Starting or expanding a boating business

COVID 19 Due to the current situation with Covid 19 the Canal & River Trust will be prioritising work that has been identified as urgent and safety critical. Therefore, we’re afraid we are unable to meet our usual 6 week response time to submit Business Boating applications, this includes both Operating Proposals & Works Proposals.

The Trust is currently operating on an essential and prioritised basis. As part of the Operating Proposal process we conduct an internal consultation and some applications require a site inspection which means that we may not be able to review your application until Government restrictions are lifted.

We would welcome you to still submit your proposal for review and kindly request that you include as much information as possible to support your application.  We are anticipating a high level of applications once restrictions are lifted which may also have a knock on effect on our response time.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and assistance.


If you want to use your boat for anything other than personal, private, pleasure use you will require our consent and it is considered to be a business use. This includes any kind of public use, even if it is by a charity or local club.

This section sets out the different business sectors that your proposed activity might fit into, an overview of the factors that you will need to consider, the regulations that you will need to comply with and the kind of business licence you will need.  If you can’t decide which section is relevant to you, please contact us (please refer to Contact us pages).

Please also look at our General Guidance section for further information that may be useful to you in planning your new business.

The fees that apply to business licences can be found in the application process - fees section.

Please look at the different sectors listed on the right hand side of this page. Then look at our Application process and how to submit an 'Operating Proposal' for the kind of business you want to set up.  We have a new online system whereby you can set up a customer account (if you are not already an existing customer) or register with an existing cstomer number.  You can then proceed to submitting an online Operating proposal.

If you are an existing customer (with an existing property contract) and wish to carry out physical works, it may be possible to progress straight to a Works Proposal (please seek advice from your Business Boating Manager/Business Boating Surveyor.

Last date edited: 2 April 2020