The Mutual Recognition Agreements

The Mutual Recognition Agreements are parallel agreements the United States of America (US) has with the European Union (formerly the European Community (EC)) and with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are part of the European Economic Area (EEA), and the United Kingdom (UK), on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Conformity for Marine Equipment as allowed by Title 46 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) subpart 159.003.

The objectives of the mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) are to facilitate trade in marine equipment and to promote cooperation on international marine equipment regulations.  The agreements allow a manufacturer to reach multiple markets on the basis of demonstrating compliance with one set of regulatory requirements.

The mutual recognition agreement between the US and the EC was signed on February 27, 2004 and became effective on July 1, 2004.  The mutual recognition agreement between the US and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which represent the EEA EFTA member states was signed on October 17, 2005, and became effective on March 1, 2006.  The European regulations governing marine equipment were updated in 2014 and again in 2023, and as a result, these agreements were updated.  The most recent updated agreements became effective on May 26, 2023, and August 24, 2023, respectively.  The updated agreements with the EC, signed by the European Union (EU), and EFTA also expanded the types of equipment covered under the MRA. The mutual recognition agreement between the US and the UK was signed on February 14, 2019, covers the same scope as the updated agreements with the EC. It became effective on January, 1, 2021, the first day that the UK is no longer covered by the US –EU MRA and was amended on December 8, 2023.

The current product scope of the MRAs includes 73 products in three main categories: lifesaving equipment; fire protection equipment and navigational equipment.  The MRAs allow a manufacturer to reach multiple markets on the basis of compliance with one set of regulatory requirements.  This can directly lead to a reduction of costs for manufacturers for testing and certification, and provide ship owners, builders, and operators with a wider selection of equipment providing more flexibility when designing, building, and operating their vessels.

The MRAs do not change the requirements of vessel owners and operators to use USCG approved equipment where required on US flag vessels.  However, they do allow vessel owners and operators to purchase and install equipment that has been approved (issued a wheelmark or red ensign, and a USCG Approval number) under the requirements of the MRAs by an EU or EEA EFTA Notified Body or a UK Approved Body.  OCMIs and ROs acting on behalf of the Coast Guard will continue to require USCG approval where required by the applicable regulations.


  • The MRAs (Annex II) specifically identifies which items are covered.
  • The US – EC MRA went into effective July 1st, 2004 and was amended February 18th, 2019 and May 26th, 2023.
  • The US – EEA EFTA MRA is effective March 1st, 2006  and was amended February 22nd, 2019 and August 24th, 2023.
  • The US - UK MRA went into effect January 1st, 2021 and was amended December 8th, 2023
  • The USCG will not accept the MED mark of conformity in lieu of USCG approval numbers on U.S. flag ships.  Instead, the MRA provides a means to obtain USCG approval for eligible products from EC or EEA EFTA Notified Bodies or UK Approved Bodies.
  • Equipment that receives a USCG approval number from a European Notified Body or UK Approved Body under the MRA can be installed onboard a US flag vessel where applicable.
  • Equipment that receives the mark of conformity from the USCG under the MRA can be installed where applicable onboard a UK or European flag vessel of a country that is a member of the EC or the EEA EFTA.
  • A manufacturer having the UK or MED mark of conformity will make application for USCG approval to the Notified Body or Approved Body that issued the MED certificates authorizing the mark of conformity or they can apply to the USCG and receive a certificate under the MRA.

NVIC 02-19

Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) N. 02-19 change 2 provides guidance to inspectors, US shipowners, operators and builders, and manufacturers on the approval of marine equipment under the US/EU, US/EEA EFTA, and US/UK MRAs. The NVIC details what the MRAs are, how they work, the processes to follow to get MRA approval, how to find what products are approved, and provides a list of all products categories currently eligible under the MRAs. All are encouraged to review the NVIC linked above and contact ENG-4 staff if there are any questions.

 For further questions click here to contact the CG-ENG-4 Staff.