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Time for members to get their QAB up to date

Published on: 14 October 2021

Quality Accredited Boatyard

The Quality Accredited Boatyard (QAB) Scheme is a hire boat operation assessment which is run by British Marine, in partnership with Visit England

Following the pandemic, we are now working to ensure all British Marine members who hire vessels on inland waters, have a valid QAB certificate in preparation for next year's season. 

The QAB Scheme is assessed every three years and is a mandatory requirement of British Marine membership for all inland hire boat operators. 

The QAB Standard focuses on the systems and procedures hire boat operators carry out in running their hire boat operations, including:


  • Health, safety, legal and environment processes
  • Hire boat handover processes.
  • Website and brochure offerings.
  • Arrival and departure procedures.
  • Customer service procedures – onshore and when customers are away from the boatyard.
  • Facilities, for example car parking, reception, toilets, etc.


But it’s not just another set of rules to follow, there are a number of benefits for you and your company in taking part in the scheme; you get an independent audit of your systems and procedures, giving you peace of mind that you are doing the right thing in the right way. You also get to use the Visit England Rose at your premises, and on your marketing. 

There are more than 56 different Navigation Authorities throughout the UK, and all have different requirements in order to obtain a licence to run hire boats. The QAB scheme gives the ability to harmonise these different requirements nationally, ensuring that the customer has a fully enjoyable, exciting, safe experience when boating with any British Marine member.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all Quality Accredited Boatyard assessments had to be stopped in March 2020, but as of 12 April 2021 and under the government's roadmap, British Marine has been able to restart Quality Accredited Boatyard and Boat Grading (BG) Scheme examinations. This means the assessors are now able to come out to conduct QAB and BG assessments with the inland hire sector.

It is a requirement for all British Marine inland hire boat operators to have a valid and up to date QAB certificate. If you do not wish to participate in the scheme, it unfortunately means that British Marine membership will no longer be available to you. 


Boat Grading 

Not to be confused with the QAB scheme, The Boat Grading Scheme is a voluntary scheme which is like a hotel grading scheme where your boats will get graded from 1-5 stars (5 being the max). Each star has a specific set of requirements that the boat must achieve to be awarded that star. 

The Boat Grading Scheme looks at the quality and condition of individual narrowboats and cruisers, and the comfort and ease of use for those hiring them. Having a Boat Grading scheme rating gives customers a clear expectation of what to expect and can improve the customer experience, and in turn help your business. However, Boat Grading can only be carried out once the yard/operator has a valid QAB certificate in place.

If you are an inland hire boat company then we please ask that if you have never had a QAB assessment, your QAB certificate has run out or it is going to run out soon, then please contact as soon as possible to request the documents needed to book in for your assessment.