The UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has launched a consultation on a new Code of Practice for Intended Pleasure Vessels in Temporary Commercial Use and Pleasure Vessel Exemptions.

The new Code is described as one of the biggest pieces of regulatory change for the UK marine industry since the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD). British Marine members are being encouraged to review and comment on the new draft Code.

Over recent 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.

Ross Wombwell, British Marine’s technical manager, 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.

“Now we need members and owners,” he added, “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 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.

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.

The closing date for the consultation is September 26, 2018. Those interested in responding should send comments to or write to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), Marine Technology Branch, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Rd, Southampton, Hants. SO15 1EG.