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Exhibit boats are boats that are owned by or formally on loan to a recognised canal museum, society or visitor attraction.
Exhibit boats never navigate. There is no charge for looking over the boat but an overall admission charge to the visitors centre at which the craft is displayed is acceptable.
The boat is never used for any kind of trading whatsoever. The boat must be moored on a mooring within the control of the visitor centre at which it is displayed.
There is a list of museums, canal societies and visitor centres that are eligible to apply for such licences. We will consider adding further organisations to this list on request.
The boat must either have a valid Boat Safety Scheme Certificate or a Declaration of Exemption from the Boat Safety requirements must be provided. Please note that if you are going to allow members of the public on board the vessel the Non-private Boat Safety Scheme Certificate will be required.
If the boat is required to navigate, for example to attend events or festivals it must have the appropriate licence for its use.
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.
A copy of the Regulations checklist for each sector can be downloaded here.
You will need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate. If you want to have customers on board, you will need to make sure that the Part 10 inspection has been carried out.
If you wish to licence an unpowered butty for trading purposes please 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').
From 1 April 2018 you will need a Boat Safety Certificate regardless of the age of the boat.
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.
We have now 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 waterway dimensions. There are also pointers on the extra factors owners and hirers of wide beams need to be aware of when navigating and mooring.
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.
Download it below, or order a free hard copy from the online shop.
Exhibit boats require a business licence. There is no charge for an exhibit licence.
If you are a new or existing customer and wish to apply for an Exhibit licence, you need to submit an operating proposal via our online system.
Please provide as much information as possible for us to assess your proposal.
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 and will be applicable for all submissions received from 1 December 2023 onwards.
The fees for each operating proposal are:
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.
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 protected]
Last Edited: 02 November 2023
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