BSS Requirements for hire boats from April 2017

The information on this web-page is for hire boat operators and sets out essential and useful information, to assist operators make any necessary changes to their hire boats before the implementation date of slightly revised BSS Hire Boat Requirements from 1 April 2017.

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Understanding the BSS Examination Process

Changes took place on 1 April 2017 that represent a product of the process of reviewing hirer safety and consulting with the hire trade, BSS examiners, navigation authorities and hirer representatives.

A revised set of requirements and modernised checking procedures are now applied to hire craft. Hire craft in this case are any powered boats such as weekly and day hire vessels:

  • let or hired under an arrangement, whether or not on a pre-contract basis;
  • the subject of a bare boat charter arrangement;
  • the subject of any form of third-party managed shared-use arrangement (including timeshare or shared ownership).

The term ‘hire boat’ does not include:

  • privately owned or managed boats;
  • boats operating commercially with a skipper or crew, and which carry passengers;
  • shared-ownership boats managed jointly by the private owners;
  • workboats;
  • emergency service boats and rescue boats.
  • hotel boats,
  • boats let as residences or longer term accommodation

Please note this important information: - Existing BSS certifications on hire boats will remain valid until they expire. The onus is on hire operators to ensure their boats meet the new and amended BSS Requirements from 1 April 2017.

From 1 April 2017:

A) The BSS Examination Checking Procedures for Privately Owned and Managed Vessels will apply to all hire boats.

All relevant private boat BSS checks are mandatory compliance for hire boats, whereas for privately-owned and managed boats the set of checks is a mix of requirements and advice checks.

For the avoidance of doubt, these are the checks for Hire Boats that are required compliance and that also appear in the private boat examination procedures as advice checks.

Check Item Reference

Check Question


Is the electrical system insulated from the hull?


Are all a.c. shore-power and battery charging lead inlet connections of the correct type in good condition, and suitably protected from the weather?


Are all shore-power, battery charging, and other a.c. power source lead connections of a suitable type?


Are all shore-power, battery charging, and other a.c. power source leads and connectors in good condition?


Is it impossible to connect simultaneously more than one power source to the alternating current distribution system?


Do all a.c. electrical circuits pass through a consumer unit?


Is the vessel provided with adequate means of escape?


Are all appliances requiring a flue, or exhaust fitted with one?


Are all appliances requiring a flue, or exhaust fitted with one?


Are all appliance flues and exhausts complete and in good condition?


Do all appliance flues and exhausts terminate directly to outside air?


Are all open flues to LPG appliances operating effectively?


Are all solid fuel appliances free of unintended gaps?


Is the vessel provided with adequate fixed ventilation?


Are warning notices displayed on sea-going boats with closable ventilators?

To view and download the public edition the BSS Examination Checking Procedures for Privately Owned and Managed Vessels BSS (version 3.0 April 2015) click here.

B) New and revised BSS checks also apply to hire boats in addition to the private boat ones mentioned above. These additional BSS Requirements for hire boats are made up of seven new checks and nine original requirements from Part 10 of the 2002 BSS Standards. 

To view and download the list of additional BSS Requirements for hire boats click here.

Technical support for any hire boat operator seeking information to help move their fleet to full compliance is available by using the ‘contact-us‘ page on this site where questions, photos, diagrams and supporting documents can be uploaded to the BSS website or call 0333 202 1000.


Background information from the hirer safety review and resulting consultation leading to the new BSS Hire Boat Requirements for April 2017

The original September 2015 consultation paper (now closed) and details of the revisions - click here

A short summary of the changes proposed arising out of the consultation (Sept 2015) can be read here. (Feb 2016)

A summary of the impact for hire operators as a result of the adoption of the private boat checks for hire boats, click here as published for the 2015 consultation

A hard copy of the 2015 consultation document is available upon request.

All comments and the BSS responses in detail can be viewed here (Feb 2016).

The news release (Feb 16) announcing decision to implement the revised BSS hire boat requirements from April 2017 can be viewed here  


1 April 2019 - Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm Requirements - section 6.4 of the Examination Checking Procedures

CO Alarms Are Mandatory BW SmallAt least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm is a requirement on nearly all private and non-private boats in scope of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) Requirements. BSS Certifications will not be issued to boats without alarms.

The requirements apply to boats with permanent accommodation, which is defined in this way:

“Space surrounded by permanent boat structure in which there is provision for any of the following activities: sleeping, cooking, eating, washing/toilet, navigation, steering. Spaces intended exclusively for storage, open cockpits with or without canvas enclosures and engine rooms are not included.”

There are four new BSS Check items in the BSS examination:

Check 6.4.1 covers the provision of alarms in suitable numbers – this check ensures everyone on board can hear the alarm if it activates.

Check 6.4.2 is an Advice check for private boats, promoting a CO alarm in the same space as a solid fuel stove – stoves can present a specific risk if flue gases enter the cabin.

Check 6.4.3 requires CO alarms to be placed in open view, be of a certified quality and have a test function button – this check provides an assurance about the quality of alarm manufacture and performance.

Check 6.4.4 requires CO alarms to be in good and working condition, showing no signs of damage, being within any visible expiry dates and passing the function test using the test button – this check ensures the alarm will work effectively if called upon.

There is a handout available as an essential guide to all the new requirements and background information. It covers what is required and how the checks will be carried out by BSS Examiners and how the alarms will help keep crew members safe. Click on this link to download it. Document Black 20X20