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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Boat Safety Scheme?

The Boat Safety Scheme, or BSS, is a public safety initiative between the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency. The Scheme is designed to ensure, through independent verification, that boats meet the navigation authority’s minimum safety requirements. Its purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions, or pollution harming visitors to the inland waterways, the waterways' workforce, and any other waterways users.


Why is it necessary?

All private, commercial and hire craft are required to meet the BSS mandatory compliance checks as part of the British Waterways licensing requirements and before the craft can moor or cruise on the waterways. It is also necessary to have a current BSS Certificate to adequately insure your craft. The Boat Safety Scheme has been endorsed and adopted by the majority of the UK navigation Authorities.

Does the BSS Examination ensure my boat is in good order and condition?

No. The BSS Examination is not a full condition survey, nor is it an indication that the vessel is fit for purpose. For example, it does not cover the condition of the hull or deck, the integrity of through-hull fittings or the stability of the hull. It is not the same as having your boat fully surveyed or serviced and doesn’t check its general condition.

What checks will be undertaken?

Your craft will be assessed and checked against the current Examination Checking Procedures published by the BSS. The checks will be tailored to use the sections of this procedure to suit the systems and features of your craft. You can see the complete current document here.

How much does a BSS Examination Cost?

Examinations cost between £200 and £400 plus the BSS Certificate its self which currently costs £65.09 including VAT. The certificate costs are only applicable if your craft satisfactorily passes the examination. Costs vary based upon the vessel type, location and complexity of systems installed. A fixed cost will be quoted on an individual basis upon request.

What do I need to do before the Examination?

You will need to ensure your vessel is in a safe condition and location prior to your examiner arriving. You will also need to ensure that ready access is available to all systems and components required by the Examination Checking Procedures. Adequate supplies of gas, water and power will be required to test systems and the shore electrical supply and on-board electrical systems will require isolation. All these requirements will be explained to you as part of our examination booking procedure and you can find further details here.

How long does a BBS Examination take?

A typical examination takes between 2 and 5 hours depending upon the vessel type and the complexity of the systems installed. This includes a fully explanation and briefing of any issues found during the examination.

What happens if my craft fails the BSS examination?

You will be provided with a fully explanation and written explanation of any issues which are found at the end of the examination. This will enable you to arrange the necessary repairs, remedial or enhancement works. A re-examination of your craft will then be necessary. The cost of this will be the same as the initial examination although the certificate costs are only payable once, when the boat satisfactorily passes the examination.

How long is the BSS Certificate valid for?

All BSS certificates are valid for four years from the date of issue.

When can I get my boat re-examined?

You can get your boat examined at any time and this is particularly useful if you are buying, selling, or refitting a vessel. You can also get your craft re-examined up to two months before the expiry of your existing certificate. If your craft passes the examination the expiry date will be four years from the date of expiry of your last certificate, not the date of examination if this is earlier.

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