Club boats

Information for clubs, associations, schools, colleges and others using the waterways for regular, supervised activities.

There are many clubs, associations, schools, colleges and others using the waterways for regular, supervised activities. The boats should be licensed and there should be an agreement in place outlining what activities are permitted by time, frequency, area and number of participants. This agreement will cover any special arrangements, such as the granting of permission for a coaching boat or racing boats to exceed the local speed limit.


We have a block licensing arrangement with the British Canoeing to cover individual members. We strongly advise individual canoeists to take out membership as this provides both insurance and your water licence. We also have an agreement to licence boats owned and operated by British Canoeing affiliated clubs. We are working with British Rowing to put a similar agreement in place to cover BR affiliated clubs.

If you choose to licence your Business with British Canoeing you will need a Quality Mark Accreditation from them to operate a business or a club. We understand that this is an annual process and you will need to meet their quality mark each year.

This would cover you to operate on our waterways, however we would advise that you still submit an Operating Proposal to us so we are aware of your operation.  Please also seek advice from the local waterway or Area Operations Manager well in advance of your visit regarding any local condition and safety issues that may affect unpowered craft in the area. More information can be found here about Delivery Partner Licensing requirements.

There is a block licensing agreement in place with the Scout Association and hope to work with the Sea Cadets to form similar arrangements when time allows.

We understand that British Canoeing has been confirmed as the national governing body for stand up paddling. This means that stand up paddlers who are members of the BCU are licensed. Non British Canoeing stand up paddlers must get our consent for their activities and license their boards as private unpowered craft.

Anyone wishing to hire out canoes, rowing boats, stand up paddle boards or any other unpowered craft should refer to the self drive hire regulations.

If you want to licence boats owned by a local club or society or want to put in place an agreement to use our waterways please contact us.

Cruising Clubs, where private boat owners choose to moor/cruise or gather together for social purposes, are not included here. They are considered to be purely private boaters.

Key considerations

You will need moorings for any club boats kept on the water and an approved place to board members if using trailed boats.

You must provide evidence that you are properly insured for your activities including any damage or injury that you or your members might cause to other boaters, towpath users or waterway structures

You should make sure that all your officers and coaches are appropriately trained and, where necessary, CRB checked.

You should have a full risk assessment in place that includes your supervision and emergency procedures. We may ask to see this.

Other regulations

Other regulations may apply to your activities. Please read our General Guidance section and make your own independent enquiries to ensure that you understand and comply with all the regulations relevant to your proposed operation.

Boaters Handbook

The Canal & River Trust and Drifters, the UK’s biggest consortium of hire boat companies, have teamed up to make a new DVD covering boating basics. A companion to the existing popular boaters handbook, it contains lots of 'getting started' tips for hire boaters and new boat owners, as well as important information about how to boat safely.

The DVD can be viewed on our Navigating the Waterways page.

Operating proposal

If you are a new or existing customer and wish to set up a boating business, you need to submit an operating proposal via our online system.

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 reference number. We will then aim to give you an in principle decision within six 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

Do not commit financially to your proposed business before receiving our ‘in principle’ approval.

Useful downloads

Last date edited: 20 May 2022