BSS Certification Reports

Boat Safety Scheme certification reports are now created online by the examiner entering the details of his findings into the BSS database which most navigation authorities have access to. These reports now carry BSSER reference numbers.

Although participating navigation authorities have access to the BSS online database, boat owners, insurance companies, marinas, brokers etc cannot log into the BSS database directly.

This is because we cannot release the data openly and it is because the BSS does not hold any detail about who owns or is the registered keeper of any particular boat

However, some navigation authorities have an online system for anyone registering or licensing a boat for their waterways, where that person can view their own boat details through a secure webpage.

"Boat owners must be given a BSS Certification Report, either an electronic copy, or a paper copy or even both by the examiner..."

Some navigation authorities still wish to ask you to supply a copy, and others may ask for the basic details from the certification report.

They are then able to use the access to the BSS data to double check the validity of the information you have provided.

Existing BSS examination data is already held on a central database and authorised BSS Examiners have been inputting in to this for over two years.  It holds only examination and boat data, no owner or personal information is included.

After a successful boat examination, the owner will get a copy of the receipt-style Certification Report, also called a BSS Examination Report (BSSER), to keep for their own records. The report can be either a print-out, an electronic version or both as the boat owner prefers - this preference should be made clear when arranging the examination.

Where relevant, it may include any non-compliance comments and advisory information, combined in one multi-page document.

Generally existing BSS Certifications will continue to remain valid until reaching the expiry date. However, the validity of a BSS Certification may be effected and can be cancelled if the vessel is not properly maintained; and/or non-compliant alterations are made; or if a hire boat or other type of non-private boat is examined against the 'private boat' category of BSS checks.

Let's take a look at the features of the BSS Certification Report.

The examiner generates the Certification Report directly out of the database and can deliver an electronic file such as a pdf to the owner by email or other messaging system, or the BSS Examiner can print it out for the owner's benefit. In some cases a boat owner may want both electronic and print versions, in which case make this known to the examiner as soon as possible or at least before the examiner leaves the boat.

You can see both versions on these links:

The basic layouts are exactly the same and can be split into four or five distinct sections.

i) At the top, the BSS Examiner's details will be on display. And the space between those details and the logo is left for the examiner to emboss, if and when, he prints out the document.


ii) The next section concerns the basic facts of the examination and the boat. One of the key fields concerns the classification of the checks carried out, being either for privately-owned, privately-managed boats. Or they will be for non-private craft e.g. hire boats; passenger vessels; etc.

The validity of a BSS compliance result may be affected and can be cancelled if a hire boat or other type of non-private boat is examined against the 'private boat' category of BSS checks.

Do not be concerned if the document is not signed. The validty of the Certification is the information in the Boat Safety Scheme database. The name of the examiner at the top left and the PIN are important pieces of information. We can check these against the BSSER number and the boat details and the date.

iii) Underneath the basic facts is a brief log of what the examiner found and examined. This confirms the risk features that formed part of the examination process.

A BSS Examination is a snapshot of the condition of a boat's fuel and power systems. If over time these are changed or added to, then it is the owner's responsibility to maintain the systems in good condition and compliant with the navigation authority's requirements.


iv) The next section is the key part that indicates whether the report records compliance and a BSS Certification has been issued. A BSS Certification Report will be issued if all checks are assessed as compliant, or if the examination finds compliance with all the requirements, but advice checks are not met.

Any non-compliance will be listed in the comments section

v) The second page is for any examiner's comments on checks that have not passed. When these are Advice checks, those marked with an (A), these represent best-safety practice and meeting them all is highly recommended. Any listed in the report may be material to the vessel's insurance and the boat owner's duties under the law of occupier's liability.

In summary

  • Boat owners must still be given either an electronic version of the report, or a paper print-out or both, as the owner prefers.
  • Navigation authorities may still ask owners for examination numbers, the examiner name, examination date, expiry date and the classification of checks used - all of which is then later confirmed through the database.
  • The Certification Report sets out clearly when the boat was examined, what the examiner found, and the certification expiry date.
  • The change will help some navigation authorities to develop online boat registration and licensing, making the administration easier.
  • The BSS would like boat owners to continue to pass on the BSS Certification information from their boat file to the new owner, if or when, the craft is sold on.
  • The BSS examination central database holds only examination and boat data, no owner or personal information is included.
  • This means boats owners do not get direct access to the BSS database.
  • The improvements will also involve essential boat risk information being recorded online by BSS Examiners and this is planned to improve safety on the waterways.