Exhibit boats

Exhibit boats are boats that are owned by or formally on loan to a recognised canal museum, society or visitor attraction.

Key considerations

Exhibit boats never navigate.  There is no charge for looking over the boat but an overall admission charge to the visitors centre at which the craft is displayed is acceptable.  The boat is never used for any kind of trading whatsoever.  The boat must be moored on a mooring within the control of the visitor centre at which it is displayed.

There is a list of museums, canal socities and visitor centres that are eligible to apply for such licences.  We will consider adding further organisations to this list on request.

The boat must either have a valid Boat Safety Scheme Certificate or a Declaration of Exemption from the Boat Safety requirements must be provided.  Please note that if you are going to allow members of the public on board the vessel the Non-private Boat Safety Scheme Certificate will be required. 

If the boat is required to navigate, for example to attend events or festivals it must have the appropriate licence for its use. 



You will need a commercial insurance policy that provides public liability cover to a value of £2m.

A copy of the Regulations checklist for each sector can be downloaded here.

Boat Safety Scheme Certificate

You will need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate. If you want to have customers on board, you will need to make sure that the Part 10 inspection has been carried out. If you wish to licence an unpowered butty for trading purposes please provide a Boat Safety Scheme Exemption Declaration instead. We will accept a Declaration of Conformity with the Recreational Craft Directive in place of a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate if the boat is less than four years old (one year, in the case of ‘sail aways’).  From 1 April 2018 you will need a Boat Safety Certificate regardless of the age of the boat.

Boat Licence

Exhibit boats require a Business Licence.  There is no charge for an exhibit licence. 

When the Business Boating Manager has confirmed that your Operating Proposal is acceptable, he/she will forward you a licence application form with the details completed for you to review and return.

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

Other regulations

Other regulations may apply to your business. 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

Please submit an Operating Proposal if you wish to proceed.  Upon receipt of your proposal, we will write and confirm receipt and 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.

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

Useful Downloads

Last date edited: 19 October 2015