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Technical Requirements for Inland Waterways Vessels

In 2015 the European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (Comité Européen pour l’Élaboration de Standards dans le Domaine de Navigation Intérieure – CESNI) was set up under the auspices of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR) with the goal to harmonise the technical requirements for inland waterways vessels applicable on the River Rhine and in the EU (EU Directive 2006/87/EC, as amended, often known as the TRIWV Directive).

Although the Annexes to Directive 2006/87/EC incorporated most of the provisions laid down in the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations in the version approved in 2004, with the different legal frameworks and the frequency with which the CCNR Regulations were updated, it was proving difficult to maintain equivalence between the navigation certificates issued in accordance with Directive 2006/87/EC and those issued by CCNR.

CESNI brings together experts from the Member States of the EU and the CCNR and representatives of international organisations with an interest in inland navigation with a view to simplifying procedures in the field of regulating inland navigation. It is actively developing the European Standard laying down Technical Requirements for Inland Navigation vessels (ES-TRIN). In addition to its work on Technical Requirements, CESNI also develops standards relating to professional qualifications in inland navigation.

CESNI standards

In order to incorporate the ES-TRIN standards developed by CESNI into EU law, a directive which sets out the procedure for the application of uniform standards for inland navigation across Europe was drafted. By 7 October 2018 EU Directive 2016/1629 of 14 September 2016 laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels, amending Directive 2009/100/EC and repealing Directive 2006/87/EC should have been brought into force in all addressed EU Member States.

The first ES-TRIN standard 2015/1 adopted by CESNI is incorporated into EU law by the new Directive 2016/1629 and the structure of the new Directive will make the procedure for updating technical requirements quicker as updates will simply require a Commission delegated act. The intention is to update ES-TRIN biennially.

As Directive 2006/87/EC did, Directive 2016/1629 applies to vessels having a length of 20 metres or more (length means the maximum length of the hull in metres excluding rudder and bowsprit); it also applies to vessels for which the product of length, breadth and draught is a volume of 100 cubic metres or more. The Directive is therefore applicable to UK registered recreational craft over 20 metres in length or with a volume over 100m3 which operate on Community inland waterways. The Directive does not apply to seagoing ships which operate or are based on tidal waters or to seagoing ships which operate temporarily on inland waterways provided they carry certain documentation, as detailed in the Directive.

Owners of historic vessels should refer to Chapter 24 of ES-TRIN.

Vessels to which the Directive applies are subject to a technical inspection and issued with a Union Inland Navigation Certificate (UINC) by a competent authority. The UK does not issue UINCs. UK boaters whose vessels need to comply with the Directive have to use a competent authority in another EU country. The Directive also stipulates that a unique European Vessel Identification Number (ENI) is entered on to the Certificate.

The RYA is appointed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency as the competent authority in the UK for issue of ENI numbers. A vessel can only ever be attributed one number which remains with it for its lifetime. If you need to apply for an ENI number, please email eni@rya.org.uk to request an application form.

The issue of an ENI of itself does not involve any assessment of seaworthiness or hull condition, so it gives no indication as to the condition of a vessel, nor does it mean that your vessel complies with the Directive.

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