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.

As part of the Operating Proposal process, we conduct an internal consultation and some applications require a site inspection which has meant that we have been unable to review a number of new submissions whilst some staff are on furlough.

We currently have a backlog of applications that have been placed on hold since March, we have commenced progressing these in phased approach. Once these have been cleared, we will log new applications.   You are able to submit a new operating proposal, but please note that we are not operating within our usual response timescales.

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: 21 August 2020