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Summaries of EU Legislation

Maritime safety: marine equipment

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Maritime safety: marine equipment


Directive 96/98/EC - Marine equipment



It lays down rules to ensure the safety and quality of marine equipment carried on board ships flying the flags of EU countries.

These rules increase safety on board, contribute to tackling marine pollution and seek to ensure the free movement of marine equipment within the EU's internal market.


This Directive applies to equipment for use:

on existing EU-flagged ships

on new EU-flagged ships, even if they were constructed outside of the EU;

Conformity assessment

EU countries appoint bodies responsible for assessing the conformity of marine equipment. This assessment aims to ensure the quality of the equipment before it is placed on the market and when it is placed on board;

Equipment conforming to European standards must bear a mark.

Where a vessel, which is to be transferred to the register of an EU country is not registered in the EU, the EU country must inspect the actual condition of the equipment and whether it complies with EU standards.

Non-compliant equipment

If a piece of equipment risks compromising the health and/or safety of the crew or passengers, or damaging the marine environment, the EU country responsible must withdraw it from the market and prohibit or restrict its use.

Testing standards

Marine equipment requires international testing standards to be adopted. In cases where international organisations do not adopt standards within a reasonable timescale, EU standards may be applied.


It entered into force on 17 February 1997. EU countries had to incorporate it in national law by 30 June 1998.

Directive 2014/90/EU repeals Directive 96/98/EC with effect from 18 September 2016.


Maritime transport: Modern marine equipment rules for safer EU ships


Council Directive 96/98/EC of 20 December 1996 on marine equipment (OJ L 46, 17.2.1997, pp. 25–56)

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 96/98/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for information only.


Directive 2014/90/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on marine equipment and repealing Council Directive 96/98/EC (OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, pp. 146–185)

last update 12.11.2015