BSS Requirements for hire boats (April 2017 onwards)

The information on this web-page is for hire boat operators and sets out essential and useful information, to assist operators make any necessary changes to their hire boats before the implementation date of slightly revised BSS Hire Boat Requirements from 1 April 2017.

We have advice for anyone having their boat examined concerning the precautions related to COVID-19

Before you book and have your boat's BSS Examination, please read these hints and tips about how Covid-19 precautions may effect your examination on the day [LINK]

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

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

Neither BSS Examiners nor the BSS Office can stipulate which boat has what Examination type. This matter is in the hands of the navigation authority. It will define which BSS Examination type will support an application for registration/licence/mooring based on the boat's use.

This page covers Hire Boat Requirements

If you need one of the other two choices, these are the links

Private Boat Requirements  Boat182x182

Other Non-private Boat Requirements  Boat182x182


Understanding the BSS Examination Process

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 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).

The term ‘hire boat’ does not include:

  • privately owned or managed boats;
  • boats operating commercially with a skipper or crew, and which carry passengers;
  • shared-ownership boats managed jointly by the private owners;
  • workboats;
  • emergency service boats and rescue boats.
  • skippered hotel boats,
  • boats let as residences or longer term accommodation

All relevant BSS checks in the Hire Boat Requirements are mandatory compliance, whereas for privately-owned and managed boats the similar set of checks is a mix of requirements and advice checks.

For the avoidance of doubt, these are the checks for Hire Boats that are required compliance and that also appear in the private boat examination procedures as advice checks.

Table version September 2021

Check Item Reference

Check Question


Is the DC electrical system made up of ‘two-wire’ circuits?


Are all AC shore-power lead inlet connections of the correct type in good condition, and suitably protected from the weather?


Are all shore-power and other AC power source lead connections of a suitable type?


Are all shore-power and other AC power source leads and connectors in good condition?


Is it impossible to connect simultaneously more than one power source to the AC distribution system?


Do all AC electrical circuits pass through a consumer unit?


Is the vessel provided with adequate means of escape?



If any solid fuel stoves are installed, and if the vessel has berths present within any accommodation space, is a carbon monoxide alarm provided within the same accommodation space(s) as the solid fuel stove(s)?


Is the vessel provided with adequate fixed ventilation?


Are all appliances requiring a flue, or exhaust fitted with one?


Are all appliance flues and exhausts complete and in good condition?


Do all appliance flues and exhausts terminate directly to outside air?


Are all open flues to LPG appliances operating effectively?


Are all solid fuel appliances free of unintended gaps?

To view and download the public edition the BSS Examination Checking Procedures for Privately Owned and Managed Vessels BSS (version 4.2 Sep 2021) click here.

The Examination Checking Procedures for Private Boats and Core Checks for Hire Boats have been revised and a revised interim edition published on 28 September 2021.

There is more information explaining what changed, why something changed and what hasn't changed on a dedicated webpage here.

Additional BSS Requirements and Checks also apply to hire boats in addition to the private boat ones mentioned above. These additional BSS Requirements for hire boats are  available to view and download - click here.

Technical support for any hire boat operator seeking information to help move their fleet to full compliance is available by using the ‘contact-us‘ page on this site where questions, photos, diagrams and supporting documents can be uploaded to the BSS website or call 0333 202 1000.

Revised and improved BSS Examination Checking Procedures - The BSS committees have revised the Examination Checking Procedures (ECP) for private and hire boats as a result of an extensive review of the Procedures.

These changes are part of a large number of changes to the ECP splitting of Check actions, swapping some Check numbers, text and information improvements that are designed to result in greater consistency in applying the BSS Checks. that will help everyone’s understanding and application of the BSS Checks, whether they are BSS Examiners, boat owners or members of the marine industry.

However, leading from the improvements in clarity and understanding of the Checks, reinforced with recent extensive training of Examiners, situations could arise where an item may be newly discovered as non-compliant and so could require some adjustments or work to meet compliance and improve safety.

Similarly, the improvements may also address the relatively uncommon situation of any previous over-application the published BSS Requirements.

The Changes have also seen the introduction of two increased BSS Requirements and 20 relaxations arising through lessening of some requirements or expanding potential compliance options and the BSS is running a consultation on these changes.

Full details of the changes are set out on this page [LINK] and you can participate in the public consultation on this page [LINK]

Background information from the hirer safety review and resulting consultation leading to the BSS Hire Boat Requirements implementation in April 2017

The original September 2015 consultation paper (now closed) and details of the revisions - click here

A short summary of the changes proposed arising out of the consultation (Sept 2015) can be read here. (Feb 2016)

A summary of the impact for hire operators as a result of the adoption of the private boat checks for hire boats, click here as published for the 2015 consultation

All comments and the BSS responses in detail can be viewed here (Feb 2016).

The news release (Feb 16) announcing decision to implement the revised BSS hire boat requirements from April 2017 can be viewed here  

1 April 2019 - Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm Requirements - section 6.4 of the Examination Checking Procedures

CO Alarms Are Mandatory BW SmallAt least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm is a requirement on nearly all private and non-private boats in scope of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) Requirements. BSS Certifications will not be issued to boats without alarms.

The requirements apply to boats with permanent accommodation, which is defined in this way:

“Space surrounded by permanent boat structure in which there is provision for any of the following activities: sleeping, cooking, eating, washing/toilet, navigation, steering. Spaces intended exclusively for storage, open cockpits with or without canvas enclosures and engine rooms are not included.”

There are four new BSS Check items in the BSS examination:

Check 6.4.1 covers the provision of alarms in suitable numbers – this check ensures everyone on board can hear the alarm if it activates.

Check X6.4.2R for hire boats, requires CO alarms in the same spaces as solid fuel stoves – this is because stoves can present a specific risk if flue gases enter the cabin.

Check 6.4.3 requires CO alarms to be placed in open view, be of a certified quality and have a test function button – this check provides an assurance about the quality of alarm manufacture and performance.

Check 6.4.4 requires CO alarms to be in good and working condition, showing no signs of damage, being within any visible expiry dates and passing the function test using the test button – this check ensures the alarm will work effectively if called upon.

There is a handout available as an essential guide to all the new requirements and background information. It covers what is required and how the checks will be carried out by BSS Examiners and how the alarms will help keep crew members safe. Click on this link to download it. Document Black 20X20