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The Recreational Craft Directive is European Legislation.It applies to all NEW boats built for sports or leisure purposes from 2.5m to 24m in length. As such that includes most canal boats.

What is the Recreational Craft Directive?
The RCD as it is commonly known, is a European Directive which sets minimum requirements for boats manufactured, sold and used across the European Union. It has applied since June 1998 to all boats between 2.5 and 24 metres long, with few exceptions such as canoes. The RCD is enforced in the UK by Trading Standards.

What is the Purpose of the RCD?
It sets minimum standards for boat builders from electrical installations to the positioning and marking of CE hull plates.

Areas such as design, strength, handling and stability are all covered. It must be remembered that these are standards for all boats and ships of which canal craft form a relatively small percentage. There are four categories of craft covered by the RCD and canal and river craft fall into Category C and D, which means builders can self certify. Never-the-less all canal boat builders have to observe the regulations.

UK Management of the RCD
In the UK, the British Marine Federation (BMF) represents businesses in the marine industry and provides information, support and assistance on the RCD. The CBA (Canal Boat Builders Association) is the affiliated BMF member organisation that represents canal boat builders here in the UK.

Does the Recreational Craft Directive Apply to You?
If you are privately building a boat for resale within 4 years, you too are subject to ensuring the boat conforms to the RCD. After 4 years the boat becomes subject to regulation under the BSS.

The RCD is under constant review. What applies today may well not apply tomorrow. For builders this is an issue as they have to be aware of the latest developments and changes to regulation.

Ask the Experts, there are no Guesses or Compromises...
If you are interested in finding out more about the RCD, whether for building your own craft for personal pleasure or resale please use the links below.

Click here for The British Marine Federation

Click here for information on the BMF Recreation Craft Directive

Click here for the Canal Boat Builders Association

It is essential if you are buying a new boat or a used boat (that was not already in use in the EU on June 16th 1998) you understand the requirements of the RCD. If a boat does not comply it may be impossible to use, insure or sell. You need to look out for the following:
  • A builders plate - makers details and technical information
  • A CE mark
  • A Craft or Hull Identifcation Number (CIN or HIN) - it is carried in two places on the boat; one should be hidden for security. 
  • An owners manual with information needed to use and maintain the boat safety
  • A declaration of conformity (DoC) 

CE marking is complex and a number of strict criteria have to be adhered to. Importantly the CE plate will have a hull identification number which is then registered with the Canal and River Trust for licensing purposes.
RCD is not only applicable to boat builders, but also to anyone buying a sailaway canal boat or completing a self build. There are special requirements for these type of boats. 

New Regulations January 2017
As of 18th January 2017 boat builders will not be able to issue Annex lll(a) Declaration of Conformities for part-completed craft. A sailaway must be sold CE marked with a full DofC. Shells sold to a professional boat builder for completion have to carry an Annex lll DofC. Further details of the changes can be found in the following section

An eligible boat can only be exempt from the RCD requirements if its classed as a 'home build'. This is a hull or sailaway that is completed by an individual who then keeps it for their private use for a minimum of 5 years (from when the boat is first used on the water). However, the boat would still require a BSS certificate

If you are buying a used self build canal boat, you must ask for proof of the 5 year ownership including BSS certificates, licences, mooring invoices etc. 
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