Small Commercial Yachts Code

Until recently, all yachts in commercial use which are over 15m in length, do not carry cargo and do not carry more than 12 passengers were regulated by the Commercial Yacht Code. With effect from the 1st of April 2024, the Merchant Shipping Directorate has issued a tailor-made small Commercial Yacht Code (sCYC) for yachts under 24m in length, with a minimum 12m hull, which also do not carry more than 12 passengers and are engaged in commercial activities. Yachts falling within Design Category D and RIBs in Design Category C or D, military or state-owned vessels, and yachts owned or operated on non-commercial services do not fall under the sCYC.

The implementation of this new Code has been done to encourage growth in this segment of the market, and to optimise the regulatory regime to meet the changing needs, demands and technologies within the market. The rules of the original code will no longer apply to yachts falling into the abovementioned parameters following the sCYC coming into force, whereas existing small Commercial Yachts which are already certified in accordance with the original Commercial Yacht Code (CYC) must comply with the requirements of the sCYC by the yacht’s first renewal survey to be carried out after the 1st of June 2024. On the completion of the designated surveys and inspections, a vessel complying with the clauses laid down in the sCYC will be issued with a Small Commercial Yacht Certificate by the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen.

The sCYC lays down the standards of safety, pollution prevention and crew welfare to be followed and which are appropriate for the size and use of small Commercial Yachts. In fact, although a number of regulations in the original CYC remain unchanged, such as the section relating to the protection of personnel, parts of the sCYC are more restrictive, such as the rules on sea inlets and overboard discharges, emergency steering arrangements and the required lifesaving equipment and requirements, whereas others allow for a wider interpretation and application, including the design of skylights and bilge systems, the use of outboard petrol engines and smaller capacity batteries, availability of emergency lighting and freeboard and freeboard marking requirements. The narrower application of the code makes it easier for users to understand and implement the relevant regulations. These regulations consider International and EU Regulations and legislation together with industry standards, and in fact parts of the code refer directly to such regulations and legislations, ensuring processes are more streamlined with international standards.

In all cases, the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen may consider specific deviations and exemptions from any standard laid down in the sCYC, however this is always to be done on a case by-case basis and subject to a request for such a deviation or exemption being received.

Similarly to the original CYC, all yachts covered by the sCYC are to be surveyed, certified and maintained to retain the validity of the Small Commercial Yacht Certificate which is valid for five (5) years. These five (5) years may include a requirement of intermediate and renewal surveys.  The crew complement must always be present

onboard during surveys in order to assist with the operation and testing of the necessary equipment and machinery, to perform drills to be carried out by the competent responsible seafarers, and to assist with personal certification and documentation checks.

For a yacht to be considered for certification under the sCYC, a yacht must first be CE certified in conformance with Directive 2013/53/EU. Those which are not shall first undergo a CE Post Construction Assessment / Gap-Analysis by a Notified Body, Recognised Organisation or Appointed Government Surveyor, and in such a case, the issuance of a CE Certificate will not be required, and a statement shall be issued confirming that the yacht is in compliance with Directive 2013/53/EU. Yachts which are certified under the sCYC will not require a Class certificate. 

Yachts registered under the sCYC shall also carry out an Intermediate Survey between the 2nd and 3rd year from the last Initial or Renewal Survey anniversary date – this must be done between three (3) months prior to the 2nd year anniversary date and three (3) months after the 3rd year anniversary date, and in it, all items relating to freeboard, water freeing arrangements and safety shall be checked whereas a full survey and operational test of safety equipment, lifesaving appliances, fire detection and fire-fighting equipment shall be carried out.

Yachts falling under the abovementioned parameters which are already certified under the original CYC shall start being surveyed and certified in line with the sCYC by no later than the yacht’s first renewal survey carried out on or after the 1st of June 2024.

For further information, the sCYC can be found here.

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