Boat Safety Scheme: application for exemption

Application for exemption from requirement to pass boat safety scheme examination.

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In 2010, the introduction of the Inland Waterways Order (IWO) brought in new registration requirements for river users. At that time the Environment Agency introduced a new registration option, allowing boats not compliant with Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) standards to be kept but not used on the River Thames and the River Medway and still hold a registration, this was known as the Boat Safety Scheme application for exemption or ‘red registration’.

After nearly six years, the Environment Agency removed the option on 1 January 2017 for the Thames and on 1 April 2017 for the River Medway and now insists all river users meet the full registration requirements, including a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate. This means powered boats must comply with our construction and equipment standards, to ensure we are minimising the risk of boat fires and explosions. The removal of this option brings the Thames and Medway in line with other waterways across the country, including the other rivers the Environment Agency manages.

Other Environment Agency guidance:


Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) - Application for exemption from requirement to pass examination

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Boats not required to have a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate (BSSC) for a maximum of 12 months from 1 January are:

  • Boats kept afloat but not used and requiring work to bring back into compliance with BSS standards before being returned to service or sold. ‘Used’ means someone living or staying aboard or navigating the waterway.
  • Other boats undergoing planned restoration / refit / refurbishment if kept afloat.
Published 10 July 2013
Last updated 20 November 2015 + show all updates
  1. The Application form for exemption from requirement to pass boat safety scheme examination has been updated.
  2. First published.