Recreational Craft Directive


94/25/EC was the reference of the original RCD which became optional in June 1996 and mandatory on 16 June 1998.


2003/44/EC was the reference to the update of the original RCD which became mandatory on 1 January 2006.


2013/53/EU is the new RCD (often called RCD II) that replaces the previous directive and its amendment. It becomes mandatory on 18th January 2017.


The following craft are within the scope of the European Recreational Craft Directive (RCD):

  • recreational craft and partly completed recreational craft;
  • personal watercraft (PWC) and partly completed personal watercraft;
  • propulsion engines which are installed or specifically intended for installation on or in watercraft;
  • propulsion engines installed on or in watercraft that are subject to a major engine modification;
  • watercraft that are subject to major craft conversion.


In addition to craft, the following products (if prefabricated), fitted on European recreational craft, are also within the scope:

  • Ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive petrol engines and petrol tank spaces;

  • Start-in-gear protection devices for outboard engines;
  • Steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies;
  • Fuel tanks intended for fixed installations and fuel hoses;
  • Prefabricated hatches, and port lights.


European based vessels or components within the scope of the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) must have a CE marking and conform to the directive. Some of the above components do not need CE marks if fabricated with the boat.


Contact CEproof for details.


There are certain types of vessel excluded from the European RCD, including:


  • watercraft intended solely for racing, including rowing racing boats and training rowing boats, labelled as such by the manufacturer;
  • canoes and kayaks designed to be propelled solely by human power, gondolas and pedalos;
  • surfboards designed solely to be propelled by wind and to be operated by a person or persons standing;
  • surfboards;
  • original historical watercraft and individual replicas thereof designed before 1950, built predominantly with the original materials and labelled as such by the manufacturer;
  • experimental watercraft, provided that they are not placed on the Union market;

  • watercraft built for own use, provided that they are not subsequently placed on the Union market during a period of five years from the putting into service of the watercraft;
  • watercraft specifically intended to be crewed and to carry passengers for commercial purposes, without prejudice to paragraph 3, regardless of the number of passengers;
  • submersibles;
  • air cushion vehicles;
  • hydrofoils;
  • external combustion steam powered watercraft, fuelled by coal, coke, wood, oil or gas;
  • amphibious vehicles, i.e. wheeled or track-laying motor vehicles, which are able to operate both on water and on solid land;


New or second-hand vessels that were built/put into service/put on the market within the EEA before 16th June 1998 are excluded. Note that second-hand vessels will have to comply if imported to the EEA after these dates, even if they were built before 1998.