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The new IPV Code – what it means for repair and refit yards

Published on: 23 August 2018

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Over the last few weeks British Marine has been updating its members about the new IPV code which is due to come into effect in January 2019.  The draft Code is currently out for consultation by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) until 26 September and British Marine members are advised to review the draft and engage with the consultation process.

The IPV Code is a code of practice for pleasure vessels that need to be operated under temporary commercial use at sea. To be clear about what a pleasure vessel is, the legal definition of a pleasure vessel is ‘a vessel being used for the sport or leisure of the owner, his immediate family and friends’. Every time a pleasure vessel is used outside of this definition it is being used commercially and under the current legal framework would either need to be commercially coded or gain a load line exemption for the vessel and the journey.

How does this affect engineers, riggers or anyone else that works on this types of vessel in a refit or repair yard?

After carrying out any engineering, repair or refit works on a vessel it is often normal practice to sea trial the vessel. During the sea trial the vessel, because it is not being used by the owner, their immediate family or friends for sport or leisure it is therefore, under the legal definition, operating in commercial use. The same can be said if the vessel is being moved from one yard to another by sea, being delivered after refit work (but still under contract with the yard) or has a surveyor or engineer on board for acceptance/certification trials following the remediation work.

Up to now it has been necessary to have the vessel coded or obtain an exemption from the MCA. However, the regulator has recognised that for a vessel normally intended to be a pleasure vessel, but is temporarily in commercial use for a single journey, the current options are unpractical, costly and will more than likely alter the vessel unnecessarily. But the MCA does need to ensure all commercial activities carried out in UK waters are done safely. To this end they engaged with British Marine, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Yacht Designer and Surveyors Association (YDSA) to develop a new code to allow industry to operate with less burdens, while ensuring that the operations are being carried out safely.

British Marine members need to note that this new IPV Code solely applies to sea going activities and those operations within UK categorised waters have not changed from those covered by the British Marine guidance document highlighted last year and available from the British Marine website.

The full general requirements can be found under Section 5 of the draft IPV Code. Access to the draft code, the associated Marine Guidance Notes and the consultation are available on the GOV.UK website.

Further guidance for members has been created by the British Marine technical team, which can be found on the technical pages of the British Marine website.

The British Marine technical team are also available to provide further guidance and clarifications to British Marine members. The team can be contacted at The technical team, alongside the representatives of the MCA, will also be available at the Southampton Boat Show to answer any questions from the membership. They will be in the Membership & Exhibitors Lounge sponsored by PKF Francis Clark and SMG Group.