Maritime and Coastguard Agency ‘Workboat Code Edition 3’ comes into force

Published on: 20 December 2023

workboat code edition 3

The MCA’s Workboat Code 3 has now been published and comes into force.

Publication of the final version was on 22 November 2023 ahead of it formally coming into force on 13 December 2023. 

The updated collection of technical requirements applies to vessels of up to 24 metres in commercial use, including pilot boats. It’s based on a new revision of the Merchant Shipping (Small Workboats and Pilot Boats) Regulations 2023. 

For the first time, the code also brings in remotely operated unmanned vessels (ROUVs) as well as craft using alternative fuels and propulsion.

It will be introduced in a phased approach as vessels undergo their regular certification process through Certifying Authorities authorised by the MCA to examine and certify small commercial vessels.

This Code must, from the date of entry into force (13 December 2023), be used for new workboats and pilot boats.

Existing vessels that are certificated under the Brown Code, its equivalent standard published in the technical Annex to MGN 280(M), or Workboat Code Edition 2, Amendment 1 shall meet the requirements of Workboat Code Edition 3 by the vessel’s next renewal examination or three years after the date of entry into force of the Code, whichever is later, except, where references to previous requirements are explicitly specified within individual sections of the Code they may comply with such requirements.

New vessels which have their keels laid, or are at a similar stage of construction, between the entry into force of Workboat Code Edition 2 and the date of entry into force of the Code, may be considered as existing vessels that are certificated under Workboat Code Edition 2; or shall meet the requirements of Workboat Code Edition 3 in full.

It should also be noted that, where any existing vessel upgrades, and phases-in, to the Workboat Code Edition 3 regime, it must do so fully. A vessel cannot meet a combination of the Workboat Code Edition 3 standards and those of earlier codes or standards.

The new workboat code can be downloaded from the website here – The Workboat Code Edition 3 – GOV.UK (


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