Preparing to Pass the Boat Safety Scheme

When purchasing a Narrowboat it is important to remember that you will require a Boat Safety Scheme certificate. The purpose of this is to help reduce the risk of fires, explosions, or potentially harming people or environment on the UK inland waterways. Once you gain your BSS certificate, these last for four years, and when the expiry date is near, you will require a BSS examiner to renew your certificate. If you are able to keep up with regular narrowboat maintenance it will help to ensure it is safe when on the inland waterways and definitely help you pass first-time.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Have you checked that all connections, components and fittings comply with the appropriate requirements?
  • Do you have any documents about a specific component's manufacturing standard?
  • If you have appliances on board you should check:
  • If they have gas/oil to run
  • Any battery powered appliances, ensure these are fully charged
  • For boilers or heaters, check there is enough water in the system in order for these to work
  • Check that all access points are open and unlocked to make it easier for the examiner

If you are buying a used narrowboat, it is possible that the appliances could have become damaged over time and may have even not been set up to meet basic legal requirements.

We’d advise that you take the time to check the following:


  • You should be sure to check that your appliances are fully secured to avoid any movement when the boat is moving.
  • Any appliances that have a flue will be checked for loose joints or holes and ensure that they are in line with the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • You should look for any signs of fuel leaks or heat damage.
  • Stoves and wood burners must not have breaks or openings which could allow carbon monoxide to escape into the boat.


Harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide can build up from appliances, but depending on the types of appliances you have on board your boat, the BSS examiner will determine how much ventilation is required. In advance, you should ensure you have a carbon monoxide alarm and smoke detectors installed.

Visit the Boat Safety Scheme website for more details on how to prepare for your examination.

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