When is a commercial craft exempt from CE marking under RCD?

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One of the most common questions posed to HPiVS is whether a commercial boat is exempt from RCD or whether it needs a CE mark.  There is good reason for the confusion.  The RCD states:

The following shall be excluded from the scope of this Directive: …… craft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes.

So many people make the mistake of assuming all craft being used for “commercial purposes” are excluded.  But the EU Commission’s guidance document on RCD states:

chartered, i.e. hired, recreational craft are covered by the Directive, as are recreational craft used for recreational boating training. In both cases, the activity is not a commercial passenger transport activity but one for sports or leisure purposes, even if the craft is hired with crew.

So this means that a boat is not excluded simply because money is exchanging hands for the use of the boat. Further, it is not necessarily exempt if there is a paid crew on board the hired craft.

The key to this conundrum is to focus on the use of the boat. If it is clearly being used for recreation, ie simply for the pleasure of passing some time afloat, then it is in scope, regardless of money or crew. If the hired boat is being used as a mode of transport, or for racing, then it is excluded.  Note also that education/training is not excluded if it relates to using the craft recreationally.

It is not true that a boat is exempt from RCD because it has approval as a commercial vessel.

It should also be remembered that an excluded boat may be sold into the recreational market later in its life. The boat would need to be CE marked at this stage so it may be worthwhile dealing with the commercial approval and CE marking at the same time.  The two regimes will overlap.

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