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The “Pleasure Craft Act”

New and pleasure craft imported from outside the European Union between 2.5 and 24 meters in length must, when put on the market in the Netherlands, have a so-called CE mark. That is a European “label” that the boat meets European requirements in the field of construction, equipment, emissions and environment. For the Netherlands, these rules are translated into the Pleasure Craft Act. This law applies to boat builders and other water sports professionals as well as private individuals. Like Boats For Sale, this law celebrates a 25-year anniversary.

The Pleasure Craft Act was introduced in 1996, with a two-year transition period. As of June 16, 1998, all boats placed in the market had to comply with all CE regulations. Also boats which are professionally partly built have to meet CE requirements for that part. For the homebuilder, the vessel must first be owned for five years before it can be sold or resold without CE marking. Especially around the turn of the century things went wrong with the CE marking, but also nowadays we sometimes come across vessels that (still) do not have CE marking.

Mr. Schippers bought a new sailing yacht and an expert report subsequently revealed: “In view of the 36 (!) shortcomings that have been identified on the basis of the standards declared applicable by the shipyard, I conclude that the vessel does not comply with the European Directive on many essential points”. And: “The vessel does not comply with the legal requirements. This means that the vessel should not have been provided with a declaration of conformity and the CE marking and should not have been placed on the market.” These are no small accusations.

The yard had built a neat prototype and provided it with a CE mark, identification number and classification B. This CE mark then applied to all vessels of the same type. Apparently the yard felt that the series vessels could be finished more easily, resulting in the many CE deficiencies.

It also regularly happened that at Dutch shipyards the prototype of a series was completely CE worthy, but due to all kinds of additional requirements of clients the ships built on the basis of this prototype deviated so much that the CE certification was no longer correct. A yard got away with it because it was allowed to issue a so-called declaration of conformity for this self-built vessel, which meant that the butcher was inspecting his own meat.

The absence of a CE mark is not always fatal, it may also be that it simply has not been requested and then a so-called Post Construction Assessment (PCA) can be performed by a Notified Body to obtain a CE mark.

As a boat owner you definitely want this CE marking, if only because insurance companies are allergic to boats that lack a mandatory CE marking. In addition, putting a vessel on the market without a vessel without CE marking is a so-called ‘economic crime’. It is easy to imagine that if your ship is found to be missing the mandatory CE marking, you will not be able to get rid of it. Therefore, when buying a vessel, a check for CE conformity should always be part of an inspection.

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