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Published on 16/04/2024

MED and MER Approvals Explained 

What does MED stand for and what does it mean? 

Marine Equipment Directive (MED) is a regulation mandated by the European Union to enforce and support the international regulatory framework for maritime safety. It aims to standardise safety practices and equipment quality across EU member states, plus other flagged vessels from Europe who conform to these regulations. 

To comply with MED regulations, manufacturers must pass a rigorous approval procedure that demonstrates their manufacturing process and resulting equipment meets specific safety standards. Once approved, the equipment will be affixed with the MED ‘wheelmark’ and a unique ID number that represents the governing body and the year in which the certificate was issued. All MED approved products will also come with an EC Declaration of Conformity, which is issued by the equipment manufacturer.  

What does MER stand for and what does it mean? 

As a result of the UK leaving the European Union (EU), the implementation of the Marine Equipment Directive (MED) is no longer applicable to UK flagged vessels. Consequently, the United Kingdom Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has implemented the UK Conformity Assessment Scheme for certification of marine equipment. This has resulted in a new regulation for all UK flagged vessels, called the Marine Equipment Regulation (MER).  

When did MER come into effect? 

MER Approval replaced MED Approval on UK-flagged vessels as of 1st January 2023. It is now applicable to all equipment manufactured after 31st December 2022 being placed on UK flagged vessels. For any equipment manufactured prior to 1st January 2023, MED approval will still be in place.

I have a UK flagged vessel with MED approved equipment on board, do I need to replace it with MER approved equipment? 

If your MED approved equipment was manufactured on or before the 31st December 2022 and is still in workable condition, you can continue to use your MED approval. If you wish to purchase anything that has a manufacture date on or after 1st January 2023, then you will need to ensure that it has MER certification. 

What equipment does the MED and MER Approval cover? 

Both MED and MER Approvals cover the below equipment categories:  

For up-to-date information on MED approved equipment, you can create a free account on the MED Portal and search their database here.

How do I know if my equipment is MED or MER Approved? 

MED Approved equipment will be marked with the ‘Wheelmark’ and MER Approved equipment will be marked with the ‘Red Ensign’ flag symbol, both of which are shown below. The numbers and letters that accompany these symbols represent the unique identifier of the certifying organisation followed by the year the item was manufactured. All approved equipment will also be accompanied by an EC Declaration of Conformity to the relevant certification; this is issued by the equipment manufacturer. 

What is the difference between MED and MER Approvals? 

MED Approval is a mandated requirement for certain equipment on EU member state flagged vessels, plus a few other European countries. For full information on regulations applicable to your country please check the relevant governing body website.   

MER Approval is a mandated requirement for certain equipment on UK flagged vessels only.  

Do I need both MED and MER Approvals on the relevant equipment? 

MED and MER are not interchangeable, you either require one or the other depending on the flag of your vessel on board which it is being used. It does not matter if the equipment has both.

Can I use the MER or MED certificate on other equipment? 

Both MED and MER certification are only applicable to the specific product that they reference.  

Why is the manufacture date of the product important when considering MED and MER Approvals? 

MED and MER regulate and certify the procurement and manufacturing process involved in the creation of a product to ensure that it meets quality and safety standards. Therefore, the certification is physical confirmation that these processes during a certain timeframe will produce a fit-for-purpose product.  
As a result, the certification is only valid on products manufactured after the approval has been provided by the certification authority and before it’s expiry. Any equipment manufactured prior to the date that the certificate has been issued or after it’s expiry will not be covered by the approval and therefore cannot bear the approval logo.

My certificate has expired, what should I do?

Certifications for both MED and MER have expiry dates on them, which usually state something along the lines of ‘This Certificate is valid until YYYY-MM-DD’. This expiry date refers to the date when the manufacturing process must be reviewed by the certifying body for the manufacturer to continue to produce MER or MED approved products.    
Therefore, as long as you have a valid MED or MER certificate for when the equipment was manufactured (even if that certificate has now expired) the equipment will still be covered by the approval.  

My MER Approved equipment has arrived, but it does not have the Red Ensign on it. Why would this be?

As per the requirements for the UK Conformity Mark outlined in MSN 1874 Amendment 7 Annex 5:

“[The Red Ensign should have] vertical dimensions of at least 5mm with the ability to waive this for smaller products and/ or where the size of the conformity mark would not provide for legibility due to the size or nature of the product or it is not otherwise practicable to place the mark on the product in which case the mark should be placed on the accompanying paperwork or packaging.

Therefore, smaller sized equipment may not bear the Red Ensign mark, but the packaging should. It should also come with a certificate of conformity, which should be kept in your records and be readily available if requested by a surveyor.