The charity making life better by water

How we monitor boat movement

As part of having any kind of boat licence, all boats need to move every 14 days (or sooner depending on the mooring sign), unless you’re on your home mooring of course.

Licence Support Officer checks boat licences in London

One of the great things about boating is the freedom to tie up almost anywhere. But with around 35,000 boats sharing 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, some rules to fairly share the mooring space are helpful.

These rules are set out in your licence terms and conditions – and mooring time limits apply to all boats - no matter what type of licence you have.

Please respect the time limits

Whether you are a continuous cruiser or cruising away from your home mooring, everyone's boat licence includes permission to tie up for a short time along the towpath. These are either:

  • 14 days (no longer)
  • 7 days
  • 48 hours
  • or whatever length of time the sign along the towpath shows if you're at a visitor mooring

Share the mooring space

If you need to stay somewhere longer, please be sensitive to other boaters' short term mooring needs and if need be, find a home mooring.

Tell us if you have an emergency

If you need to stay longer because your boat's broken down, you've had an incident or accident or become ill, please contact your local boat licence customer support officer or contact us using our web contact form to request an extended stay.

Recording all boat movements

Have you met one of our local monitoring teams or rangers on the towpaths?

They monitor all boat movements (not just continuous cruisers) and help to make sure everyone keeps to their licence terms and conditions. When our team record the location of a boat, they mark which kilometre of waterway it's on.

Continuous cruising monitoring process

Early in 2015 we introduced a new process to monitor the movement of boats without a home mooring (continuous cruisers). Here you'll find some information about how we monitor these boat movements, why we have to do it, and what it might mean for you:

What happens if boats don't move on?

If our boat licence customer support team record that a boat hasn't moved after 14 days (of less depending on the visitor sign), whether they're on a visitor mooring or just mooring on the towpath, we'll send that boater a 'reminder' letter asking them to either continue their journey or to get in touch with our team if there's a problem preventing them from continuing their journey.

Last Edited: 28 July 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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