The text of the new Recreational Craft Code has been definitively approved. Great credit to the President of Ucina Carla Demaria and her team. Here is what will change in the life of boaters
by Vincenzo Cristiano*
This is a great achievement in the interest of boats and of the entire production chain of the Italian nautical industry. In particular, the new Recreational Craft Code gives equal dignity to recreational commercial navigation with respect to non-profit navigation, the term commercial yacht is introduced and it is established that, for recreational ships registered with the International Register (Superyacht) the general discipline is that of the new Code. This allows overcoming the original sin of a normative text created for private craft and that had marginally introduced their use for “commercial purposes”.
Reference regulatory context
On 27 October, the Council of Ministers approved, in the second preliminary examination, on the proposal by President Paolo Gentiloni and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Graziano Delrio, an important legislative decree which, in implementation of article 1 of the Law 7 October 2015, no. 167, revises and especially integrates the Recreational Craft Code (Legislative Decree 18 July 2005, no. 171) and in fact, fully implements European Directive 2003/44/EC on the approximation of legislative, regulatory and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding recreational craft.
Below, we will try to break down the provisions that have greater impact on boaters with respect to the “generic“ ones that will concern industry professional operators.
(i) PART I
The new rules of greatest interest for “Boaters”
The new classification of recreational craft
Article 3 of the decree modifies the corresponding article 3 of the recreational craft code (code).
The new classification of recreational craft is as follows:
- a) recreational craft: refers to any construction of any type and with any means of propulsion intended for recreational navigation;
- b) commercial yachts: refers to any recreational craft referred to in article 2 of the Code and that does not transport goods, including the ships referred to in article 3 of Law 8 July 2003, no. 172;
The latter are ships intended solely for chartering for tourist purposes, which, according to the aforementioned article 3 have a length of more than 24 meters and gross tonnage of less than 1000 tons and that can be registered in the International Register and subject to the relevant regulations: they are ships used for international navigation only for tourist charter and are authorized for the transport of up to 12 passengers, excluding the crew and shall not be subject to the cabotage prohibition laid down for ships registered in the International Register;
- c) large recreational craft: refers to any hull craft of more than twenty-four meters in length, measured according to UNI/EN/ISO/8666 harmonized standard for the measurement of boats and recreational craft and of a tonnage greater than 500 GT or 600 TSL of the Italian National Unification Authority, the European Standardization Organization and the International Standardization Organization (UNI/EN/ISO/8666), and a tonnage of over 500 gross tonnage, hereinafter GT, or 600 tons of gross tonnage, hereinafter TSL;
- d) small recreational craft: refers to any hull craft of more than twenty-four meters in length measured in accordance with UNI/EN/ISO/8666 harmonized standard and up to 500 GT or 600 TSL;
- e) recreational boat: refers to any hull craft of more than ten meters and up to twenty-four meters, measured in accordance with UNI/EN/ISO/8666 harmonized standard;
- f) recreational craft: refers to any rowing or hull unit with a length of 10 meters or less, measured in accordance with the harmonized standard referred to in c), with the exclusion of personal watercraft;
- g) personal watercraft: refers to any recreational craft with a hull length less than four meters, using a propulsion engine with a water jet pump as the primary propulsion source and intended to be operated by one or more people sitting, standing or kneeling on the hull instead of inside.
The new classification therefore introduces commercial yachts and the application of the code to ships registered with the special regulation of the international register pursuant to article 3 of Law 172/2003. It also distinguishes between large and small recreational ships depending on the tonnage and expressly introduces personal watercraft among recreational craft.
The registration of recreational ships and recreational boats
Article 15 of the Code currently requires recreational ships to be recorded in the the registers held by the Port Captaincies.
Article 5 introduces the possibility of provisional registration for recreational ships, which is currently foreseen only for boats.
The new paragraph establishes that the owner or user of the recreational craft in financial lease may request via the Online Access Point for Boaters (STED) a record of the loss of ownership of the craft as a result of an offence against assets, presenting the original or the certified copy of the report or complaint and returning the boating license, if held. The same request may be made in the case of measures by the judicial authority or public administration that result in the unavailability of the recreational craft, of sentence of judicial bodies that ascertain the loss of ownership for the owner of the recreational craft, requisition or termination of the effects of the financial lease contract. If the owner or user of the recreational craft in financial lease falls into the ownership of the craft, he/she may request the record via the Online Access Point for Boaters (STED), also for the purposes of issuing a new boating license. Article 6 includes in the Code the new article 15-bis, which specifically regulates the registration of recreational craft.
Registration in the register of recreational ships, even temporary, may be requested by the owner with the ownership title and tonnage certificate, while in the case of foreign ships, the extract of the registration register of origin or the certificate of cancellation is also required; this latter document can be replaced by a certificate attesting the procedures of cancellation from the foreign register.
If the aforementioned certificates indicate the owner’s details, it is foreseen that the ownership title is not required.
For the record of commercial use in the register of recreational ships, the owner must also present the certificate of registration at the company register or substitute declaration with the details of the individual business or of the company.
Similarly to the foregoing, article 10 introduces a specific discipline for the registration of recreational boats.
The new regulation scheme provides superseding the old system for keeping registration registers for recreational craft, which are now managed in paper format and in decentralized terms at each maritime district, through their complete computerization and referral of relevant skills to single central authority competent throughout the country. This objective is also accompanied by the simplification and rationalization of the procedures for the registration and cancellation of recreational craft in the relevant registers and the procedures for issuing navigation documents through the establishment of Online Access Points for Boaters (STED) linked to a central database. The Central Online System for Recreational Craft (SISTE) is established at the Department of Transport of the MIT and is structured as follows: Central online archive of recreational craft (ATCN, containing the technical and legal information of recreational craft); Central Conservation Office of recreational craft; Online Access Point of Boaters.
Other provisions relating to the registration of recreational craft
Article 16 of the Code requires recreational craft used by way of leasing with purchasing right to be registered under the name of the lessor, with a specific record on the registration register and on the boating license of the name of the user and the expiry date of the relevant contract. This rule is applied article 7 of the scheme, which establishes that in case of termination of the financial lease contract, the owner shall request cancellation of the record. In the event of loss of ownership, the cancellation of the record shall be requested by the owner or the user. Article 8 of the scheme provides for the elimination of the obligation of publication of the declaration and revocation of the shipowner.
Article 9, referring to the registration of recreational craft by foreigners or resident abroad, lastly specifies, recalling article 18, paragraph 4 of the Code, that the representative, if a foreigner, must be regularly resident in Italy.
Streamlining security controls on recreational craft
Article 19 introduces a new article 26-bis in the Code. In this sense, it is foreseen that the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, with specific annual directives, shall determine the procedures to carry out security controls for recreational and commercial navigation, in order to avoid duplication of investigations of recreational craft, with particular regard to the seaside season. The subsequent verification of the implementation of these directives is also foreseen.
Recreational craft brokers
Article 31 introduces a new Chapter II-bis in the Code relating to professional figures for recreational craft, composed of the new articles 49-ter, 49-quater and 49-quinquies and 49-sexies. In particular, article 49-ter establishes the professional figure of recreational craft broker, defined as the person who, also by means of consultancy activities, liaises two or more parties for the conclusion of contracts for the purchase and sale, construction, lease, charter, loan for use, mooring of boats and financial lease of recreational craft.
(ii) PART II
The new rules of greatest interest for commercial operators
National register of boating licenses and license categories
Articles 28 and 29 introduce a number of amendments regarding boating licenses.
Article 29 establishes the National Register of boating licenses at the Department of Transport of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. To this end, the new article 39-bis is introduced in the Code. The new Register will in fact include
also maritime claims, extraordinary events and breaches.
The data will be collected by the Department of Transport, Navigation, General Affairs and the Ministry of Transport staff, and will be provided by the Port Captaincies, the Maritime Offices and Motor Vehicle Offices, the investigation bodies (judicial police officers of the Police Forces and the Unit of Port Captaincies), as well as by insurance companies, which are all required to send the data to the Data Processing Center of the Directorate-General for Motor Vehicles of the Department of Transport.
Article 28, on the other hand, provides for the updating and simplification of the requisites necessary for obtaining a boating license.
The new decree introduces the professional figure of sailing instructor, defined as the one who teaches professionally, even non-continuously, sailing techniques in all the specializations, exercised with any type of craft, at sea, lakes and internal waters.
The professional exercise of sailing instructor is reserved for persons registered in a specific national list held by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
Article 49-sexies provides for the national list of sailing instructors to be able to pursue the profession throughout the country, and the requisites required to request registration:
- a) citizenship of the European Union;
- b) minimum age of 23 (following 18);
- c) have fulfilled the obligation of education referred to in article 1, paragraph 622, of Law 27 December 2006, no. 296;
- d) have not been declared normal, professional or usual offenders, have not been subjected to personal security measures or preventive measures, have not been sentenced to imprisonment of not less than three years, unless there have rehabilitation measures;
- e) have residency or domicile or permanent address in a municipality of the Republic;
- f) possess at least a certificate for teaching basic sailing techniques, issued by the Navy, the Italian Sailing Federation, or by the Italian Naval League, while respecting the national system of qualifications of sports technicians of the Italian National Olympic Committee and the European Qualification Framework of the European Union;
- g) possess the certificate of psycho-physical fitness, on the basis of the requirements laid down in the implementing provisions of article 5 of Decree-Law 30 December 1979, no. 663;
- h) have entered into a civil liability insurance policy for damages caused in the exercise of activities deriving from own conduct or of third parties, the conduct of which they shall be liable in compliance with the law.
Boating schools and Boating training centers
Article 32 introduces two new articles in the Code: article 49-septies, which regulates Boating schools, and article 49-octies, which regulates Boating training centers.
The new article 49-septies defines as “boating schools“ schools for maritime education, the education and training of candidates for the examinations for obtaining boating licenses.
These schools are subject to administrative and technical supervision by the provinces or metropolitan cities or the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano of the place where they are headquartered.
For the management of a boating school, it is required that natural or legal persons, companies and entities have the appropriate Start-up Certificate (SCIA). The owner of the school must have the direct, personal, exclusive and permanent ownership and management of the exercise, as well as the direct management of the assets of the boating school and shall be responsible for its regular operation with respect to the competent authority. It is foreseen that the following may teach at boating schools:
– persons in possession of qualification not less than that of deck officer or professional title of recreational craft captain;
– teachers of the aforementioned technical institutes (referred to in paragraph 5);
– commanding officers of the Army staff unit and port captaincies that have ceased active service for at least five years;
– those who have obtained the boating license for navigation for at least ten years without any limit. The basic sailing technique is taught by the sailing instructor.
Teachers and persons that run boating schools should also not have been declared normal, professional or usual offenders and not have been subjected to personal security administrative measures or preventive measures and not have been sentenced to imprisonment of not less than three years, unless there have rehabilitation measures.
The new article 49-octies provides that boating associations and national bodies for the management of schools for the achievement of boating licenses recognized in accordance with the decree of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport shall be referred to as “Boating training centers“. These bodies do not require Start-up Certificate.
These bodies are supervised by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and must undertake the training of candidates for boating license examinations of any category, have adequate technical and didactic equipment, have teachers qualified for boating schools, as well as adequate recreational craft, as set out in the Code Implementing Regulation.
Berth reserved for craft in transit and for the disabled
Article 33, paragraph 1, introduces in the Code the new Chapter II-quater of Title III of the Code, consisting, inter alia, of articles 49-novies, 49-decies, 49-undecies and 49-duodecies, which regulate the facilities dedicated to recreational craft.
The new article 49-novies regulates the transit of recreational craft, establishing that there be a sufficient number of moorings reserved for craft in transit and for the disabled. With regard to the transit of recreational craft by persons with disabilities or with people with disabilities on board, the number of berth reserved shall be equal to one per cent of the seats available in the summer, and one to eight seats depending on the capacity of the port in other periods of the year. However, it is established that a convenient access area be chosen for the disabled, with access platform with maximum height of 50 cm above the water level and as close as possible to water and electricity supply points, and that the mooring be recognizable by delimiting it with painted yellow strips and with a special symbol. Alternatively, it is possible to use a suitable system of floating piers, connected to land that allow easy access and use.
Administrative offences – (articles 35-43)
Articles 35 to 43 of the Legislative Decree scheme amend Title V of the Recreational Craft Code relating to administrative offences, implementing the delegation for revision of the penal sanction discipline (paragraph 1, letter c) of the law).
With regard to the reduced payment of administrative sanctions provided by the Recreational Craft Code, the reform allows:
- within 60 days of the dispute of the violation, the payment of a sum equal to the third part of the maximum penalty established or, if more favourable, equal to twice the minimum, plus the costs of the proceedings. Only by way of example, if the speed limit fine is disputed, for which the Code provides for the payment of a sum from Euro 207 to 1,033, the offender may pay Euro 344 within 60 days of the dispute;
- the further reduction of the above amount by 30% if the payment is made within 5 days of the dispute. This facilitation shall not apply to violations involving the ancillary sanction for the suspension or revocation of the boating license, the seizure of the recreational craft or to those who have refused to provide on-board documents.