null New Water Traffic Act enters into force on 1 June

New Water Traffic Act enters into force on 1 June

Tiedote 29.05.2020 12.55 fi sv en

A motorboat. Picture: Shutterstock.

The new Water Traffic Act entered into force on Monday, 1 June 2020. It updates and brings together the traffic rules and signs used in water transport. The aim of the Act is to improve maritime safety, increase responsibility in boating and provide a favourable environment for water transport automation.

The reform clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the authorities in water transport and the relation between the Water Traffic Act and the Maritime Act. Primarily, the water traffic rules apply to both merchant shipping and pleasure boating, while the Maritime Act mainly lays down provisions on merchant shipping.

Changes to boat master’s role, regulation on rental boats and sanctions system

The Act includes a significant reform as it lays down new provisions on boatmasters of recreational craft. In future, recreational watercraft must have a boatmaster who is responsible for the transport of the vessel and the safety of its passengers. The boatmaster of the watercraft is responsible for seeing to it that the passengers are wearing flotation devices whenever conditions, such as the weather or waves, so require.

The Act lightens the regulation on rental boats and updates the sanctions system. The goal of these changes is to facilitate the renting of boats and, at the same time, the sharing economy.

In connection with the reform of the sanctions system, a scheme of traffic violation fees will be introduced along the same lines as in the new Road Traffic Act. The scheme will replace the current fixed fine system for lesser violations, but the level of payments will remain at the present level.

Basis in international regulationSince the international regulations on people engaged in water transport are very detailed, they also form the basis for the new Act. In the reform, special consideration has been paid to the provisions required by canal traffic, including the traffic on the Saimaa Canal. The Act has been prepared in cooperation with the Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, Transport Infrastructure Agency and stakeholders in the sector.

The new Act also includes provisions on the use of watercraft equipment, registration of watercraft, and qualification requirements for the boat master of a recreational vessel bigger than a recreational craft.

What are the next steps?

The Water Traffic Act entered into force on 1 June 2020.

Information on the reform of the Act is available on the website of the Transport and Communications Agency Traficom at:

In social media, the hashtag for communications on the Water Traffic Act is #vesiliikennelaki2020.


Irja Vesanen-Nikitin, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 40 544 9673

Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 507 0916, Twitter: @WirenSini