These are boats that are let out on hire to members of the public without a skipper or crew.
Holiday hire boats (SDHH) have sleeping accommodation and are let out for 12 hours or more. They include timeshare boats and shared ownership arrangements where one or more of the owners has a business interest in the boat. It also includes boats owned by a social club where members of that club are able to use the boat unsupervised and any privately owned boat this is offered out for hire to others even if only rarely or for short periods.
Day boats (SDDH) have no sleeping accommodation and are hired out for a periods of up to 12 hours. These may be powered or unpowered e.g. cabin cruisers, electric boats, rowing boats, canoes, paddle-boats etc.
Your boat must be in excellent condition and repair if you intend to offer it for hire. We may ask for photographs or we may come out to inspect it.
You will need a permanent mooring with facilities such as fuel, water, sewage disposal, commercial waste disposal, secure customer parking and a safe place to board the vessel. We may allow you to operate one boat using Canal & River Trust facilities, but we will expect you to have access to third party or your own directly managed services if you want to operate two boats or more. Very small boats may be kept out of the water, but you will still need a safe place for customers to board. We may allow you to use a Visitor Mooring for this, for which there will be an additional charge.
We'll assess your proposal for impact on local navigational safety, water resource and other operational matters.
You will need a commercial insurance policy that provides cover to a value of £2m. A copy of the regulations that apply to each sector can be found here.
You will need a Hire Boat Safety Scheme certificate. Please note that not all boat safety examiners are qualified to carry out the Non-private inspection so check this before placing a firm booking. If the boat does not have any gas or electrical appliances or an inboard motor it may be exempt from the scheme. If your boat is exempt you must 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’). Please note that we will require a Hire boat safety scheme certificate for all hire boats from 1 April 2018, regardless of age.
Public consultation on proposed changes to the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) requirements for hire boats has ended. The comments have been reviewed and the implementation date for a revised set of requirements and modernised checking procedures have been in place since 1 April 2017. A customer update has been issued, please see here for details.
Existing BSS certifications on hire boats will remain valid until they expire. The onus is on hire operators to ensure their boats meet the new and amended BSS Requirements from 1 April 2017.
Further details about the changes can be found here.
You must prepare a detailed Handover Procedure which you must use each time you hire out the boat. It needs to cover the rules of navigation, how to use waterway structures such as locks and bridges, how to operate the boat safely and how to operate any equipment on the boat. It must contain a 24 hour Emergency Call Out service. British Marine produces a Hire Boat Handover Scheme which is incorporated into the Quality Accredited Boatyard scheme, please contact them for full details.
British Marine have worked with VisitEngland to develop the Boat Grading Scheme which was previously operated by Quality in Tourism. They have developed a two tier scheme which includes the Hire Boat Handover scheme and a VisitEngland star rating scheme for holiday hire boats.
British Marine operates the QAB and Boat Grading Schemes under licence from VisitEngland. British Marine are able to offer assessments for both QAB and the Boat Grading schemes.
If you choose to pay British Marine to audit your handover procedure, you can supply us with a copy of the certificate as evidence that you have this in place. If you choose not to have your handover audited, you must supply us with a full copy of your handover document.
The Canal & River Trust has launched a new edition of the Boater’s Handbook in partnership with the Environment Agency. First published in 2002, the Handbook is written for boat owners and hirers and contains lots of 'getting started' tips as well as important information about how to boat safely.
The updated Handbook contains some new information on which waterways are suited to wider craft and which ones only narrow boats should use, with a map that shows which canals are suitable for each. There’s also pointers on the extra factors owners and hirers of wide beams need to be aware of when navigating and mooring.
Download your copy of the Handbook, or watch our video setting out key information, from the same page. You can also order a free hard copy from the online shop. Copies can be ordered, a maximum of two copies per boat.
Boaters can also find a PDF the updated waterway dimensions on our planning your trip pages.
The Handbook was originally commissioned by British Waterways in partnership with the Environment Agency and the British Marine Federation. An expert group was commissioned to develop key messages and content, drawing on other published sources and relevant empirical evidence. Since then, there have been several re-prints which incorporated best practice updates.
We have recently provided an update on the provision of Boaters Handbooks please see here for details.
The current price list for both holiday hire craft and day hire craft can be found on the Fees, Terms and Conditions page here. 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.
If you're hoping to secure a Waterside mooring to operate your business, please see our Waterside Mooring web pages.
Gold licences are available for self-drive holiday hire boats, skippered hotel boats and roving traders. Please note that we cannot give you our consent to trade on any moorings on EA waters as we are not the land owner. You will need to obtain consent from the relevant landowners as you travel. Business Golds are priced at 130% of the cost of the normal Canal & River Trust business licence that applies to your vessel. Please speak to your Business Boating Manager if you would like more information. As with normal Golds, they only run 1 January to 31 December of each year and they are non-refundable.
Other regulations may apply to your business. For example, boats let out for hire must have a Gas Safe Certificate. 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.
If you are a new or existing customer and wish to set up a new hire boat, you must submit an operating proposal using your boat licence account on our online system.
Please provide as much information as possible 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 email@example.com
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.
Last date edited: 29 April 2019