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The charity making life better by water

Application process and fees

How to apply to set up a new boating business or expand an existing business on our waterways, and business licence fees.

Business boats

All applications are dealt with in the same way. The process is:

  • If you are a new or existing customer with a new business proposal, you are required to submit an operating proposal via our online system. Select the proposal that is most suited to your business idea and provide as much information as possible in order for us to assess accurately.
  • For the assessment of new Operating Proposals there is a non-refundable fee towards our administration and initial assessment costs. The fee is to be paid online to progress your application. The fees for each operating proposal are:
  • £90 (inclusive of vat) for Fixed Location Trading Boat, Static Letting, Self-Drive Holiday Hire, Self-Drive Day Hire, Skippered Hotel, Skippered Passenger, Roving Trader (fuel, events boats & roving café boats)
  • £50 (inclusive of vat) for Roving Trader, Trade Plate, Maintenance Work Boat, ROW, Cadets
  • No fee to be applied to applications for Emergency & Safety Boats and Exhibition Boats.
  • No fee to be applied to existing business who wish to add additional craft (where new craft are to be added to an existing fleet or extension to existing moorings).
  • Once submitted, you'll receive an automatic acknowledgement together with a reference number. At this stage, the relevant business boating manager will invite internal consultation and produce an appraisal response within six weeks. Where the proposal is complex or we require supporting information, we may require longer timescales to complete this review. (You will be notified of any delay). Do not commit financially to your proposed business before receiving our ‘in principle' approval.
  • Where the business boating manager has confirmed that your operating proposal is acceptable in principle and no works are required, they will advise you on the next stage of authorising your business activity (e.g. business licence application or mooring agreement.
  • Where your proposal requires works affecting Trust property, or if you are an existing customer with an existing property contract who wishes to carry out works, you will be asked to complete a Works Proposal for which there is a fee of £456 (£380 + vat).
  • Once in receipt of a works proposal, the relevant business boating manager/surveyor (for existing customers) will invite internal consultation and produce a report within six weeks. Where the proposal is complex, we may require longer timescales to complete this review. (You will be notified of any delay).
  • Where planning permission for the proposed works is required, in order to allow you sufficient time to achieve this, we will allow you up to six months to provide us with a detailed submission following the issuing of our works proposal report.
  • Once we are happy that you have satisfied the criteria, you will be required to enter into an appropriate formal agreement with the Trust before starting any works.
  • The Trust will provide you with an ‘authorisation for access' form for you to display in a prominent place and we will notify the relevant waterway that the works have been authorised. The Trust's engineer or surveyor will monitor the works (as appropriate) and liaise with you throughout the construction stages.
  • Before applying, please make sure that you have read the sections on starting a new boating business, the general guidance and know which sector your proposal fits into. If you need any help at this stage please contact us.

Please note that we may carry out credit checks on both companies and individuals. We will advise you if the checks are unfavourable and speak with you about payment methods and/or guarantees that may enable your application to proceed.

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 contact us via email.

Roving trader Tracey and The Doggie Boat at floating market

Business licence processing

Please be advised that upon receipt of the online business licence application this will be processed by our boat licensing team. This can take up to 15 working days depending on the volume of applications we receive.

Please do not commence trading until you are in receipt of the licence disks.

Transfer of ownership

Please complete the transfer of boat responsibility or change of details form when you cease to be the keeper of a boat that has previously been kept or used on our waters.

This form can also be used to notify us of a change to the home mooring of the boat and enable us to update our records accurately.

Fees and terms & conditions

These are reviewed on 1 April every year.

If you're upgrading from a standard licence to a business licence we can give a pro-rata refund for the unused portion of the standard licence. Your business boating manager will arrange this for you on request.

Last Edited: 17 April 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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