CE marking and Design Category: all you need to know


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Marcature CE e Categorie di Progettazione - Conoscere i Limiti
CE marking and Design Category – (CC BY-SA 3.0) – Knowing the limits of a boat

The CE marking is not only a guarantee of quality, but is a standard to represent how a product complies with the essential safety requirements of EU regulations. It is therefore not only a safety certification, a consumer protection, but primarily an index. A quality index relating to the entire production cycle. Including design, production, market introduction and use.

CE marking and Design Category

Of course recreational boats, for free marketing within the European Economic Market, are among the cases where CE marking is mandatory. And consequently, certain standards must be met.

In the marking criteria, or similarly, in order to navigate in different marine weather conditions, there are ‘Design Categories‘. And this is the interesting point, because it is these ‘Design Categories’ that establish the operational limits and design criteria that the boat falls into. And so it is here that we find the indices within which the marine weather conditions in which a boat is considered fit to operate are defined. All of this, of course, is certified by special Notified Bodies which, if they ascertain conformity in relation to the prescribed parameters, issue a special certificate: the certificate of conformity.

Design Category – Recreational Boats

Categories therefore indicate the limits within which a boat can operate. Knowing the Design Categories implies knowing the wind strength and sea state within which your boat, or one you are interested in, is able to operate in terms of design and production.

Below are the 4 categories as set out in the Yachting Code:

  • A: all boats that have been designed to withstand winds greater than force 8 (according to the Beaufort scale) and a wave height greater than 4 metres (excluding extreme circumstances such as storms, hurricanes, rogue waves);
  • B: all boats that have been designed to withstand winds of force 8 and a wave height of up to 4 metres;
  • C: all boats that have been designed to withstand winds of force 6 and a wave height of up to 2 metres;
  • D: all boats that have been designed to withstand winds of force 4 and a wave height of up to 0.3 metres.

Boats that are not CE marked, on the other hand, face different limits, and may sail, depending on their rating, without limits from the coast, or up to 6 miles from the coast and without limits in inland waters.

Design Category – Recreational Boats

A > 8 > 4
D UP TO 4 UO TO 0.3


Design Category – Registration-Free Boats

In this case regulations vary slightly. First and foremost, to bear in mind is that, ‘special’ registration-free boats (skates, jetskis, pedalos, sailboards, jet skis, etc.) can only sail within 1 mile of the coast, i.e. not more than 1852 metres.

The others, on the other hand, if equipped with CE marking, may sail within the limits set by the Design Category (A,B,C,D) and in any case within 12 miles from the coast. In this sense, it is indeed necessary to bear in mind that the Design Categories do not indicate a ‘distance limit’, but are relative only to marine weather conditions. Following are the four categories relating to Vessels:

A: navigation without any limit;
B: navigation with wind up to force 8 and waves with significant height up to 4 metres (rough sea);
C: navigation with wind up to force 6 and waves of significant height up to 2 metres (very rough sea);
D: navigation with wind force 4 and waves of significant height up to 0.3 metres.

Boats that do not bear the CE mark, on the other hand, may navigate within 6 miles from the coast or, if approved for navigation without any limits (or recognised as suitable for this by a notified technical body), within 12 miles from the coast. In the latter case, remember that a copy of the type-approval certificate, together with the declaration of conformity or certificate of suitability, must be kept on board for the duration of all navigation.

For more information, consult the official bodies or Annex 2 to Legislative Decree No. 171 of 8 July 2005. on the Recreational Boating Code.


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