Regulations for Small Craft

A ship is defined by the Merchant Shipping Act as "every description of vessel used in navigation". A discussion on the legal definition of ship is here. Applicability of the law to kite surfers is here.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has defined the legal responsibilities of small recreational craft here. If boats are to be used commercially, and if they carry less than twleve passengers then they have to comply with Codes of Practice. These Codes effectively exempt small craft fro the provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) which is applicable by international agreement to all vessels. Note that the MCA has introduced the Harmonised Code, ie one Code that replaces the four codes referenced above. Legally though, the Harmonised Code is not yet in force.

All boats "put onto the market" in the European Economic Area have to comply with the Recreational Craft Directive. Follow these links...

RYA Introductory Guide - read and answer ten unseen questions

Exclusions from the RCD

Comprehensive list of standards

Guidance as to the technical documentation that is required from the boatbuilder

Example of Owner's Manual that the boatbuilder must supply

Examples of the Declaration of Conformity that the boatbuilder must supply

What happens if you want to import a boat into the EEA

Link to Seafish standards of construction for fishing boats

Info on calculating the scantling numeral

ISO 12215