Major Changes to Regulations for Pleasure Vessels & Temporary Commercial Use

Posted: 3rd August 2018 | Written by: British Marine

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On 1 August 2018, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) published a consultation on a new Code of Practice for Intended Pleasure Vessels in Temporary Commercial Use and Pleasure Vessel Exemptions. This represents one of the most significant regulatory changes for the UK’s marine industry since the review of the Recreational Craft Directive.

For a number of months, British Marine, supported by numerous member companies, has been working alongside the MCA, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA) to create this new simplified legal framework. It will replace the existing complex and cost intensive system for enabling pleasure vessels, when being used at sea outside of the MCA’s pleasure vessel definition, to operate legally.

British Marine’s Technical Manager, Ross Wombwell said, “This Code of Practice for sea-trialling and delivery provides the industry with an affordable and achievable solution, and provides much needed clarity, on what had been a regulatory grey area for our members and boat owners for a number of years. British Marine is rightly proud of the work that it has done, supported by many of its members, alongside the regulator and industry partners.

“Now we need members and owners to review this Code of Practice and let us and the MCA know their thoughts - on the practicalities of applying these new rules, the benefits they bring, the costs involved etc.

“British Marine is on hand to answer any queries from its members on this new Code of Practice and we will be engaging the membership, alongside the MCA, further over the coming months, with Q&As and guidance available at TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show in September.”

Any time a vessel, which is wholly owned by an individual or individuals, is not being used under the legal definition i.e. used only for the sport or pleasure of the owner or the immediate family or friends of the owner, it is being used for commercial purposes. The new framework set out in Part 1 of this Code of Practice for Intended Pleasure Vessels in Temporary Commercial Use at Sea (referred to as the IPV Code) is an addendum to the MCA’s existing Small Commercial Vessel Codes and uses the same underpinning regulations.

This new Code of Practice covers a multitude of operators and their operations at sea, which are considered ‘temporary’ commercial uses. A pleasure vessel will be deemed to be in ‘temporary’ commercial use at sea by the owner, a manufacturer, a broker, a surveyor or a repairer for business purposes whenever it is being used for the following purposes:

  • relating to the repair

  • post-production

  • post-repair or mid-survey sea trials

  • customer sea trials

  • vessel delivery

Any user undertaking any of the above mentioned operations should make sure that the person or company operating the vessel at sea has a means to comply with the IPV Code or an alternative UK commercial seagoing standard. 

For the majority of vessels temporarily in commercial use at sea, all that is required is for the operator of the vessel to have a simple safety management system in place and to self-declare that the vessel meets the standards of the IPV Code. For some operators, however, there will be a requirement to have an MCA audit of the organisation’s safety management system. 

The full text of this document is now available for public consultation. British Marine urges all its members to review the new Code of Practice against their business practices and send any comments to the MCA or British Marine.

If you respond to the MCA, please make sure you copy British Marine in to your response (cc: technical@britishmarine.co.uk)

British Marine has published its own guidance on the British Marine website, explaining what the new Code of Practice means for members which may be involved in the type of operations detailed above. British Marine members can obtain further advice and guidance by contacting the technical team at technical@britishmarine.co.uk.


Consultation Closing Date: 26 September 2018

MCA Draft IPV Code – Consultation Page on GOV.UK

How to respond:

Email: pleasurevessels@mcga.gov.uk

Post: Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Marine Technology Branch, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Rd, Southampton, Hants. SO15 1EG.

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