Motorised boats for sports and leisure, just like other motorised vehicles, can produce quite a noise. You can hear this when at sea or on an inland waterway a jet-ski or motor boat for water skiing passes at high speed. And those are not the only noise makers on the water.  This is why at the European level one has established sound standards, which are defined in the recreational craft directive (Directive 94/25/EC, as amended by Directive 2003/44/EC). This Directive lays down essential requirements for sea vehicles: they may be placed on the European market only when they are safe and comply with the exhaust and noise emission standards. Regarding noise emissions, this directive applies to recreational craft with inboard or outboard engines or with stern drive engines and to jet-skis.  A recreational craft is a boat intended for sport or recreation.

Noise limits Standards

The sound made by recreational crafts must be measured according to a harmonised standard (EN ISO 14509), and may not exceed the limits in the table below.

Nominal engine power (one engine vessel) (in kW)Maximum sound pressure level (in dB(A))
PN  1067
PN 40  72




For vessels with two or more engines, the limit may be raised by 3 dBA.

The manufacturer is responsible for placing engines or recreational crafts on the market that comply with these noise standards.


It is the responsibility of the engine manufacturer to verify compliance with noise standards. However, when the engine is an integral part of the boat's hull, it is up to the boat manufacturer to demonstrate compliance with the noise standards, possibly by applying simplified procedures. In these simplified procedures, sound measurements are not required since it can be very expensive to test all the hull/engine combinations separately depending on all the available variations. Simplified procedures apply to crafts which, in all probability, are quiet (slow crafts or crafts with relatively low engine power, such as sailing boats with auxiliary engine) or for crafts corresponding to a certified reference craft, even though they are not supposed to be silent (such as speed boats).

In case of the following crafts, no control is necessary since they do not fall within the scope of the Directive:

  • crafts for own use, therefore not for sale;
  • boats for competition, experimental boats, historical boats, submarines, hovercrafts, hydrofoils and steamboats;
  • this directive obviously does not apply to crafts without engines (canoe, kayak, gondola, pedal boat, surfboard);
  • boats for tourists: in case of these, the local rules apply.


Recreational crafts must have a declaration of conformity with the European standards from the manufacturer. In addition, the manufacturer must affix a CE marking on its products (crafts or engines). You can find more information on the website on Contrôle de la navigation de plaisance (Recreational boating control) of the Mobility and Transport FPS.