Do I need to code my vessel?

Introduction – what is it?

Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) Coding is a legal requirement for a vessel of up to 24 metres in length that operates commercially. This allows the vessel to carry up to 12 passengers or for any operation with financial gain to the owner. The SCV Code is upheld by Maritime Coastguard agency (MCA) and is for British f lagged vessels only.

Why do I need to code my vessel?

If you charter your boat or use it commercially then you are required to comply with the Codes of Practice to ensure the safety of those on board. Benefits of coding your vessel include:

  • Reclaim all purchases for your charter boat, including berthing costs and, of course, the coding costs
  • All purchases will be offset against tax
  • Your vessel will be altogether much safer having adhered to this code, making it safer for you to use when out with passengers

Coding process

To get a vessel coded, the owner is required to complete an SCV1 declaration form and then the appointed surveyor will complete and file an in-depth SCV2 form for checking before a license is issued. It is the responsibility of the vessel owner to contract and pay your chosen surveyor directly.

How far can my vessel operate?

The distance that you are allowed to operate depends on the boats’ stability. You should complete an Application for Examination and an Application for Stability Category Allocation. These are then analysed and a stability category will be allocated as follows:

  • Area Category 6 – To sea, within 3 miles from a nominated departure point(s) named in the certificate and never more than 3 miles from land, in favourable weather and daylight
  • Area Category 5 –To sea, within 20 miles from a nominated departure point named in the certificate in favourable weather and daylight
  • Area Category 4 – Up to 20 miles from a safe haven, in favourable weather and in daylight
  • Area Category 3 – Up to 20 miles from a safe haven
  • Area Category 2 – Up to 60 miles from a safe haven
  • Area Category 1 – Up to 150 miles from a safe haven
  • Area Category 0 – Unrestricted service

For those that are operating commercially in inland waters/rivers in the UK and carry less than 12 passengers then any requirements are determined by the authority regulating that area. For example if you were in the River Dart and do not cruise beyond harbour limits, then the safety & licensing will be determined by Dart Harbour Authority or by following the ‘Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code’. You can find more information on this here.

About the author

If you would like to find out more about coding your commercial vessel, please get in touch with out marine expert, Darren Harris.

Darren Harris Dip CII
Account Executive
[email protected]
0117 930 1687 | 07785 426 360