Technical Requirements for Inland Waterways Vessels


The European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (CESNI) brings together experts from the Member States of the European Union, the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR) and representatives of international organisations with an interest in inland navigation.

CESNI 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.

ES-TRIN is updated biennially. Once finalised and officially adopted by CESNI new versions of ES-TRIN are published on the CESNI website.  They are brought into effect on a date mutually agreed between the CCNR and the European Commission (for ES-TRIN 2019 the agreed date is 1 January 2020). This ensures that the technical requirements for inland waterways vessels are harmonised between the River Rhine and the waterways throughout the European Union.

Further afield the regulations are not fully harmonised, although the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is working to align Resolution 61 closely with CESNI.

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 incorporates the ES-TRIN standards developed by CESNI into EU law. The Directive brought the first edition of ES-TRIN 2015/1 into EU law but a Commission delegated act is also needed to bring each subsequent edition into force.

The Directive applies ES-TRIN to vessels:

  1. having a length of 20 metres or more (length means the maximum length of the hull in metres excluding rudder and bowsprit); or
  2. for which the product of length, breadth and draught is a volume of 100 cubic metres or more.

The Directive is applicable to UK registered recreational craft over 20 metres in length or witha 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.

The requirements in Part II off ES-TRIN which recreational craft must meet are detailed in Chapter 26 of ES-TRIN. 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.  A vessel can only ever be attributed one number which remains with it for its lifetime. As the UK is no longer a member of the EU, we no longer have access to the European Hull Database and therefore the RYA is no longer able to issue ENI numbers.  If you need to apply for an ENI number, please contact the competent authority in the Member State where you keep your boat.

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.

Related page

European inland waterways