ce mark

CE Mark Boats Europe
Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC

ce mark

The European Recreational Craft Directive became mandatory on 16 June 1998. If you plan to market recreational boats from 2.5 to 24 meters in length in Europe or sell components addressed by the Recreational Craft Directive that will be used in boats sold in Europe and are not yet in conformance with the Recreational Craft Directive and have not yet received the CE mark, we strongly suggest you read this folder of information, contact the appropriate groups and begin the process to be certified in compliance with the Recreational Craft Directive and receive the CE mark as soon as possible.

CE Mark Boats Europe and Recreational Craft Directive is a Polson Enterprises web site.
If you have any questions or comments about the CE program that are not addressed in the materials below, please click on the mailbox and send us your comments. Also if you find any good resources on the CE mark program that we do not have listed, please let us know about them.


Introduction to the CE mark Recreational Craft Directive

by Gary Polson 
Previously, manufacturers often had to create a host of variations of their products in order to meet the specific standards and regulations of several differerent countries in Europe. The purpose of the CE mark is to reduce that confusion, create common standards, and reduce technical barriers to trade.

The European Commission has established a group of requirements called the EU Directives (European Union Directives) which will require goods in certain categories (ie. recreational boats) sold there to confirm to a single document to meet legal requirements of the European Community. Products meeting the directives will be branded with the CE logo shown in the top corners of this document (less the RBBI), which is why the program is referred to as the CE mark. Many additional specifications and standards may be required of the product, but having the CE mark means it is legal. One quote we encountered was, "CE marking does not indicate conformity to a standard, but indicates conformity to the legal requirements of the EU Directives."

The conformance to these EU Directives can be "self assessed" and documented (for some directives) or an outside body called a "Notified Body" can come in and make the assessment, similar to an ISO 9000 assessment. Approved firms are then certified to use the CE mark. Many of the EU Directives require manufacturers to have a quality system to ISO 9000 in operation and use the assistance of a "Notified Body" in order to legitimately apply the CE marking to their product.

Overall, the infrastructure around the CE mark and the Recreational Craft Directive bears many similarities to the infrastructure around ISO 9001, ISO 10,006, ISO 14000, ISO 19011 and ISO/TS 16949, in that a world of consultants have establshed training, auditing, certification, and verification services.

"Notified Bodies" are basically consulting firms that have been certified and approved by the governing bodies to administer the assessments, quite similar to the ISO 9000 program. In Europe, Notified Bodies are appointed by the government of each country. In the United States, the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) oversees the program. Once appointed, each Notified Body can then serve manufacturers all over Europe as well as in the United States and other countries. These firms are certified for specific EU Directives (not all "Notified Bodies" are certified to administer the recreational boat directive.) Most Notified Bodies do provide access to the full set of EU Directives documents and can give you some assistance in getting prepared in areas they are not certified in.

There is another layer of firms called "Competent Bodies" that have approval to assist manufacturers in achieving certification for some EU Directives. Notified Bodies are required for more hazardous situations.

Those firms that "self assess" to meet the Directives are issued a SDOC (Self Declaration of Conformance). Effective 16 June 1998, all boats covered by the Recreational Craft Directive must meet the requirements and bear the CE mark to be sold in the participating European Countries.

The CE Mark Recreational Craft Directive 94/25/EC has been updated (called the "new" RCD) to 2003/44/EC. They remain separate documents. The "new" one extends its coverage to Personal Water Craft (PWC), ammends some requirements, and establishes limits for exhaust emission and sounds.

A combined version of the two regulations is available from the European Union's Recreational Craft Directive web site.

More coverage of the Recreational Craft Directive and related standards for other industries can be found at the EU site, New Approach

The International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) has a Technical Info page on the RCD that provides several helpful tools.

Several of the Recreational Craft Directive standards are now International Standards Organaization (ISO) standards. A listing of corresponding ISO Standards by number is provided by ICOMIA.

General Coverage of the CE mark program is provided by export.gov

The letters "CE" come from the French words "Conformite Europeene".

TWO-TEN News Coverage

A European Online News Service, (http://www.twoten.press.net/ttcmenu.htm) Two-Ten Communications, Published the story below in its June 26 1996 edition (http://www.twoten.press.net/stories/96/06/26/headlines/EU_Boatbuilding_Uk.html).

Two-Ten Communications News
26 June 1996


British manufacturers of recreational craft will now be able to compete on equal terms with their European Union rivals - thanks to the introduction of a European Community Directive (94/25/EC) which has come into force in UK law.

British boat-builders who can implement quickly the procedures necessary for compliance with the Regulations will gain an immediate head-start over competitors who delay and are not well prepared.

The Recreational Craft Regulations 1996 (Statutory Instrument No 1353 of 1996) will remove the need for separate requirements on documentation and testing for individual member states in the Community market.

Manufacturers who have complied with the requirements and put the CE mark on their products may trade freely throughout the Community and without the need for further checks.

Now that the regulations have come into force, manufacturers will have the option of either complying with the new regulations or continuing as before under the current regime until June 16 1998, when the transition period ends and both the EC Directive and the UK Regulations become mandatory.

Contact: Department of Trade & Industry Press Office 0171-215 5962/1 After hours: 0171-215 5110/5600

Michael Clarke Home Page

Michael Clark had some excellent comments on his home page. His page is no longer available. It is archived below in text only form. His page was created May 28 1997.

Recreational Craft Directive or RCD

Directive 94/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 1994

Email from Tom Nighty - BMIF - 19/9/96

Conformance Web Page

"Conformance"(http://www.conformance.co.uk/) is one of the consulting firms assisting boat builders in meeting the Recreational Craft Directive. They have an exceptionally informative web page which presents more information on the specifics of the directive than we have been able to find anywhere else. We strongly encourage you visit their web page on the RCD (http://www.conformance.co.uk/ce_boats.html) and you might also thank them for doing such a good job. We have reproduced only a few minor clips from the site below.

"The Directive applies to all craft intended to be used for sporting and recreational purposes with a hull length of between 2.5 and 24 metres. Certain particular items of equipment are also covered, including ignition-protected equipment for inboard and stern drive engines; start-in-gear protection devices for outboard engines; steering wheels, steering mechanisms and cable assemblies; fuel tanks and fuel hoses and prefabricated hatches and portlights."

"In all there are thirty separate headings under which safety requirements are listed. These include requirements for marking, stability, fire protection, gas equipment, engine protection and many other items. Some are already the subject of harmonized standards, while others have standards in preparation."

Export Observer Article

The UNZ & Co. Export Observer has an exceptional article about the CE mark system (http://www.unzexport.com/observer/nov96/ce.html). It is a "must read". Due to its length, it is not reproduced here. We do list a short clip from it below on "What to Look for in a Notified Body."

Export Observer
November 1996
by Phil Gardiol

What To Look For In A Notified Body

The best way to proceed is to contact a notified body whose qualifications match up with your product, and whose credentials and affiliations match up with your and your target markets. After that there are a number of variables to consider.

Price - Obtain quotes from at least a few Notified Bodies; pricing can vary dramatically from one notified body to the next.

Service - Many Notified Bodies do not provide adequate service; usually due to peak load situations and some simply disregard customer needs.

Consulting - Some Notified Bodies will offer advice in addition to testing to accelerate the process an simplify the process for you. This may include a desk audit of your technical documentation prior to actual submission. Some will not.

ISO 9000 and Product Certification - Very convenient and economical (when both are required) if a notified body can provide both services.

Documentation - Find a notified body that will accept documents in English.

Mutual Recognition - Look for a notified body that will accept ISO 9000 registration from a U.S. registrar to avoid duplicate costs; also , find a notified body that will consider using qualified U.S. based subcontractors for audits to reduce travel related expenses.

"Standard Setting in the European Union"

This article is an excellent source of general information on the CE marking program. The table of contents of this 84 page article includes sections such as: CE mark, Notified Bodies, Placing a Product on the Market, and Testing and Certification. Produced by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), it is their special publication #891 (1997 edition). The article is available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format from the NIST web site (http://www.nist.gov) and from our FTP Page

NIST now provices a European Standards Information page.

Firms Providing Training in the Recreational Craft Directive

Some boating and marine trade associations provide training classes, seminars and related assistance on meeting the Recreational Craft Directive:

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