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Ready for renewal?

Every year there’s a boat licence bill to pay, so let’s help you do it the easy stress-free way. Here’s seven tips from us to help make your boat licence renewal go smoothly.

Boats moored in Diglis Basin

Boat safety

Do check that your Boat Safety Scheme certificate (BSS) is still in date. If your BSC is also due for renewal give yourself plenty of time to get it organised as Boat Safety examiners get very busy at this time of year. Do remember to check if anything has changed so that your boat passes first time.

From 1 April 2019 you'll also need to have carbon monoxide alarms fitted. If you haven't got the correct type and number of carbon monoxide alarms mounted in the correct position you won't get a BSC.


You must have a valid insurance policy in place at all times. Typically, your insurance renewal falls close to your boat licence renewal, as you had to get insurance before you could purchase your first boat licence. If your boat is an older craft, your insurance company may need a condition survey for continued comprehensive cover.

Get organised quickly as you can as it can take quite a while to find a vacant dry dock or slipway slot and a marine surveyor who is available on the same day. Make sure your surveyor is a member of one of the recognised marine surveying institutes such as the International Institute of Marine Surveying or the Yacht Designers & Surveyors Association.

Same boat and same size?

Has anything about your boat changed since last year? Have you had an extension welded to the back of your boat to accommodate your bicycles? You do need to declare a new boat length to include the extension. Equally, if you've had your boat stretched (surely you couldn't forget that), then again you do need to declare a new boat length. If you've changed boat altogether you won't be able to renew the licence, you'll need to apply for a new one for your new boat.

Empty trip boat moves passed moored boats in Islington City Rd Basin


Is your mooring status the same as last time you licensed your boat? If you've changed marina or mooring location, or if you've decided to start continuously cruising, or if you've stopped continuously cruising, you do need to let us know before we renew your boat licence. You can update your mooring status at anytime by logging onto your online web licensing account.

Please see our FAQs on the recently announced changes to boat licensing.

Money, money, money

Always the big question, have you got enough money in your bank account? Don't forget you can spread the cost of your boat licence by paying by direct debit. If you are suffering from financial hardship it's best to get in touch with your local licence support officer before your licence renewal is due rather than later, we may be to help and signpost you to help if appropriate. If your boat licence is paid by benefits you will need to approach your local council as early as possible to make sure you can get things arranged in time. If you want to know how much your licence is going to be you can find our licence fees sheets on our webpage.

Contact details

Are your contact details still the same as last year? If you've changed address, email or telephone number do let us know in good time, or log onto your account to update your details. Email is particularly important as we normally send our renewal notices out by email.

Licence discs

You do still need to display your licence discs as well as your boat index and name. If you need your boat licence discs posting to you because you don't have access to a printer, make sure you change your correspondence status with us to "Post" so that we put your licence discs in the mail for you.

If you've lost or misplaced your boat index plates you can either order new ones from our online shop or download paper ones you can print via your account in web licensing.

Remember the fastest and easiest way to renew your boat licence is online.

Last Edited: 28 February 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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