Private Boat Requirements

The complete list of BSS requirements including all checks are available to view and download on this page (By clicking on the link on the image below - 900kb). These examination checking procedures are for privately-owned, privately managed boats in private use.

We have new advice for having your 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]

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, only the navigation authority can state what set of requirement it wish to support that boats registration/licence/mooring permission application.

This page covers private boat requirements (boats in private pleasure, leisure and residential owner occupation)

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

Hire Boat Requirements  Boat182x182

Other Non-private Boat Requirements  Boat182x182

Understanding the BSS Examination Process

In addition to the advice on the page called Preparing for examination, we have the additional advice arising from the changes introduced in January 2013:

Be prepared - boat owners must ensure the BSS Examiner can carry out careful checking of the LPG cylinder locker for condition, including the removal of all loose portable items, base protection mats, removable false floors and the temporary removal of connected LPG cylinders.

So please discuss your LPG cylinder locker arrangements with your examiner in advance of the examination as this may require your attendance or you to make prior arrangements involving service agents.

LPG lockers not accessible enough to allow an assessment of condition will involve the BSS Examiner having to return to carry out the check with the obstruction removed.

Where a boat uses a.c. shore-power and other a.c. power sources, the following notes on connection leads should be taken into account -

  • If practicable and safe to do so, boat owners should disconnect shore-power, battery charging, and other power sources in readiness for the BSS examination;
  • Boat owners should make available the shore-power, battery charging or other power source leads for examination of type and condition.
  • Information about the location of the a.c. consumer unit should be made known to the examiner in advance of the BSS examination.

BSS Examination Checking procedures for Private Boats

There are two types of checks. Those marked with an 'R' are Requirements, they must be complied with if a certification of boat is to be made.

Those marked with an 'A' are Advice Checks i.e. good advice that will help you meet your responsibilities as a boat owner for the safety of people aboard your boat.

Although privately-owned boats do not have to comply with advice checks to achieve BSS certification, each one represents best-safety practice and meeting them all is highly recommended.

Any listed in the Examiners report may be material to the vessel's insurance and the boat owner's duties under the law of occupier's liability.

As such, we recommend that your boat meets all BSS Advice checks. You can then be confident that as an owner, you have achieved a higher standard of safety.

We stress that a BSS examination is not a full condition survey, nor is it an indication that the vessel is fit for purpose and it doesn't check the boat’s general mechanical condition.  For example, it does not cover the condition of the hull or deck, nor does it include the integrity of through-hull fittings and/or the stability of the boat. Your boat’s safe condition must include having your boat and appliances being competently installed and serviced in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.

The owner's on-going responsibilities include running the equipment as per the instructions and maintaining 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.

 document or 90x90Download the third Edition of the BSS Examination Checking Procedures for Private Boats 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 6.4.2 is an Advice check for private boats, promoting a CO alarm in the same space as a solid fuel stove – 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


Note on the BSS Examination for non-private boats

- If a vessel is a trip boat, rented residential boat, floating business or some other form of commercial or public use vessel, but not self-drive hire craft, the boat will be examined to the 2002 BSS Standards.

This link and the link on the left hand side of this page will take you to the BSS examination for non-private Boats.

Note on the BSS Examination for hire boats

A revised set of requirements and modernised checking procedures (April 2017) 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).
  • Boats let on a non-moving bed and accomondation basis on some navigation authorities (please check with your appropriate navigation authority)

The term ‘hire boat’ does not include (these remain in the non-private category above):

  • 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.
  • moving hotel boats,
  • boats let as residences or longer term accommodation (please check with the appropriate navigation authority first)

Please note this important information: - Existing BSS certifications on hire boats will remain valid until they expire. The onus is on hire operators to ensure their boats meet the new and amended BSS Requirements from 1 April 2017.