Important information about the BSS examination

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) started out as a joint public safety initiative managed jointly by British Waterways and the National Rivers Authority. It is now run as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee to support the above bodies' successors, the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency as well as the Broads Authority, Scottish Canals and members of the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA).

The Scheme is designed to ensure, through independent verification, that boats meet the navigation and harbour authorities' minimum safety standards.

The BSS requirements, the examination checks, safety advice and more general information on the BSS and may be viewed and/or downloaded from this website including BSS advice on avoiding fire and carbon monoxide poisoning and well as the safe use of fuels

The BSS examination details for non-private craft can be found on this link.

For privately-owned craft, the complete list of BSS examination check items is split into two categories: requirements and advice.

The requirements focus on reducing the risks of fire starting and spreading, explosion and environmental harm, while advice check list items are there to highlight any potential ineffective flueing of water heaters, inadequate ventilation and the lack of adequate escape routes from accommodation spaces amongst other checks. 

The BSS recommends strongly that all check items relevant to the vessel are complied with to help ensure the health and personal safety of those onboard.

Important note concerning advice items: Except for non-private craft, failure of an advice check list item will not prevent the issue of a certificate, however advice check item faults (as well as requirement non-compliances) may be material to the vessel's insurance and owners are advised to make any such details known to the insurer or broker. 

Advice check item faults may also be material to the boat owner's duties under the law of occupier's liability. 

Companion documentation: We strongly advise keeping the important documents, the Appliance Record and the Examination Report(s) with the BSS Certification report. Please pass these on with all documents if you sell the boat.

If you have doubts as to whether the certificate is valid please use this contact form or email

Or write to:

BSS Manager, Boat Safety Scheme, National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port Cheshire CH65 4FW

Tel: 0333 202 1000