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First lets clear up something.  The RCD applies to those states which make up the European Economic Area (EEA).  The EEA comprises those states in the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

In theory, implementation and enforcement of the RCD should be uniform across all EEA states but the reality is that enforcement and interpretation varies considerably and is changing.  Therefore you should NEVER assume that just because you've exported a boat to an EEA country before, that it will be the same now.  Check with us first.

For RCD purposes the EEA extends to those territories still part of the various empires of yesteryear.  Thus, several islands in the Caribbean are still EEA territories and may afford exemption from the RCD.  To get a full picture check out our EEA Territories page.


The US is a huge country and to many Americans Europe seems small enough to be treated as one.   Be careful.  Although the EU is theoretically one economic area with a set of high level rules dictated from Brussels the fact is that most legislation is determined locally and certainly enforced on this basis.  Moving craft through different countries can be a nightmare as rules over width and height receive varying application.  In Italy for example anything over 9' beam (actually less but normally accepted) needs permits and guess what, Italian hauliers get these no trouble whilst the rest of us pay over the odds and can wait six weeks for them to come though.  Even within a country the regulations can vary.  La Spezia Port in Italy for example is strict on CE and won't let craft leave the dock without certification.  Up the coast at Genoa Port and a relaxed approach allows you to collect and process the CE later. 

Shipping to / within Europe

It's no surprise that some routes are Direct whilst others are like a bus trip around the villages, slow, slow, slow.  Shipping from the US to Southampton can be direct and relatively fast.  Shipping to Lisbon (Portugal) from the US is the opposite as Lisbon is normally the last port prior to returning to the US AFTER having gone into and around the Mediterranean Ports.

Shipping often operates on a hub and spoke model with a few key hub ports from which cargo is transhipped for onward delivery.  Bremerhaven (Germany) is a typical hub Port and several of the cheaper lines will tranship here.  The impact of this can be additional cost and unpredictable delays late on.

Written By: Rowland Smith

Rowland Smith is a Naval Architect and founder of Gablemarine.  His industry experience includes Lloyds Register, British Shipbuilders Hydrodynamics Ltd, Cammell Lairds, BP Shipping Ltd & Conoco.  He has a degree in Naval Architecture, a Diploma in Marketing (CIM) and an MBA (Cranfield School of Management).  He has also held Director level positions in a number of technology and engineering companies, including CEproof, which provides RCD compliance software to builders. 

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