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 as a result, these agreements were updated. The updated agreements became effective on February 18, 2019, and February 22, 2019, 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 goes into effect on January, 1, 2021, the first day that the UK is no longer covered by the US –EU MRA.
The current product scope of the MRAs includes 69 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.
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Product item identification
USCG Approval Category
MED Number and item designation
Primary decks covering
‘A’ & ‘B’ Class divisions fire integrity
(a) ‘A’ class divisions,
164.105 (deck assembly)*
164.107 (structural insulation) *
(b) ‘B’ class divisions.
Note: Restricted ‘B’ Class divisions are not covered by this agreement.
164.108 (bulkhead panels) *
164.110 (structural ceiling) *
Non- combustible materials
Limited to fire doors without windows or with total window area no more than 645 cm2 in each door leaf.
Approval limited to maximum door size tested.
Doors must be used with a fire tested frame design.
Note: Restricted ‘B’ Class doors are not covered by this agreement.
Fire door control systems components.
Note: When the term “system components” is used in column 1 it may be that a single component, a group of components or a whole system needs to be tested to ensure that the international requirements are fulfilled.
Surface materials and floor coverings with low flame- spread characteristics
Draperies, curtains and other suspended textile materials and films
Penetrations through ‘A’ class
Fire restricting materials (except furniture) for high speed craft
Fire restricting materials for furniture for high speed craft
Fire resisting divisions for high speed craft
* Does not include “A” or “B” class windows.
Position- indicating lights for life- saving appliances:
Lifebuoy self- activating smoke signals
Note: Expiration date not to exceed 48 months after month of manufacture.
Rocket parachute flares (pyrotechnics)
Hand flares (pyrotechnics)
Buoyant smoke signals (pyrotechnics)
Line- throwing appliances
Note: The emergency pack is not covered by the Agreement
Automatically self- righting liferafts (rigid liferafts only/inflatable liferafts not covered)
Canopied reversible liferafts (rigid liferafts only/inflatable liferafts not covered)
Float- free arrangements for liferafts (hydrostatic release units)
Release mechanism for:
(a) Lifeboats and rescue boats
(launched by a fall or falls)
Limited to Davit- launched liferaft automatic release hook
Release mechanism for :
Marine evacuation systems
Embarkation Ladders (New Item)
Retro- reflective materials (New Item)
Class A for ships
Transmitting heading device THD (magnetic method)
Note: The use of ISO 11606:2000/Cor 1:2005 is required for Acceptance for USCG Approval under the MRA
Echo - sounding equipment
Speed and distance measuring equipment (SDME)
Rate- of- turn- indicator
Heading control system (HCS)
Rudder Angle Indicator (New item)
Propeller revolution indicator (New item)
Pitch Indicator (New item)
Radar equipment CAT 1
(Radar equipment used with ARPA must have separate EU and USA certifications)
Radar equipment CAT 2
(Radar equipment used with ATA must have separate EU and USA certifications)
Radar equipment CAT 3
(Radar equipment used with EPA must
have separate EU and USA certifications)
Voyage data recorder (VDR)
Electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) with backup, and raster chart display system (RCDS) (New item)
165.124 (ECDIS Back-up Equipment)
Gyro compass for high- speed craft
Universal automatic identification system equipment (AIS)
Track control system
(working at ship’s speed from minimum manoeuvring speed up to 30 knots)
Radar equipment for high speed craft applications (CAT 1H and CAT 2H)
165.216 (CAT 1H)
165.217 (CAT 2H)
Radar reflector passive type
Heading control system for high speed craft (New Item)
Transmitting heading device THD (GNSS method) (New item)
Searchlight for high speed craft (New item)
Night vision equipment for high speed craft
Transmitting heading device THD (Gyroscopic method) (New item)
Simplified voyage data recorder (S- VDR) (New item)
DGPS Equipment (New item)
DGLONASS Equipment (New item)
Daylight signalling lamp (New item)
Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS) (New item)
Sound reception system (New item)
Products Approved by the USCG
The USCG Certificate of Approval (COA) will be endorsed with a statement to indicate that a manufacturer may apply markings required for use on both EC and EFTA member state vessels.
Where MED/#.##(x) is the item number or EC and EEA EFTA approval category equivalent for each product covered by the MRA (See below for list of products covered).
Manufacturers obtaining authorization to apply the mark of conformity to their products from the USCG will need to ensure that the marking is in accordance with the MED. The following are examples of the required mark of conformity:
Products Receiving USCG Approval from the EU/EAA EFTA
EU and EEA EFTA Notified Bodies acting under the authority of the US-EC MRA or the US-EEA EFTA MRA are permitted to issue USCG approval numbers for products covered by the MRAs. The EC Type Examination (Module B) Certificate issued by a Notified Body should include the following paragraph:
“This equipment is covered by the scope of the “Agreement between the European Community and the United States of America on Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Conformity for Marine Equipment” signed February 27th, 2004 and amended by Decision No.1/2018 dated February 18th, 2019 according to U.S. Coast Guard approval category . A U.S. Coast Guard approval number will be assigned to the equipment when the production module has been completed and will appear on the production module certificate (module D, E or F) as allowed by the MED.”
For cases when the same Notified Body issues both certificates, the Notified Body assigns a USCG approval number on the Module D, E & F Certificates and includes the following paragraph:
“The manufacturer is allowed to affix the US Coast Guard approval number as allowed by the “Agreement between the European Community and the United States of America on Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Conformity for Marine Equipment” signed February 27th, 2004 and amended by Decision No.1/2018 dated February 18th, 2019”
For cases when the Notified Body conducting the approval to Module B is different than the Notified Body conducting the quality assurance under Module D, E or F, the Certificate of Conformity (Module D, E or F) should be issued by the Notified Body (NB2) with the EC-US MRA marking required and the following paragraph:
Manufacturers obtaining authorization to apply the USCG Approval Number to their products from a EU or EAA EFTA Notified Body will affix the US Coast Guard approval number.
where “EC0038" indicates approval by the Notified Body number with number 0038 and “zzz” is the Unique Identifier for this product.
An example of an affixed US Coast Guard approval number for cases when the Notified Body conducting the approval to Module B is different than the Notified Body conducting the quality assurance under Module D, E or F, the Certificate of Conformity (Module D, E or F) is as follows:
where “EC0038" is the Notified Body that issued the Module B Certificate and has the notified body number “0038” and EC1121 is the Notified Body that issued Module D Certificate and has the notified body number "1121" and “zzz” is the Unique Identifier for this product.
In December 1998, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) proposed to the European Commission (EC) the negotiation of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on marine equipment under the Transatlantic Economic Partnership. The goal of the MRA is to allow a manufacturer to reach multiple markets on the basis of compliance with one set of regulatory requirements instead of multiple ones, as would be the case without the MRA. This will directly lead to a reduction of costs for manufacturers in terms of testing and certification. Negotiations on an agreement began in late 1999. The Lifesaving & Fire Safety Standards Division (CG-ENG-4) worked in close cooperation with USTR to develop the product scope based on a detailed product-by-product review of the U.S. and EC marine equipment requirements.
Negotiations on this important mutual recognition agreement between the US and the EC were concluded in June 2003. The MRA on marine equipment is a result of a 5-year cooperative effort that recognizes the importance of facilitating US - EC trade in marine equipment and promoting bilateral cooperation on international marine equipment regulations. The final version of the US - EC MRA was signed on February 27, 2004 and it entered into force on July 1, 2004.
Following the implementation of the US – EC MRA the USTR started negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) on a MRA that is parallel to the existing US – EC MRA. This second mutual recognition agreement between the US and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein which represent the EEA EFTA member states continues the goal to increase the manufacturer’s ability to reach multiple markets on the basis of compliance with one set of regulatory requirements. The US – EEA EFTA MRA was signed on October 17, 2005 and became effective on March 1, 2006.
The European regulations governing marine equipment were updated in 2014, and as a result, these agreements were updated. The updated agreements became effective on February 18, 2019, and February 22, 2019, 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.
Many of the US, EC and EEA EFTA marine equipment requirements are based on standards and testing specified by the Safety of Life At Sea Convention (SOLAS). Of all the equipment items that were considered, only products having identical or equivalent requirements in each market were included in the scope of the agreement. The two MRA’s original product scope include the same 43 products in three main categories: life saving equipment (e.g. visual distress signals, marine evacuation systems); fire protection equipment (e.g. fire doors, insulation); and navigational equipment (e.g., compasses, GPS equipment, echo-sounding equipment). The amended agreements expanded the product scope to 69 items, adding additional navigation equipment, position indicating lights, structural fire protection for high speed craft, and other miscellaneous items.
Additionally, 46 CFR Subchapter Q was updated to codify the procedures for obtaining USCG approval under the MRAs in 46 CFR subpart 159.003. Sections 159.003–3 and 159.003–5 of this subpart specify that the Coast Guard can accept foreign approvals under the MRAs and may issue approvals under the MRAs.