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Commercial Craft Regulations

Vessels in commercial use for sport or pleasure must be compliant with the relevant Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) "Code of Practice".

The codes of practice detail both the equipment a vessel must have onboard and the certificate of competence required by the skipper (and in some cases the crew) of the vessel. Boat authorised to take fare paying passengers should as a result be well found and equipped with the appropriate safety gear, all in working order.

The RYA is one of a number of organisations approved by the MCA as a a Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) Certification Authority to administer the examination and periodic inspection of small boat in commercial use.

In some cases boats owned by clubs may fall under the codes of practice and in other cases they may be expempt. RYA guidance is offered for clubs.

For boats that are not "going to sea" i.e. remaining within Categorised Waters (as defined in MSN 1837), please refer to the Inland Regulations page.

MCA Codes of Practice

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Codes of Practice for Small Commercial Vessels (SCV) is your guarantee that the boat is sound, well found and equipped with the appropriate safety gear, all in working order. But what does all this mean?

The RYA is one of a number of organisations approved by the MCA as an SCV Certification Authority and already administers the examination and periodic inspection of approximately 800 boats. The requirements of the Codes for vessels up to 24 metres in length was harmonised into one Code in 2003 and is known as MGN 280, which can be viewed on the MCA's website, through the link at the side of this page. The code requires each boat, to be assessed for its stability and to undergo a full, out-of-the water survey, in water survey and a check of its safety equipment prior to certification.

The cost of a simple SCV stability assessment by the RYA starts at £75 per boat when applied for. A full out-of-the-water survey and check of safety equipment covers the structural soundness of the hull, deck, appendages and rig, plus an inspection of machinery, fuel, gas, electrical and steering installations. All the safety equipment specified by the Code is checked to ensure it meets the required minimum standard and has been correctly maintained. This includes fire prevention and fighting equipment and life saving appliances such as lifejackets, liferafts, etc. Again the cost of undertaking this through the RYA is very competitive.

Once the stability assessment is complete and an RYA Examiner has signed off everything included in the survey and checks; the RYA will issue the boat with a stability certificate and full SCV Code certificate, valid for one year. Thereafter, each year the boat will need to undergo a visual inspection afloat, primarily of its equipment. Dependent on the boats area of usage (inshore, offshore, ocean etc) these inspections are carried out either by the owner declaring conformity to the RYA, or by an RYA Inspector. Whatever the case, every boat has to be inspected by an RYA Inspector at least once during its first three years of operation, and be completely resurveyed and certificated every five years.  

Other benefits available from the RYA, linked to SCV Certification; are reduced fees for Tonnage Measurement to facilitate Part I Ships Registration if this is undertaken at the time of the SCV initial out-of-the-water survey. The RYA already offers a Tonnage Measurement service at the lowest set fees within the UK, and with the additional reduction, when undertaken with SCV Coding it makes the service exceedingly attractive. The RYA will also issue, free of charge, a nationally approved sail number to any yacht it SCV codes.

So why certificate a boat? If the boat is British and is to be used commercially at sea it is a requirement that it is SCV Certificated by one of the MCA Certification Authorities such as the RYA. Commercial use broadly means engaged in activities on a commercial basis, even if not for payment, carrying cargo or passengers. Pleasure vessels and club owned boats are excluded from the scope of the Code. It is also possible to gain some tax relief on company-owned commercial boats, and it may well be that the savings outweigh the cost of SCV Certification. Please view our current price lists and forms. If you require additional information please contact us.

The RYA represents the interests of its members and other boat users through membership of the MCA Working Groups drafting and maintaining the above Codes. Should a member have a specific comment or wish a point raised to the MCA in respect of the Codes, then they should contact us. From time to time articles concerning this aspect of RYA work are published in RYA journals, RYA Magazine or Briefing, and through this part of the RYA website.

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