MCA Boatmaster licences - BML

We provide both practical and oral preparation courses for the BML examinations. Training can be tailored for individuals, small groups or Companies and there are several training options available:

Mock Orals and short knowledge refresher sessions
6 day oral preparation courses
MSQ Units leading to an SQA Qualification and possible exemption from the oral exam.

For Companies with a number of employees to qualify as Boatmasters we are able to design a package to suit their needs. In addition to the generic syllabus for the underpinning knowledge, we can provide training for some Endorsements.

Training takes place primarily in Plymouth, some elements can be taught from our London base or in a training room at the Company's location.

Who requires a Boatmasters’ Licence (BML)?
All masters operating commercially in UK waters are required to be suitably qualified. Vessels operating on ‘Inland’ Waters or as defined by the MCA as categorised and limited coastal areas must have masters qualified under the BML Regulations or equivalent.

The BML Regulations apply to masters operating on Category A – D waters and limited coastal areas.  Limited Coastal Area is defined as “no more than 5 miles from land and 15 miles from a point of departure”.

Information on categorised waters can be found in MSN 1837 ‘Categorisation of Waters’. See resources below.

Commercial vessels under 24 metres and carrying less than 12 passengers operating in categorised waters,  under the Small Commercial Vessel Code can be operated by masters holding appropriate certificates under that code.




Oral preparation

For seasoned seafarers who already have an RYA/MCA Certificate or Competence or have been working on an exemption but are maybe a little rusty or daunted by the syllabus we offer a six day pre oral exam prep course to assist in filling in the knowledge gaps between small craft commercial certificates and those required by the Boatmaster syllabus. Included in the course are two volumes of specific Boatmaster training materials covering each syllabus point.  The course costs £840 per person. Click to view scheduled course dates, or call or email us with your requirements.

For 1:1 or groups, we can tailor courses to cover your exact requirements on specific subjects.

Online Skype Boatmaster mock oral or prep - 2 or 4 hour sessions
This is a highly effective way to cram particular subjects or general subject areas. We use video skype connection, so you will need a stable internet connection. The system we use is fully interactive and previous students have given very positive feedback.

The system is fully tailored to subject areas that you would like to work on or we cover a mock oral exam. Because the training is tailored exactly to your needs, a lot of ground can be covered quite quickly, or we can spend more time on particular subject areas that you require.
2 hours £80 – 4 hours £155                        8 x 2 hour sessions £550

Practical preparation
We offer a day or more afloat to fine tune boathandling practices and safety procedures.
Prices depend on the vessel but start at £450pd

MSQ Units
The MSQ units lead to the Scottish Qualification Authority Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Rivers, Inland Waterways and Limited Distances to Sea; which can be used as evidence of the require Underpinning Knowledge instead of the MCA Oral Exam.

The units can be completed in a 7 week block, or throughout the year. Prior knowledge and experience in any of the units can be used instead of attending the training. The Units, duration and costs are:

STCW Fire Fighting - 1 day, £192 STCW Survival - 1 day, £120 STCW First Aid - 1 day, £120
Mooring and unmooring - 2 day, £300 Rope work and safe access - 2 day, £300 Emergency procedures - 1 day, £150
Safe working - 2 day, £300 Manoeuvring - 1 day. £150 Emergency manoeuvres - 1 day, £150
Maintenance - 1 day, £150 Anchoring - 1 day, £150 Bridge watch keeping - 3 days, £450
Meteorology - 1 day. £150 Navigation - 5 days, £750 Ship knowledge & construction - 2 days, £300
Radar - 3 days, £450 Engineering (MCA AEC) - 4 days, £650

Prices include VAT, lunch and training materials but exclude SQA Certification costs. Contact the office for details.

SeaRegs have been involved in producing training materials for a London based company. Our resources have been designed specifically for Boatmaster training.

What are the levels of BML?
Under the updated BML qualification published in early 2015 there are now 4 levels of Boatmaster

Tier 1 Level 1 (T1L1) 

National Licence valid for operating a vessel anywhere on the UK's non-tidal waters (Category A, B and non-linked C), except where local knowledge requirements apply

Qualifying Service time - min 12 months

Tier 1 Level 2 (T1L2) 

National Licence valid for operating a vessel anywhere on the UK's inland waterways (Categories A-D) and limited coastal areas, except where local knowledge requirements apply.

Qualifying Service time - min 24 months

Tier 2 Level 1 (T2L1) 

Restricted licence valid for all Category A canals and (i) specified areas of Category A and/or B waters; or (ii) specified areas of non-linked category C Waters.

Guideline Qualifying Service time - 40 days in min 6 months

Tier 2 Level 2 (T2L2) 

Restricted licence valid for specified areas of category A to D waters and a limited coastal area. This licence is not available for the Thames below Teddington.

Guideline Qualifying Service time - 40 days in min 6 months

All candidates are examined both orally and practically by a MCA surveyor/examiner.

How do I qualify for a BML?
To qualify for a BML you need the following:
- an application form  MSF 4364
- First aid, survival and firefighting certification*
- a medical certificate ML5 or ENG1
- a completed Task Record Book MSF 4367
- work record or evidence of time served MSF 4366
- meet minimum age requirements

* we suggest the following courses to provide you with the necessary certificates
- STCW 95 Elementary First Aid - 1 day
- STCW 95 Personal Survival Techniques – 1 day
- STCW 95 Fire Fighting –  1 or 2 day
click to view STCW course dates and availably

Once your application has been assessed by the MCA, your local Marine Office will contact you to set a date for:
- an oral assessment on underpinning knowledge unless you have evidence of completing of the MSQ units
- a practical boat handling assessment

What is tested during the exam?
There is a published syllabus of underpinning knowledge, the Maritime Skills Alliance have worked with the MCA to produce MSQ units covering the syllabus. The underpinning knowledge syllabus is tested by the MCA during an oral examination or it may be assessed by completing the MSQ units.

MSN 1853 Boatmasters' Qualifications, Crew and Hours of Work 2015
MSF 4364 BML Application
MSF 4367 Task Record Book
MSF 4366 Work Record
MSN 1837 Categorisation of Waters
MIN 495 Boatmasters' Qualifications, 2015 Local Regulations