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Boatmasters’ Licences (BML) Requirements

The requirements for the Boatmasters’ Licences (BML) in the UK is governed by the Merchant Shipping (Boatmasters’ Qualifications, Crew and Hours of Work) Regulations 2015. The Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1853 provides in-depth explanations of the processes involved when applying for a BML.

Boatmasters’ Licences comprise of 2 different categories; Generic (national licence) and Specific (restricted licence). These are further broken down into 2 separate tiers and levels:

  • Generic Tier 1 Level 2 – for operating a vessel anywhere on the UK’s inland waterways, categories A-D and limited coastal areas, except where local knowledge requirements apply
  • Generic Tier 1 Level 1 – for operating a vessel anywhere on the UK’s non-tidal waters, categories A and B and non-linked C, except where local knowledge requirements apply
  • Specific Tier 2 Level 2 – restricted licence valid for specific areas of category A-D waters and limited coastal areas (excluding the River Thames below Teddington)
  • Specific Tier 2 Level 1 – restricted licence valid for all category A canals, specified areas of category A and/or B waters or specified areas of non-linked category C waters 

The eligibility requirements to qualify for a BML are:  

  • A minimum age criteria; please refer to MSN 1853
  • Completed the required Qualifying Service Time, as evidenced in a Work Record Book
  • Provide certificates of successful completion of ancillary safety training in Personal Survival, Fire Safety and First Aid
  • Have of a valid medical certificate, either an ML5 or ENG1, whichever is appropriate
  • Be examined to exhibit competency in underpinning knowledge
  • Be examined on local knowledge where the applicant will be working on waters where its features and characteristics can present a hazard to safe navigation
  • Undertake a practical boat handling test 

Applicable fees are available in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Fees Guidance.