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FAQ - BSS (BOAT SAFETY SCHEME)

What is a BSS Certificate?

A BSS Certificate is proof that the boat complied, ON THE DAY OF THE EXAMINATION, with the relevant Navigation Authorities' (e.g. the Environment Agency, Canal & River Trust, etc) minimum requirements for licensing.

What is the difference between a BSS Certificate and a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, or a Boat Safety Certificate, or a Canal & River Trust Boat Safety Certificate?

There is no difference. The BSS Certificate was formally called a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate. Also, a BSS Certificate is sometimes incorrectly termed a Boat Safety Certificate. Most Navigation Authorities insist upon a BSS Certificate being held, not just Canal & River Trust.

How long is a BSS Certificate valid?

A minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 4 years & 2 months, depending upon the expiry date of the existing Certificate.
Many Certificates are renewed part way through the term but that does not mean there was necessarily something wrong with the boat. Some surveyors for example, if registered as a BSS Examiner, may issue a new BSS Certificate inclusive in the cost of a pre-purchase survey.

Who issues a BSS Certificate?

Only an authorised BSS Examiner registered with the Boat Safety Scheme. There are around 200 Examiners across the England, Wales and Scotland. Many inland waterways Marine Surveyors are registered Examiners.

Does a BSS Certificate mean that the boat is safe?

No, not wholly. The Certificate only covers some and not all aspects of safety. Areas not covered include hull condition, boat stability and engine condition.

Should I rely upon the Vessel Identification details on a BSS Certificate, ie length, beam & age?

No. None of this information on the Certificate is verified by the Examiner.

Why this there an 'advice check list items' section to the BSS Certificate?

For privately-owned craft there are parts of the Boat Safety Scheme that are not mandatory, termed advisory items. These include items relating to personal safety on or within the boat. Hence, a craft may carry a valid BSS Certificate with some non-compliant items. This is indicated on the BSS Certificate in the section marked Examination Details. The most common aspect not meeting an advisory item is the high and/or low level cabin ventilation (which may be marked as '8.9.1' on the Certificate).

Should I rely upon a BSS Certificate when purchasing a boat?

No, not wholly. If a boat carries a valid BSS Certificate this does not give an indication of the boat's condition. Further, it only indicates that the boat complied on the date the Certificate was issued.

For further information, please try the following organisation: Boat Safety Scheme

Also, you can view or download the BSS Essential Guide that includes preparing for examination, booking the examiner and complete details of every check on boat. All checks are colour coded so you will know what is being checked and how, as well as whether the issue of the certificate depends upon passing that check.


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