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Reducing air pollution from leisure boats and personal watercraft

Reducing air pollution from leisure boats and personal watercraft


Directive 2013/53/EU on recreational craft and personal watercraft



  • It updates legislation covering the design and manufacture of motor and sailing craft.
  • It seeks to ensure that, by complying with the same standards, there is fair competition for these products in the EU market.


The directive lays down requirements for manufacturers, importers and distributors of watercraft and builds on legislation adopted in 2003 which included limits on engine exhaust emissions (CO, HC, NOx and particulates) and noise levels to reflect technological developments that have resulted in improved environmental performance.

Design categories

The new directive specifies design categories (A, B, C and D) for boats, based on suitability for navigation conditions such as ranges of wind force and significant wave height.

CE marking

All watercraft, designated components and propulsion engines are subject to CE marking, indicating that a product complies with the relevant EU legislation. CE marking has to be affixed on the craft builder’s plate, mounted separately from the craft’s identification number in the case of watercraft and directly on the engine in the case of a propulsion engine.

Other essential requirements include:

  • an identification number for each watercraft and a requirement to carry the craft’s builder’s plate;
  • the need for craft to be designed to minimise the risk of falling overboard and to allow for easy reboarding;
  • good all-round visibility for the operator, under normal conditions;
  • a written manual to accompany all craft to ensure their safe use;
  • sufficient structure, stability and buoyancy in accordance with its design category;
  • an emergency stopping device for all tiller-controlled outboard propulsion engines.

Transition period

Manufacturers must comply with the directive’s requirements by 18 January 2017, while small and medium-sized enterprises that manufacture some smaller outboard spark-ignition propulsion engines have until 18 January 2020.


It applies from 17 January 2014. EU countries have to incorporate it into national law by 18 January 2016. It repeals Directive 94/25/EC with effect from 18 January 2016.


Directive 2013/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on recreational craft and personal watercraft and repealing Directive 94/25/EC (OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, pp. 90–131)

Successive amendments to Directive 2013/53/EU have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 24.02.2016