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Recreational craft

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'Reducing air pollution from leisure boats and personal watercraft' for an updated information about the subject.

Recreational craft

This directive specifies the safety and environmental requirements for pleasure craft and their propulsion engines. The directive is based on the principles of the "New Approach to Technical Harmonisation and Standardisation". In line with this new approach, the design and manufacture of pleasure craft and some of their components and propulsion engines are subject to essential safety and environmental requirements.


Directive 94/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 1994 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to recreational craft [See amending acts].


This Directive aims to harmonise the laws, regulations and administrative provisions in the Member States as regards the safety characteristics of recreational craft * and their environmental characteristics.


The Directive apples to three different areas:

  • the design and construction of recreational craft, partly completed boats, other personal watercraft * and certain components or parts mentioned by the Directive;
  • exhaust emissions produced by propulsion engines * installed on or in pleasure craft and by other personal watercraft;
  • noise emissions produced by recreational craft with stern drive engines without integral exhausts or inboard propulsion engines, by personal watercraft and by outboard engines and stern drive engines with integral exhaust.

The directive does not apply to craft such as racing craft, canoes, kayaks or gondolas, surfboards or sailing surfboards, original and individual replicas of historical craft, or experimental craft, nor to engines fitted, or intended to be fitted, to such craft.

Also excluded are craft intended to carry passengers for commercial purposes which are covered by Council Directive on technical prescriptions for inland waterway vessels.

Essential requirements and placing on the market

The craft, personal watercraft, components and propulsion engines (hereinafter referred to as "products") must meet the essential requirements with regard to health and safety and the protection of the environment and consumers. The Member States must take all necessary action to ensure that the products can only be placed on the market or put into service if they do not constitute a threat to the health and safety of persons, goods and the environment.

Member States may not prohibit, restrict or impede the marketing or use in their territory of products that fulfil the provisions of the Directive. They shall presume that the products fulfil the essential requirements of the Directive if they comply with the relevant national standards adopted in accordance with the harmonised Community standards.

Conformity assessment

Before the products are produced and marketed, they must, depending on their characteristics, undergo one of the conformity assessment procedures specified in the Directive.

Notified bodies and "CE" marking

Member States must notify the Commission and other Member States of the bodies that they have appointed to carry out the tasks pertaining to the conformity assessment procedures.

The CE marking is to be affixed either by the manufacturer or by his authorised representative established in the European Union. It signifies that the products comply with the Directive's essential requirements and with the assessment procedures it lays down.

Where the products concerned are covered by other Directives relating to other aspects and requiring the CE marking to be affixed, the marking signifies that these products also satisfy the provisions of those other Directives.

Key terms used in the act

  • Recreational craft: any boat of any type intended for sports and leisure purposes of hull length from 2.5m to 24m, measured according to the harmonised standard, regardless of the means of propulsion.
  • Personal watercraft: a vessel less than 4 m in length which uses an internal combustion engine having a water jet pump as its primary source of propulsion and designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing or kneeling on, rather than within the confines of, a hull.
  • Propulsion engine: any spark or compression ignition, internal combustion engine used for propulsion purposes, including two-stroke and four-stroke inboard, stern-drive with or without integral exhaust and outboard engines.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 94/25/EC



OJ L 164 of 30.6.1994

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2003/44/EC



OJ L 214 of 26.8.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003



OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008



OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 94/25/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.


Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations [Official Journal L 204 of 21.07.1998]. This Directive provides for two information procedures, one for standards (voluntary technical specifications) and the other for technical regulations (obligatory technical specifications) on industrial products.

Directive 97/68/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1997 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to measures against the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from internal combustion engines to be installed in non-road mobile machinery [Official Journal L 59 of 27.02.1998].

Council Directive 88/77/EEC of 3 December 1987 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to measures to be taken against the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from compression-ignition engines for use in vehicles, and the emission of gaseous pollutants from positive-ignition engines fuelled with natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas for use in vehicles [Official Journal L 36 of 09.02.1988].

Last updated: 14.06.2011