RCD Explained

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CE - what's it all about?

The following is taken from an article jointly prepared with CEproof for the Yachtworld.com magazine.

Why a CE mark

CE marking is required on recreational craft in order to demonstrate compliance with the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) which became law across the EEA on 16 June 1998.

Does your (intended) craft need a CE plate?

This largely depends on the age, location and history of the craft. The starting point is to recognise that the RCD applies to all recreational craft (with few exceptions) between 2.5m and 24m at the first point of sale or use of a craft in the European Economic Area (EEA) – whichever comes first.

So, in brief, craft:

  • built within the EEA after 16/6/98 must be CE marked.
  • imported from outside the EEA (eg USA) which have not been in EEA waters prior to 16/6/98 must be CE marked.
  • put into service within the EEA before 16/6/98 are exempt from the RCD and unlikely to carry a CE plate.

 Any recreational craft must either be exempt or compliant. If not exempt a craft should come with RCD related documents, including Owners Manual (OM), Declaration of Conformity (DoC) and CE Plate.  For craft assessed as a Post Construction Assessment (PCA) you should also expect to find a new craft identification number (CIN, formally HIN) and a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) issued by a Notified Body. 

These should be available to the buyer / broker at the point of sale and the CE Plate should be visible next to the helm position.

CE marking process

The process is relatively straightforward and normally takes three weeks from initial inspection to completion.  In the case of imported craft these always (since 1/1/06) undergo a Post Construction Assessment (PCA) that involves the Client (you), a Notified Body (NoBo) and normally a Specialist Assessor such as Gablemarine.  The Assessor works on behalf of the Client.  They inspect the craft (normally a full day or two) and then create a Technical Compliance File (TCF).  This 100+ page document details how the craft conforms to the RCD.  Some of the content is derived through calculation whilst the remainder involves the Assessor making written statements about how particular clauses are met.   The TCF also includes a list of any non-conformities and typically a whole load of photos of the craft.

The Assessor gives the list of non-conformities to the client who undertakes to have them rectified.

The Assessor sends the TCF to the Notified Body (NoBo) who effectively 'marks' the assessment and if satisfied, issues a Certificate of Conformity (CoC).  In parallel the Assessor creates an Owners Manual (OM) based on the TCF.  The CoC along with the Owners Manual, Declaration of Conformity (DoC),  CE Marking plate and details of the new CIN (Craft Identification Number, formally called a HIN) are then given to the Client.  At Gablemarine we also archive the TCF and an image of the certificate for 10 years, just to be safe. Our archive service is provided free of charge.

Can I get a quick heads up?

Yes, we can provide a pre-CE assessment based on key data requested from the selling broker.  This service is designed to provide an initial assessment of the level of difficulty anticipated in gaining compliance and addresses those elements most costly to correct.  This service is available to all at minimal cost. 

For details of our CE marking services please go to our CE Marking pages.

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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