BSS Examinations in the time of COVID-19

BSS Examination Preparation Linked to COVID-19

Last update: 31 Mar 2022

The information on this page is drawn from advice published by the three UK governments and their agencies concerning COVID-19. It was last reviewed on the date above and it could be amended at any time subject to changes in Government guidance.

BSS Examinations are being carried out, all authorised BSS Examiners are working, but it is personal choice for BSS Examiners, and they may change their choice based on external and personal circumstances.

Plan for BSS Examination success. Boat owners and BSS Examiners should work together at the preparation stage so an examination may be undertaken in line with the relevant Government guidance or advice and with a successful outcome of BSS Certification, which will mean, the BSS Examiner does not have to make a return visit.

Examiners should continue to consider taking reasonable measures to prevent: -

  • Acquiring COVID-19 and taking it back to their homes
  • Passing the disease to others, making them ill, and
  • Potentially adding to NHS capacity issues

For boat owners this means taking extra steps and you may still expect some extra disease mitigation conditions being imposed by the Examiner.

We ask you to prepare your boat well for examination so that there are no delays for the examiner (he will spend less time aboard) and so that it passes first time with no return visits.

A return examination may cost you more money and limiting the number of examinations (visits) may help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The three Governments’ advice is to guard against getting infected and spreading COVID-19 by good hygiene and effective barriers: hand cleansing, good ventilation mask wearing, keeping a distance and lateral flow testing before meeting people.

There are three means of reducing the amount of virus in an enclosed cabin:

  • Time - if possible, it is best to have a gap of two days between someone leaving the boat and the BSS Examination happening and then again when the Examiner leaves and the boat used again.
  • Or space – If you have to use the boat before and after the examinations, we recommend the BSS Examination is carried with only the Examiner aboard. So if you can wait away from the boat this will help. You may want to plan for poor weather and find a waiting space to be somewhere warm or dry to shelter while the examiner is aboard. Depending on the complexity of the boat and its systems, the time to undertake a full BSS Examination could be between a half-hour and to two-and-half hours, occasionally more with very complicated and extensive systems.
  • Ventilation: whether time or space is used to reduce disease spread, good ventilation before, during and after the examination is vital. Consider, whether prior to examination you can open, or arrange to have open, the boat’s windows, hatches and doors.

COVID-19 Testing: If you have coronavirus symptoms leading up to the day of examination, please have a PCR test. If a test shows positive, please call the examiner to postpone the examination until you are advised you are clear.

Note for crew members with coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating having had a positive test (lateral flow or PCR).

We request that you consider asking the examiner to re-schedule. If this is going to affect your ability to licence or register the boat, please contact your navigation or harbour authority as soon as possible to discuss your situation with the authority.

Note for when there is a crew member at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19)

You may consider asking the Examiner to take a rapid lateral flow test before visiting you and you are advised to stay off the boat if you can while the examination is underway.

Licensing/Registration: If you want to avoid having a BSS Examination for health reasons or until you have had a full vaccination course, please discuss your position with the navigation authority, harbour authority or moorings management and explain your personal circumstances related to your inability to have a BSS Examination on your boat.

Insurance: don't forget to discuss the matter with your insurance provider if the boat's cover is dependent on current BSS Certification, the BSS cannot extend the Certification expiry date.

The Examiner must spend the least amount of time aboard without compromising the quality of their examination, so access to everything the examiner needs to see and/or touch is very important, if a certification is to be issued:

  • there should be nothing in the Examiner’s way of gaining access to all pipe joints, all hoses, shut-off valves, and switches.
  • If there are gas fuel or electrical systems the Examiner needs to see in certain cupboards, please empty those specific cupboards.
  • Ensure all fire extinguishers, fire blankets and carbon monoxide alarms are in the right place.

The BSS Examiner is unlikely to provide you with a report at the time of visiting, unless they have mobile connectivity. This will be done afterwards and probably electronically.

Good Hygiene

The risk of infection depends on many factors, including:

  • the type of surfaces contaminated
  • the amount of virus shed from the individual (also related to time)

If you haven’t de-cluttered all the areas the examiner has to get to, the more things the examiner will need to touch (and take more time, see above).

The examiner will probably ask you to pay remotely through back transfer, contactless card payment, PayPal, etc to avoid handling cash.

An Examiner is likely to be disinfecting the places and surfaces they have touched. They will probably use standard household cleaning products, so if you have any allergies or concerns about this, raise your points when you book the examination.


The following actions are based on Governmental advice.

  • The BSS Examiner is advised to stay at home and not mix with customers if they test positive for COVID-19 and this is mandatory is some parts of the UK
  • We advise the examiner to not attend if someone on the boat being examined develops any COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive with either a lateral flow or PCR.
  • Anyone staying on their boat who has been told to self-isolate by the relevant Government agency following contact with someone who tested positive cannot have their boat examined until the isolation period is over.
  • For their own safety and their customer's safety they may choose to not examine a boat with anyone aboard
  • BSS Examiners are advised withdraw immediately from an examination of a boat where a crew member is showing any symptoms of COVID-19
  • We advise examiners to postpone any examination of a boat in which any crew members are isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield – it’s critical that the owner must talk with the navigation or harbour authority if the boat's licence or registration is in difficulties because of this.

If any of these events happen, please make alternative arrangements with the examiner for a later date as appropriate.

The latest information on symptoms


When booking the Examiner

The examiner may ask whether all crew can be off the boat in advance or if the boat is in use.

If you are higher risk from coronavirus infection, you may ask the examiner to take a rapid lateral flow test before visiting you.

They will ask is anyone is showing any symptoms of COVID-19 who has been on the boat recently or is on the boat now.

They may ask about the disinfectant cleaner they may use at the time of the examination

The Examiner will want to know if the relevant parts of the boat (i.e. where fuel and power systems are) can be left totally clear of all objects that may be in the way of a clear, unimpeded access.

The examiner will ask that access panels be removed. They are also likely to discuss the subjects hidden or difficult to find pipe joints, hoses, fuel shut-offs, mater switches etc.

Agree with your examiners on the whereabouts of the boat keys, how to access to the mooring site and any names of people who the Examiner will have to talk with on site.

Expect your examiner to ask about use disinfectant cleaners, advise the examiner if you have any concerns/allergies.

Expect to pay by a remote method such as bank transfer, PayPal, contactless card payment, etc.

Expect all reports and findings by electronic delivery such as email, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.

If the boat is unattended and being vacated two or more days in advance – planning for Examination

Use the BSS Examination Checking Procedures to try to ensure boat is fully compliant and accessible can be BSS Certificated and prevent a re-visit.

Remember to leave some windows or hatches partially open for ventilation if it is safe and secure to do so.

Reminder: - Will the key be left somewhere for the examiner (e.g. marina office) then keep away from the boat for at least two days?

Day before the BSS examination

Check BSS and Government websites for latest information.

Anticipate a call from the Examiner, to check on your wellbeing and reassure you about their health; and to double check time slots and access arrangements.

Anticipate questions from the Examiner about all previously agreed actions and processes.

After the BSS examination

If you can, keep away from the boat for two days following the examination.​

Expect the BSS Examination report electronically (note: these should be within 48 hours)

Day of Examination if you are attending or the boat is in use

Anticipate a text/call from the Examiner that all is well e.g. does the weather prevent you and other crew members from leaving the boat.

Open some windows or hatches if the temperature allows and it is safe to do so.

It would be best if you can clean and disinfect objects and surfaces before examiner arrives.

Don’t offer the examiner refreshments, they will have their own.

Expect to pay by a remote method such as bank transfer, PayPal, contactless card payment, etc.

Expect all reports and findings by electronic delivery such as email, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.

Q&As related to the effect on BSS Examinations of COVID-19 protection measures and the related restrictions announced by the UK Government.    



Can you tell me what happening as I need to re-licence/register my boat but my BSS Certification has expired?

Examinations and are being carried out, so you can arrange a BSS Examination as soon as you are able.

If you run into a problem, please contact your licensing or registration authority directly.  The authority will likely write to you asking you to organise a BSS Examination as soon as possible.

I am staying on my boat and I am (either)

isolating because one or more family members has symptoms; or

has tested positive (lateral flow or PCR)

What should I do?

If a crew member is showing symptoms and have an Examination booked within the next few days, please take lateral flow test.

If one or more crew members have tested positive (Lateral Flow or PCR) and you need to register or licence your boat while you are advised to be self-isolating - and your BSS Certification has expired or is expiring soon, you should discuss your options with your navigation authority as soon as possible.

Can you extend my BSS Certificate as I need it to support my insurance policy?

BSS Certification expiry dates are not being extended.  Please contact your insurance company/broker to discuss your options.

Can you extend my BSS Certificate as I need it to support my mooring policy?

Please contact your mooring's management to discuss your options. BSS Certification expiry dates are not being extended. 

My BSS examination is due in a date very shortly, but I cannot get to the boat currently to prepare it?

Watch out for the latest advice from your navigation authority. It is probable that the navigation authority will want you to have a BSS Certification on your boat as soon as reasonably possible. Examiners are taking bookings, so see if you can one or more who are available within a reasonable time frame. If your certification has already expired, let your navigation authority know the date of your booked BSS Examination.