Boat examination and certification

The purpose of the BSS is to help minimise the risks to all visitors to the waterways and the waterways' workforce, and to help protect adjacent property,

The remit of the BSS is only related to the condition, equipment and use of boats.

Navigation Authorities use to the BSS to help develop a set of national minimum legal safety requirements and to run an examination service to verify that each boat registered with the navigation authority meets the requirements.

This is the Boat Safety Scheme Examination and if the boat meets the requirements, it is a given a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, which is valid for four years. Owners will recieve a full BSS Certification report from the examiner either on a paper print out, or as a electronic file, or both if the owner wishes.

This like car MOTs, is in effect a receipt-style certificate. There is more detail about what it looks like and the various features on BSS Certificates from April '13.

Note: As an addition to the advice on the page called Preparing for examination, we now include some important recomendations arising from the changes* introduced 1 January 2013 concerning the checking of gas lockers and a.c. electrical shore-supply leads

*Changes to the examination checks apply to privately-owned, privately-managed boats only.

Whether a boat moves from the Broads to the Bridgewater Canal, or the Tees to the Thames, a certificate whilst it is still valid can be used to support a boat registration with over a dozen of navigation authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

The links in the section will help you find an examiner (they are independent practionioners authorised by the BSS to carry out the BSS examination and issue BSS Certiciates), arrange an examination, and prepare the boat for the day (on some boats examinations could take 2-4 hours, on others it may take as little as 15 minutes)

We answer answer some frequent questions on this Q&A page  - Common Q&A

What does a boat need to comply with?

All the expectations are set out in publications called the BSS Examination Checking Procedures.

There are two versions and two sets of checking procedures.

One is for privately-owned, privately-managed craft, this class of boat is expected to meet the Boat Safety Scheme General Requirements. The Requirements and supporting checks can be read on the links on the Private Boat examination page.

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 since 1 April 2017 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;
  • workboats;
  • emergency service boats and rescue boats.
  • hotel boats,
  • boats let as residences or longer term accommodation

These would fall into the group such as those with either a commercial, industrial or public use, that must comply with the 2002 BSS Standards. These can be read out on this link to the BSS Guide 2002 first edition, the button is called 'Non-private Boats'.

If you use gas aboard your boat, please take a moment to read this brief overview with some helpful tips concerning the examination process. You can see it on the Boats With Gas link.

And whilst we much prefer it if all boats pass first time, some don't. The details of a our re-examintion policy, including time limits are here - If your boat does not pass  Please note some examiners build the cost of re-examination into their quotes - please ask your examiner about his charging policy in advance.

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