Skippered passenger boats

Boats offering scheduled trips, private charters, water taxi or water bus services or a hotel boat service with a qualified skipper and crew on board.



 Key considerations

Your boat must be in excellent condition and repair if you intend to use it for trips of any kind. 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. You may also need to provide parking and have good vehicle access to the boat so that you can restock any food and drink items you sell on board. 

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. You should also detail all of your proposed pick up and drop off points. We may occasionally give our consent to use visitor moorings for this purpose, but there will be an additional charge for this.

We will assess your proposal for impact on local navigational safety, water resource and other operational matters. You should include as much details as possible within youronline application to enable us to do this.

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



You will need to obtain Third party and Public Liability Insurance cover provided by a company that is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority which covers liabilities of at least two million pounds for each claim.

You must provide us with evidence that you are insured for your proposed activities on application.

Here is a link to the Roving Canal Traders Association which has some recommended insurance companies in case your current boat insurance providers are unable to assist with a commercial insurance extension.

You will need an MCA Class V Passenger Certificate if you carry 13 or more passengers. You will need to contact your local MCA office for detailed advice about this. 

If you carry 12 or fewer passengers you will need a Non-private boat safety scheme certificate an a Declaration of Compliance with the Small Passenger Boat Code.

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

Boat 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.


Whether it is possible to operate a boating business from any of the Trusts Waterside Mooring site depends on the type of business it is. If it is possible, an uplift on the mooring agreement fee may be applicable. You will also require a suitable business licence.  

Further details are available on our webpages:

If you're thinking of using your boat to run a business or commercial activity, or are hoping to secure a mooring to start a boating business or commercial activity, the information below will help you with your planning.  The application can run alongside your Operating proposal submission.  

Commercial / Business Use Application Form

Explanation of Commercial Use Table and Tariff

Boaters Handbook

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.

Other regulations

Other regulations may apply to your business. For example, boats let out for hire must have a Gas Safe Certificate. 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.  It is your responsibility to ensure you have in place all other additional licences, permits and consent that may be required in the course of your business.

Operating proposal

If you are a new or existing customer and wish to set up a new bsuiness 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. 

Upon receipt of your submitted proposal, you will receive an automatic 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.

For the assessment of new mooring location there is a non-refundable fee of £90 inclusive of VAT (at standard rate) towards our administration and initial assessment costs. 

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

Useful downloads

Last date edited: 11 January 2022