MCA Coding Guidance

Please CLICK HERE to fill in your details to register for a coding list/ quote for your coded vessel. 

This coding list will provide you with the information you will need regarding safety equipment for a vessel coding. The list is tailored by vessel type and coding category to make it specific to your requirements. 

The list also allows you to indicate the equipment you do or do not need to purchase. For more information call us on 01473833010.


Your boat must be coded if:

  • You operate a boat for skippered or bareboat use, usually for commercial gain.
  • You take people afloat who pay more than a reasonable contribution towards the trip.
  • You operate a workboat.

If this applies to you, you must contact an MCA certifying authority such as the RYA and they will send you the relevant information. The distance you’re allowed to operate depends on the boat’s stability. The first stage of coding is to fill out an application examination and an application for stability category allocation to be sent to the RYA. Your category will then be allocated.

The Categories:

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

Once you know your category you can then decipher what equipment you will need to meet MCA standards. The equipment necessary is stated in MGN 280.

Once you believe you meet the rules and regulations, a certifying authority surveyor will arrange to inspect the boat. If the inspection is a success a certificate will be issued to the owner. Copies of this should be kept on-board. The certificates are valid for five years, with annual, intermediate and renewal surveys being required to keep the vessels compliant.

You will need operating procedures to ensure the vessel operates within your guidelines, and that safety and maintenance checks are carried out frequently. Commercial vessels also have a manning requirement, and certain certificates of competence are required to operate the boat. Certificates require to be commercially endorsed which entails a sea survival certificate, medical and completion of the RYA PPR course.

(Source: Rya.org.uk)

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