Boat examination & certification

COVID-19 & the effect on BSS Examinations - We have new advice!
Good preparation well in advance is the key to success

We have new advice for anyone having their boat examined in the time of COVID-19. Please read these hints and tips before you book and have your boat's BSS Examination [LINK]

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 and harbour 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, the BSS Examiner will create a Boat Safety Scheme Certification in our database.

It will be valid for four years.  

The examiner will send their customer a full BSS Certification report either on a paper print out, or as a electronic file, or both if the owner wishes there is more information on the following webpage BSS Certification Reports.

If you want to know more about the standards, or BSS Requirements as they are known?

Which Examination checking procedures apply to your boat? (the BSS cannot answer this question)

Please ask which Certification i.e. which set of BSS Requirements, the navigation authority is asking for your boat to comply with; Private Boat, Hire Boat Requirements (2017) or Non-Private Boat Requirements (2002)?

Neither Examiners nor the BSS Office can stipulate which boat has what Examination, only the navigation authority can state what set of requirement it wish to support that boats registration/licence/mooring permission application.

Private Boat Requirements  Boat182x182

Hire Boat Requirements  Boat182x182

Other Non-private Boat Requirements  Boat182x182

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 practitioners authorised by the BSS to carry out the BSS examination and issue BSS Certifications), arrange an examination, and prepare the boat for the day (on some boats, BSS Examinations could take 2-4 hours, on others it may take as little as 1 hour).

We 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 three 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 specific set of BSS Requirements and Examination Checking Procedures are applied to hire craft. Hire craft in this case azre 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.

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'.

Owners/operators of the boats in the following categories should check with their navigation authority to find out what the navigation authority requires:

  • hotel boats,
  • boats let as residences or longer-term accommodation

Limitations: Please note that these requirements only relate to the Boat Safety Scheme requirements at the time of BSS Examination. As such it is a snapshot in time, so the owner's on-going responsibility is to maintain the vessel in good condition in accordance with the safety requirements; and, any other licensing, registration or mooring conditions of the relevant navigation or harbour authority.

*The validity of a BSS pass result may be affected and can be cancelled if the vessel is not properly maintained; and/or non-compliant alterations are made.

A BSS Examination is not a full condition survey, nor is it an indication that the vessel is fit for purpose – whatever that purpose may be.

The BSS Requirements also do not supersede or supplant any other additional regulations that boat owners need to comply with, including any further responsibilities or legal duties held by operators or owners of boats made available for use of the public, tenants, employees and volunteers.

There are more details as to the limitations on the following page BSS Certifications


Boats with liquefied petroleum gas - LPG

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-examination 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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