Technical requirements for vessels


For the CCNR, the principle of freedom of navigation has always gone hand in hand with the principles of organisation to guarantee safety and proper functioning of navigation.

To this end, the CCNR has produced a number of technical rules in relation to the equipment and safety of vessels. The first Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVIR) dates back to 1905. This regulation has been continually updated to reflect technological progress. The inspection regulations has undergone substantial revisions over the years. The most recent revisions were carried out in 1976, 1995, 2006 and 2020.

The CCNR's regulatory powers are mainly based on Articles 1 and 22 of the Mannheim Convention. This regulation was drawn up already in the 19th century in uniform fashion throughout the full course of the Rhine, with no discrimination between vessels.

Every vessel navigating on the Rhine must have a vessel certificate issued after the boat has been examined by an inspection commission. Any Rhine craft can apply for a vessel certificate from any inspection commission, regardless of the relevant nationality

The inspection regulations defines the basic premises on which the inspection commissions issue vessel certificates. In theory, the regulation is meant for the inspection commissions. In practice, the inspection regulations objectively defines the technical conditions to which vessels on the Rhine are subject.

By virtue of its stringent requirements, factoring in cutting-edge technology, the Rhine inspection regulations, which is only legally applicable on the Rhine itself, has become Europe's technical reference base for the construction of new vessels, irrespective of whether they are intended for use on the Rhine or elsewhere. The regulation has been more or less transposed into other national regulations (Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary), by UN-ECE (for the development of technical requirements for vessels, Resolution 61 revised), and by the European Union (Directive 82/714/EC superseded by Directive 2006/87/EC 62 KB 63 KB 60 KB 58 KB ).

In 2006, an EC Directive laid down the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels (Directive 2006/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December), and this introduced full harmonisation of the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels and Rhine regulatory provisions (with regard to category 3 of major waterways). On the basis of this equivalence, the CCNR has recognised the validity of Community certificates on the Rhine (Protocol 2007-II-21 70 KB 41 KB 70 KB ), while Rhine certificates have also been recognised on all EU waterways. In future, Rhine and EU regulations will evolve in tandem so as to remain identical.

This alignment of CCNR and EU requirements was continued with the European Standard laying down technical requirements for inland navigation vessels (ES-TRIN). The standard is available in four languages (Dutch, English, French and German) and contains the requirements of Directive 2006/87/EC and Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations in harmonised form. It contains provisions on the construction, fitting out and equipment of inland navigation vessels, special provisions for particular types of vessel such as passenger vessels and container ships, provisions on the model inland navigation vessel certificate and instructions on the application of the technical standard.

References to the ES-TRIN have now been incorporated into the EU and CCNR legal frameworks (i.e. into Directive (EU) 2016/1629 replacing Directive 2006/87/EC and the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations). This common standard applies to the Rhine and European Union’s entire inland waterway network.


The various editions of the ES-TRIN are available on the website of the European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (CESNI).

In general, this technical regulation is simultaneously stringent while also containing flexibility. The stringency is demonstrated by the fact that the requirements are the strictest and the most technically advanced. Its flexibility can be seen from the range of implementation options:

  • transitory provisions, so as to take account of the vested rights of older vessels;
  • temporary 3-year provisions: before adopting a new technical rule, the CCNR may test it out for 3 years, following which the provision will be abandoned or definitively adopted;
  • waivers: vessel operators may request the use of technology (so called recommendations) other than that laid down by regulation if it can provide comparable guarantees; the use of alternative technologies as a result of the waivers may thus open the door to regulatory amendments.

The Inspection Regulations Committee

The technical requirements for vessels are drawn up by the Inspection Regulations Committee.

Main areas of responsibility:
Technical safety of vessels, construction and equipping of buildings

Relevant regulations:
Rhine vessel inspection regulations (RVIR), including the inspection commission administrative instructions

  • Amendment of the RVIR to reflect current developments or on the basis of experience;
  • Cooperation with the European Commission in connection with the technical requirements applicable to inland navigation vessels;
  • Observation of the work of the European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (CESNI) in the technical requirements arena.
  • Reduction of polluting and other emissions from the engines of inland navigation vessels;
  • Establishment of recommendations concerning derogations;
  • Establishment of inspection commission administrative instructions;
  • Meetings with the inspection commissions.

Committee Chairman: Mr. Sim TURF, Deputy Commissioner for Belgian
Secretariat: Mr. BOYER

Working group: RV/G

Schedule of meetings

Work programme 115 KB 106 KB 108 KB


The Rhine vessel inspection Regulations (RVIR)

The Rhine vessel inspection regulations (RVIR) define the Inspection body’s vessel certification procedures and refer to the ES-TRIN for the applicable technical requirements

Structure of the Inspection Regulations



A.Application for inspection
O.List of certificates recognized as equivalent according to § 1.04 and modalities for their recognition

Administrative Instructions to the Inspection Bodies and competent authorities according to Article 1.07 of the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVIR)

To ease and harmonize the use of these regulations, the Central Commission can issue administrative instructions for the inspection bodies and for the competent authorities specified by these regulations. These administrative instructions shall be brought to the attention of the inspection bodies and the competent authorities by the delegations. The inspection bodies and competent authorities are obliged to follow these administrative instructions.

The ES-TRIN supersedes all existing administrative instructions. However, instructions post-dating the ES-TRIN apply when using the ES-TRIN as an administrative instruction as construed by the RVIR.

The Central Commission has delegated the authority to decide upon administrative instructions to its Inspection Regulations Committee.


Recommendations to Inspection Bodies pursuant to Article 2.20 of the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVIR)

The inspection body may issue an vessel certificate derogating from the technical requirements of the ES-TRIN, subject to recommendations drawn up by the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine.

Derogations may concern

  • the use, or presence, on board a craft of certain materials, installations or items of equipment, or the adoption of certain design aspects or certain arrangements other than those prescribed by the ES-TRIN;
  • the case in which compliance with certain requirements of the ES-TRIN is difficult to achieve in practical terms or gives rise to unreasonably high costs (“hardship clause”); or
  • the testing of new technical arrangements that derogate from the technical requirements of the ES-TRIN.

This matter is regulated in detail under Article 2.20 RVIR.

The information below is intended solely to explain the procedure and does not prejudge any decisions or additional requests made by the CCNR when examining a request for a recommendation.

Submission of the request and examination by the Inspection regulations Working group

The Central Commission has delegated the authority to decide upon recommendations to its Inspection Regulations Working Group.

The project owner must first contact the Inspection body, which will issue the Rhine Vessel Inspection Certificate.

Requests for recommendations are examined by the Inspection regulations Working group on the proposal of the delegation of the State which will issue the Rhine Vessel Inspection Certificate. This delegation is responsible for checking the completeness and quality of the request for recommendation. It assists the project owners, advises them and supports them in preparing their request for a recommendation. It is the sole point of contact between the Secretariat and the project owner.

Content of the documents for requesting a recommendation

To enable the CCNR to examine the request, the application file shall contain at least:

  • a description of the craft project or the craft, which includes from which articles of ES-TRIN shall be deviated,
  • the proof of an equal safety level.

The rest is to be handed in in function of the recommendation requested. For example, for propulsion systems using new energy sources, this file will also include a risk assessment, a general plan and other plans, the bunkering procedure and training of the crew.

The summary project description shall be around 5-10 pages and contain at least the following information:

  • project owner(s) incl. contact data,
  • supplier(s) of the corresponding parts,
  • owner(s) of the craft,
  • concrete articles from which a deviation is requested,
  • reason, why deviation from ES-TRIN is necessary,
  • if appropriate, description of the operation profile, including foreseen operation area and cargo.

Moreover, documents have to be handed in that proof the equal safety level. It has to be shown with which risk mitigation measure is applied for the concrete articles deviated from. That may vary between an explanation supported by drawings, an expert’s report, a certificate from classification society or a complete risk assessment.

For projects with alternative fuels, if a risk assessment is used to demonstrate the equivalent safety level, it must comply with the requirements of Article 30.04 of the ES-TRIN (especially the type of analysis and the list of risks). The impact of the innovative element on the overall safety of the craft is verified by the risk assessment).

Only the draft recommendation and the summary description of the project (about 5 to 10 pages) are translated into French, German and Dutch. The other elements of the dossier must be provided in English by the delegation submitting the project.

Recommendations for the inspection bodies

Period of validity

In accordance with Article 2.20 of the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVIR), recommendations are issued:

  • For an unlimited period of time if the request for a recommendation concerns the derogations referred to in (1) (“the use, or presence, on board a craft of certain materials, installations or items of equipment, or the adoption of certain design aspects or certain arrangements”) or (2) (“taking into account the specific safety needs of persons with reduced mobility” or “the provisions of Chapter 32 of the ES-TRIN, following the expiry of the transitional provisions”) or (6) (“craft converted to a length of more than 110 m”) of Article 2. 20 of the RVIR.
  • For a limited period of time if the request for a recommendation concerns the derogations referred to in (3) of Article 2.20 of the RVIR (“new technical arrangements that derogate from the technical requirements of the ES-TRIN”).

Joint meetings of the Inspection Bodies

The experts from the Inspection Bodies of the Member States of the CCNR meet every few years 22 KB 20 KB 22 KB 20 KB . Their aim is to harmonize the application of the technical requirements and to answer questions concerning their practical application.

Representatives of the Inspection Bodies and the competent authorities of the Member States of the EU participated for the first time in such a meeting in 2008. In 2012 the meeting was held in Wroclaw (Poland) 92 KB 95 KB 131 KB 56 KB . Under the auspices of the CESNI, the meetings took place in Vienna in 2018 and in Zagreb in 2023.