Changes to Recreational Craft Directive

Changes to RCD

Are you familiar with the requirements of the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) 2013/53/EU? 


This Directive sets out minimum safety and environmental requirements for recreational craft between 2.5m and 24m and personal watercraft, which guarantee their suitability for sale or use in Europe.

Recent changes are affecting boat owners and consequentially the sale and modification of second hand boats. 

Sale and modification of second hand boats

The have been some changes to the rules applicable to craft that undergo a Major Craft Conversion, together with a better definition of what this actually means. The scope of the new Directive now specifically applies to any watercraft that is subject to Major Craft Conversion (Article 2.1(f)). Major Craft Conversion is defined in Article 3(7) of the Directive and means: a conversion of a watercraft which changes the means of propulsion of the watercraft, involves a major engine modification, or alters the watercraft to such an extent that it may not meet the applicable essential safety and environmental requirements laid down in this Directive.

Article 19(3) of the new Directive places a responsibility on anyone undertaking a Major Craft Modification and states that:  Any person placing on the market or putting into service a propulsion engine or a watercraft after a major modification or conversion thereof, or any person changing the intended purpose of a watercraft not covered by this Directive in a way that it falls under its scope, shall apply the procedure referred to in Article 23 before placing the product on the market or putting it into service.

Article 23 sets out the equivalent conformity assessment based on post-construction assessment (Module PCA) which is provided in Annex V of the new Directive.

What does this mean?

This means that any CE marked vessel* that undergoes a Major Craft Conversion must undergo a Module PCA assessment before being placed back on the market or put into service (whichever is the earlier). The legal responsibility for this is placed on the person who is placing the vessel back on the market or putting it back into service after the Major Craft Conversion has been carried out.

The RYA would advise anyone considering converting a watercraft within the meaning of Major Craft Conversion to as a minimum to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities under the directive with reference to “Major Craft Conversion”.

We would also advise all those who carry out work, all repairs, equipment/system modifications and upgrades on CE marked watercraft to ensure they are carried out to existing standards and make owners aware of their responsibilities under the new directive.

NOTE - Directive 2013/53/EU has not yet been transposed into law in England and Wales, despite a requirement to do that before 18 January 2017. As a result, the RYA advice above is based on what the Directive states. Whilst it is anticipated that the Directive will be implemented without any material changes, this cannot be guaranteed.


*Vessels certified to:

Directive 94/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 1994 as amended by Directive 2003/44/EC; or

Directive 2013/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on recreational craft and personal watercraft and repealing Directive 94/25/EC.


This article was published in April 2017.