What boats are expected to get what examination

This is for guidance only, because it is important to understand that navigation authorities and NOT the BSS define what certificate they wish to see supporting a boat's registration, licence application or mooring agreement. Ask the customer to check what BSS certification their navigation authority expects if there is a grey area or difference of opinion.

However these are recommendations for navigation authorities by the BSS.

Private craft have the Private or core ECPs last amended in April 2017

They include:

  • Private leisure and pleasure boats
  • shared-ownership boats managed jointly by the private owners - see below;
  • Owner-occupied residential or domicillary boats (note: GSIUR applies)
  • roving-trader boats (Canal & River Trust) run and crewed only by the owner(s) i.e. without employed staff or volunteers. Also without customers/passengers boarding the vessel.

Hire boats: 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 - see further guidance below).

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.

Non-private boats continue to have the BSS 2002 Standards examination applied

These categories include:

  • boats operating commercially or for reward (including trusts and charities) with a skipper or crew, and which carry passengers;
  • workboats and operational craft;
  • emergency service boats and rescue boats.
  • hotel boats that move including pairs and butties*
  • hotel boats that do not move (such as let through online services)*
  • Offices, cafes and retail - where employees (not self-employed owners), volunteers or customers come aboard
  • boats let as residences, domiciles or longer term accommodation*

*On some navigation authorities different rules may apply, owners must check with the individual navigation authority registering the vessel whether the Non-Private Boat Standards or Hire Boat Requirements apply.

Further notes on shared ownership and timeshare boats and the BSS requirements

You will recall from BSS Examiner News 17-002 that, for third-party managed shared ownership boats, there is a need for Examiners to ask about how the boat is managed to establish whether the owners are in control of the risks to which they may be presented; if they aren’t, then the BSS Hire Boat Requirements should apply.

One of the primary considerations when determining whether the BSS Hire Boat Requirements apply to a boat is ‘who is in control of the risks to those using the boat’.  The recent Hirer Safety Review undertaken by the BSS office it was determined that in cases where the persons using a boat are not in full control of the risks (such as on a standard hire boat) then a wider range of BSS requirements are needed than in cases where the users are in full control (such as on a privately owned and used boat). 

This is a complex subject that continues to be discussed between the industry and the BSS committees, and it is likely that further guidance will be provided to Examiners as thoughts coalesce.  However, in the meantime all Examiners must be aware of, and apply as appropriate, the following when being asked to examine timeshare or shared ownership boats:

Timeshare -

Those persons using timeshare boats are not in full control of the risks to which they may be presented when using a boat because others are responsible for equipping and maintaining it, and as such all timeshare boats must be considered as hire boats for the purpose of BSS examination.  Therefore the BSS Hire Boat Requirements apply to all timeshare boats, which can only be examined by Examiners authorised to examine hire boats.

Shared ownership boats (exclusively managed by the boat’s owners) -

Shared-ownership boats exclusively managed by the owners, where the owners equip the boat and arrange all the maintenance and other safety-related works, and as such are responsible for managing all the risks associated with its use, are taken as private boats under the BSS.  Therefore all Examiners may examine shared ownership boats exclusively managed by the owners.

Shared ownership boats (where a management company is involved) -

For shared-ownership boats where a management company is involved, determining whether the BSS private boat, or BSS hire boat, requirements apply is slightly more complex.  If the management company is responsible for managing the risks, and does not engage fully with all the owners in regard to planned maintenance and any other necessary safety-related works, then a shared-ownership boat must be considered as a hire boat in regard to the BSS requirements.  However, if the management company does fully engage with all the boat’s owners in regard to planned maintenance and any other necessary safety-related works, and thereby the owners take a responsibility for managing the risks, then the boat may be examined as a private boat. 

When being asked to examine a time share boat, all Examiners should enquire as to whether the boat is exclusively managed by its owners, or whether it is subject to any form of third-party management agreement.  For boats which are subject to a third-party management agreement, Examiners must then enquire as to whether the management company engages fully with all the owners in regard to planned maintenance and any other necessary safety-related works.  During such conversations Examiners are recommended to make a note in their records of the person they were talking with, the capacity by which that person represented the boat’s owners, and any responses/answers given.  If Examiners are in any doubt as to which BSS requirements apply to a shared ownership boat they should contact the BSS office.