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 prepare a detailed Operating Proposal to enable us to do this.

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



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

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.


If you're hoping to secure a Waterside mooring to operate your business, please refer to the Waterside Mooring web pages to assist with your planning.

Boaters Handbook

The Canal & River Trust and Drifters, the UK’s biggest consortium of hire boat companies, have teamed up to make a 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.

Other regulations

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.

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 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.  Cheques are to be made payable to The Canal & River Trust and posted with your Operating Proposal. 

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

Useful Downloads

Last date edited: 17 May 2018