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Legalities in Boat Ownership: CE Proofing your Vessel

by markbrown

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Buying a recreational vessel goes beyond choosing the model, structural and design specifications. There are certain legalities you have to consider, like CE proofing to ensure the quality and safety of your boat. Certain companies offer assessment and proofing services to determine whether your vehicle is completely suitable for sale and for travel.

Also known as Conformit Europenne or European Conformity, CE is an official marking for European products prior to purchase and usage. CE is a universally recognized symbol which certifies compliance with the European Directive and ISO standards, particularly the Recreational Craft Directive or RCD for boats. The RCD is a comprehensive set of legal provisions that include stability and handling, marks to strength and contraction, and system installation that strictly determine the quality of a vessel.

Typically, an imported boat already possesses CE markings for its parts (pumps, generators, etc.); however these are just for the components and not for the overall vessel. The CE mark is a verification that the boat has fully complied with the RCD, whether it is new or old. Every vessel undergoes a Post Construction Assessment (PCA) to evaluate its performance, and some processes include gas and noise emission tests.

CE proofing further involves the creation of a Technical Construction File or TCF, an all-inclusive report indicating the results of the vessel assessment in accordance with the RCD. The TCF is produced with the use of a special software. Such report isn’t typically intended for the boat owner but rather for the Notified Body who is authorized to issue compliance certificates. Make sure you find a trusted conformity assessment body that provides this service to ensure that you won’t get fraudulent CE markings.

Several types of boats are subject for CE proofing. Depending on the design category of your boat (A, B, C or D – ocean, offshore, inshore and sheltered respectively), each demands specific forms of documentation for CE marking. If you are not familiar with the types of boats, a conformity assessment body can duly process the compliance of your boat to comply with legal requirements.

In a few cases, some vessels may be exempted from RCD requirements. You can ask independent marine industry inspectors about obtaining an RCD Exemption Certificate. To learn more about CE proofing, visit

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