Buying a Boat Checklist

When you buy your boat, you will need to make sure you have, or have covered the following:

Recreational Craft Directive

This is documentation that should have been issued with new boats put on the market after June 1998.

The Recreational Craft Directive obligates the producer/builder to keep a file of all relevant data, to officially state the conformity of the product in a Declaration of Conformity, to inform the users about safe use/ maintenance, and to mark the product with a CE Marking.


A professional surveyor with a marine engineering background is required to determine the quality and condition of a proposed purchase. The boat safety scheme survey will not give you a valuation or hull integrity assessment that you may need for insurance and that you will need if you are seeking a mortgage for your boat.

It is recommend that you have the boat surveyed by a qualified marine surveyor for these purposes. The survey fee will depend on its scope: e.g. whether it includes the boat safety certificate and whether it involves taking the boat out of the water. It is therefore impossible to give a precise figure but as a rough guide the average is around £300 plus VAT in many cases.

In addition you will have to pay a fee to have the boat lifted out of the water. Some boatyards have special rates for this if you are buying a boat from them. Prices for this are usually based on the length of the boat. Bear in mind that an astute surveyor working on your behalf may well give you information on a boat that can help you to negotiate a lower purchase price. More importantly, a comprehensive survey may also save you a lot more expense in the future.

You may find too many problems that you no longer wish to purchase. This may mean you have to start again and pay for another survey fee for another boat, but you have saved the potential losses you could have faced. You may have to go through this process a few times if you are unlucky. Don't be put off if your surveyor comes back with a long list of problems. This is normal. They are usually graded from urgent to minor. The seller may be willing to cover some of the costs or re-negotiate the price.

Unless they are specifically asked to do so, a surveyor will not automatically carry out a Boat Safety Scheme examination as part of the survey.