Application process and fees

How to apply to set up a new boating business or expand an existing business on the Canal & River Trust's waterways and business licence fees.

All applications are dealt with in the same way. The process is:

  • If you are a new or  existing customer with a new business proposal, you are required to submit an Operating Proposal via our online system.
  • Once submitted you will receive an automatic acknowledgement together with a reference number.  At this stage, the relevant Business Boating Manager will invite internal consultation and produce an appraisal response within 6 weeks. Where the proposal is complex or we require supporting information, we may require longer timescales to complete this review. (You will be notified of any delay).  Do not commit financially to your proposed
    business before receiving our ‘in principle’ approval
  • Where the Business Boating Manager has confirmed that your Operating Proposal is acceptable in principle and no works are required, he/she will advise you on the next stage of authorising your business activity (e.g. business licence application or mooring agreement.
  • Where your proposal requires works affecting Trust property OR if you are an existing customer with an existing property contract who wishes to carry out works, you will be asked to complete a Works Proposal for which there is a feeof £456 (£380 + vat).
  • Once in receipt of a Works Proposal, the relevant Business Boating Manager/Surveyor (for existing customers) will invite internal consultation and produce a report within 6 weeks. Where the proposal is complex, we may require longer timescales to complete this review. (You will be notified of any delay).
  • Where planning permission for the proposed works is required,in order to allow you sufficient time to achieve this, we will allow you up to six months to provide us with a Detailed Submission following the issuing of our Works Proposal report.
  • Once the Trust is happy that you have satisfied its criteria, you will be required to enter into an appropriate formal agreement with the Trust before starting any works.
  • The Trust will provide you with an ‘Authorisation for access’ form for you to display in a prominent place and we will notify the relevant Waterway that the works have been authorised. The Trusts Engineer OR Surveyor will monitor the works (as appropriate) and liaise with you throughout the construction stages
  • Before applying, please make sure that you have read the sections on Starting a new boating business, the General guidance and know which sector your proposal fits into. If you need any help at this stage please contact us.

We may carry out credit checks on both companies and individuals. We will advise you if the checks are unfavourable and speak with you about payment methods and/or guarantees that may enable your application to proceed.

Please login or register on our online system and select the Operating Proposal that is most suited to your business idea.  Please ensure you provide as much information as possible in order for us to assess your proposal. 

If you do not have access to a computer or mobile device and would like to request a paper copy of the operating proposal please email

Upon receipt of your submitted proposal, you will receive email confirmation and refercne number.  We will then aim to give you an in principle decision within 6 weeks.  Please note that you may need to obtain planning permission and negotiate agreements for using our property which could take much longer to finalise.

Business Licence fees and Terms & Conditions are here. They are reviewed on 1 April every year.

If you are upgrading from a standard licence to a Business Licence we can give a pro-rata refund for the unused portion of the standard licence.  Your Business boating manager will arrange this for you on request.

Business Licence Processing

Please be advsed that upon receipt of the online Business licence application this will be processed by our Boat Licensing team.  This can take up to 15 working days depending on the volume of applications we receive.  Please do not commence trading until you are in receipt of the licence disks. 

Transfer of Ownership

Please complete the Transfer of Boat Responsibility or Change of Details form, when you cease to be the keeper of a boat that has previously been kept or used on our waters.  It can also be used to notify us of a change to the Home Mooring of the boat. This will enable us to update our records and help avoid future inconvenience for you

Last date edited: 24 November 2020