We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

These are for workboats that are used exclusively for qualifying waterway maintenance work.

These are for workboats with no overnight accommodation that are used exclusively for ‘qualifying waterway maintenance work’. This is defined as follows:

Work on waterway infrastructure, structures or development sites adjacent to the waterway under contract to the Canal & River Trust, another statutory undertaker or a private contractor, providing that the work is undertaken from or involves direct access from the craft operating on the waterway.

The boat will require a home mooring unless it is removed from the waterway when not in use.  We understand that some works will take longer than 14 days, but there is no provision for leaving these craft on the waterway between jobs. 

This licence does cover the removal of 'Section 8' boats from the waterway, but not private towing contracts or cargo carrying; these activities require a Roving Trading Licence.  The Policy for Workboats and Cargo Carrying gives further details.

Key considerations

The boat will need to be removed from the waterway when not in use or have a permanent mooring where it can be kept . 

This licence does not apply to any boat with living accommodation on board.


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


You will need third party and public liability cover to a value of £2m for damage or injury caused by you, your boats or your staff.

Boat Safety Scheme Certificate

You will need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate. If you wish to licence an unpowered butty, hopper, dumb barge or workflat please provide a Boat Safety Scheme Exemption Declaration instead.

Boatmaster’s Licence

All skippers on the licensed craft must hold a valid Boatmaster’s Licence (BML) or equivalent.

Boat Licence

Workboats require a Business Licence. All our price list can be found on our Fees and Terms & Conditions pages here.  A copy can also be found on the useful downloads at the bottom of this 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.

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.

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.

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.

Useful Downloads

Last date edited: 7 March 2016