Boating Code: what changes for boaters from Dec. 22


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Ranieri International SL24
Ranieri International SL24

The press release of Confindustria Nautica announces the publication in the Official Gazette of the long-awaited legislative decree 12.11.2020 no.160 Corrective Amendment” to the Boating Code that will come into effect on Dec. 22, 2020. These are 31 corrections made to the code. Confindustria Nautica highlights the efforts made in the approval process that lasted about 2 years.

But what essentially changes for the yachtsman? What is the meaning of the basic points of the press release from a practical point of view? We went to read the text of the decrees and asked Roberto Neglia, contact person for the Presidency of Confindustria Nautica, for clarification on the ten points that have raised many questions among us boaters. Here, what changes, what doesn’t change, and what will change!

Boating Code

Do the Boat Code corrections really become effective December 22, 2020?

For some points, it is necessary to wait for implementing regulations to be updated; other rules, on the other hand, have direct application because they are already clear in the code and do not need a further implementing decree. Confindustria Nautica has submitted a request to update the implementing regulations in time for the upcoming season.

1) Does it change safety equipment?

For the time being no, the list of safety equipment to be carried on board does not change, but there may soon be a desirable simplifying revision. The revision of safety equipment in the case of navigation limited to the national search and rescue area mentioned in the communiqué refers to the amendment of Article (59, Paragraph 1) of DL 3/11/2017, No. 229. It is added that the common case of “navigation limited to the national search and rescue area, where electronic means of locating are present,” can be considered for the issuance of safety certifications and identification of life-saving equipment. This is the legislative step that allows one to request a simplification of safety equipment when navigating in SAR areas and with use of EPIRBs. Being in fact guaranteed today in the SAR area the rescue in maximum 24h to any unit, it is hoped that the list of mandatory safety equipment can be adjusted to those really useful in the national SAR area, logically inferior to the self-rescue devices of those needed in an ocean crossing for example.

2) Ability to conduct medical examinations directly at license schools. Finally!

Of the long-awaited possibility of taking the medical examination the license directly in the nautical schools we had already talked about it here. The difficulties of conducting the fitness examination, which is only possible at public facilities (e.g., ASLs), causes long waiting times, an unnecessary complication. Medical examination cabinets for the issuance of licenses, may under the new code, also be “set up on the premises of nautical schools and consortia for the activity of nautical schooling that meet suitable sanitary requirements and are accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, provided that the examinations are carried out by physicians who possess the identification code for the issuance of driving licenses.”

So I can go for the medical examination from December 22 to the boating license school under my house? Unfortunately, some patience is still needed, for the effective implementation of this change we will have to wait for the implementation of the implementing decree, but it should be a formality, we will keep you informed.

3) Three years of boat license is needed for occasional chartering.

It becomes effective on December 22. Occasional chartering allows boat owners (remember that occasional chartering does not apply to watercraft), to charter their boat up to a maximum of 42 days per year. With the correction, it was stipulated that the owner must have held a boating license for at least 3 years, this rule was introduced with the intention of increasing safety and protecting those who rent professionally.

4) Fill the gaps in updating administrative procedures to finally make the recreational telematics system operational.

What does it mean? In the old code, some procedures related to the issuance of the provisional navigation license were not covered in the context of those that could be done electronically, that is, they had remained paper-based. With the corrective measure, by going to the telematics counter, the shipowner can now obtain a provisional license, and with that already do crew boarding and VHF equipment licensing, thus being able to sail right away. This shortens the time required to obtain seaworthiness for the unit, one of the factors for which it competed most, for example, the British flag. This rule becomes effective Dec. 22, 2020, but does not impact the issues and timing related to vessel registration via electronic counter, which are more related to current staffing shortages than to legislative gaps.

5) Single national regulations for professional boat rental and leasing

This point relates to professional boat rental, i.e., individuals registered with the chamber of commerce, not to be confused with occasional boat rental (we repeat, occasional boat rental is not covered).

Here are two new features. The first: the new regulations have national and no longer local value. It resolves the absurd situation in which neighboring capitaneries applied different regulations, making it very complicated to charter vessels even for short trips out of town, for example different regulations between Sorrento and Naples for the identical trip to Capri.
The second piece of good news is that the new code, already defines the minimum principles for the operation and insurance of watercraft nationwide by stipulating that: For conducting, a boating license is sufficient, not a seafarer’s title; you can take on board the number of people provided for the pleasure craft as long as it does not exceed a maximum of 12; there is a ‘requirement to have the contract on board. Additional regulations could be issued by the ministry by decree, and they could refine the existing code, but all of these changes take effect on December 22, 2020.

6) Rental at the booth

Charter companies, which specialize in vacations, especially on sailboats, could not perform “cabin chartering,” because the code exclusively defined the concept of chartering the unit, which could only be entered into by single parties. With the correction, the rental of units by multiple independent parties is authorized and with different types of contracts: a different contract for each renter, or the different parties can sign a single rental contract.

7) Provision for dry berth areas in merchant port master plans.

In Article 5, paragraph 2-bis, of Law 28/01/1994, no. 84, it is added that “the port master plan shall identify the state-owned facilities to be used … for dry storage of boats and recreational craft.” Translated into simple terms this means that: every commercial port is required to have a PR master plan, and these PRs will now have to specify what areas are designated for dry berths. Many merchant ports have areas that are no longer used, any private entity can therefore now apply for a state concession to do dry berthing, the new code is the legal instrument to force the port in question to respond to the application by referring to the master plan.

8) Construction sites can register in their own name, go to Km 0

Boat builders can now register the boat to themselves and can use it for activities, e.g., chartering. This opens the market to a model that has existed in the auto market for years, the Kilometer Zero. As a result, the dealer no longer finds himself obliged to keep an unsold new boat locked up, but can exploit it or launch into a new business by earmarking a new boat for rental and then selling it later.

9) National Archives of Recreational Craft Products.

This is a real novelty, protecting both recreational boating product companies and boater safety. If accidents occur on marine products, those products will be blacklisted and banned from the market as noncompliant or dangerous. The consumer is protected because he or she should not be in a position to purchase, even in good faith, a product that has already caused accidents. The honest manufacturer is protected from finding nonconforming or counterfeit competing products in the market. The database will be managed by the Ministry of Transport.

10) Drone navigation

This is a somewhat futuristic regulation, but it fills a regulatory gap by introducing the possibility of commercial activity, or assistance, or towing, or, for example, monitoring a buoy field, can be performed by a drone (remote-controlled craft).

Luigi Gallerani


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