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The new IPV Code - what it means for delivery trips by sea and delivery companies

Published on: 06 September 2018

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British Marine has been updating its members over the past few weeks on a new draft IPV (intended pleasure vessels) code that the MCA has written in conjunction with British Marine, the RYA and the YDSA. The new IPV code is important because it reduces regulatory and economic burdens on marine businesses and helps ensure that operators of pleasure vessels in temporary commercial use are operating on the correct side of the law.

There are a number of occasions when a pleasure vessel is used outside of its legal definition:

  • When a vessel is wholly owned by an individual or individuals, and at the time it is in use it is not “used only for the sport or pleasure of the owner or the immediate family or friends of the owner”; or
  • When a vessel is owned by a body corporate and at the time it is in use it is not “used only for sport or pleasure, and on which the persons on board are employees or officers of the body corporate, or their immediate family or friends”; or
  • When a vessel is not “on a voyage or excursion which is one for which the owner does not receive money for or in connection with operating the vessel or carrying any person, other than as a contribution to the direct expenses of the operation of the vessel incurred during the voyage or excursion”.

All of these activities mean the vessel is being used outside of the legal definition of a pleasure vessel and is therefore in commercial use.

When the vessel is in commercial use currently there are only two options to enable legal operation:

1. Code the vessel for the relevant commercial use, such as MGN 280 or the workboat code
2. Gain a ‘load line exemption’ from the MCA for the vessel and its journey

These can be costly and often require changes being made to the vessel.

How will this new code affect delivery trips?

Delivery trips can generally be split into three categories:

1. Delivery trip on behalf of the manufacturer/distributor/company (i.e. the vessel is still owned by a company)
2. Delivery trip on behalf of an owner (i.e. the vessel is wholly owned by an individual or individuals)
3. Delivery trip to change location for commercial purposes e.g. a change in charter location

For the first of these examples, due to the fact that the vessel is intended as a pleasure vessel and wouldn’t normally be in commercial operation, but is for a single journey, the new IPV code would be applicable.
For the second example, as the vessel is owned by an individual or individuals and the delivery trip is simply to move the vessel’s location for the owner, it is seen that this is still for the sport or leisure of the owner, his immediate family or friends, and therefore the vessel is still under the definition of pleasure vessel and not a commercial operation.

For the third example, the vessel is under normal operation and therefore in commercial use, so the it should be fully commercially coded for the journey or have a load line exemption for the specific journey/vessel. The vessel cannot be taken out of ‘commercial use’ and the new IPV code applied for the single journey, enabling the vessel to be relocated for its next commercial activity.

Full details on the draft IPV Code, along with the consultation documents can be found on the MCA’s website at

British Marine has created further guidance for its members which can be found on the technical section of its website -

British Marine’s technical team, along with staff from the MCA, will be holding a workshop and Q&A session at the Southampton Boat show on Friday 14 September, in the Members and Exhibitors Lounge, sponsored by PKF Francis Clark and the SMG Group, between 17.30 and 19.00.