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Fixed location trading boat

Statically moored boat selling goods or services. Examples include cafe, restaurant, office, hairdressers, gallery or shop.

Food and drink boat

Usually, a fixed location trading boat will use its trading mooring as its home mooring.

In areas of high vandalism or where servicing the boat is difficult, it is possible to keep the boat at a secure mooring in a marina, for example, and bring it out onto a trading mooring each day.

You may navigate away from your home mooring but you may only trade in accordance with the regulations for roving traders while away from your home mooring.

Trading in one location for more than 28 days

To trade from any one location for more than 28 days in any one calendar year you will need to get planning permission to use the mooring to trade.

You should contact your Local Planning Authority at an early stage. They can provide detailed guidance on preparing your application and advise on what the application will cost and how long it will take to determine.

We will help you with the planning application and it is essential that we approve this application before it is submitted to the planning authority.

Please provide us with a detailed operating proposal so that we can assess your accurately. You must include details of how you will dispose of commercial waste generated by your business.

Acquiring utility services

Most fixed location trading boats require services such as water and electricity. If you intend to supply these to your trading mooring you will need to contact the utility suppliers, draw up detailed plans and get these approved by us.

We will expect you to do all the work and to pay all the costs involved. If you wish to site water points or electricity bollards on our land or use land adjacent to the boat for seating or any other use this will incur an additional charge.

There is a special works proposal process that you will need to follow for these applications, but you should not proceed to this stage until your general operating proposal has been given an 'in principle' approval by the business boating manager.

You may also be charged business rates by your local authority. This is matter for the local authority and we cannot advise or intervene.

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.

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

The Roving Canal Traders Association has recommended insurance companies in case your current boat insurance providers are unable to assist with a commercial insurance extension.

Boat Safety Scheme Certificate

You will need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate. If you want to have customers on board, you will need to make sure that this is a Non-private certificate. 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 we will require a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate regardless of the age of the boat.

Boat licence

All our price list can be found on our fees, terms and conditions page.

When the business boating manager has confirmed that your operating proposal is acceptable, they will forward you a licence application form with the details completed for you to review and return.


You will require a mooring to operate your business. This may either be from an existing mooring (Waterside mooring or offside mooring) a marina or you may have identified a location where you propse a new mooring location (please note seperate mooring fees will be applicable). Whether it is possible to operate a boating business from any of the Trust's waterside mooring sites depends on the type of business it is.

If you have identified a location for new mooring and you believe your proposal meets all of the the criteria within the Business Boating Online Moorings Process, you may proceed to making an application. This can be done with your SDHH Operating Proposal.

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. Payment will be requested as part of your online operating proposal application.

If you are looking to operate a boating business from any of the Trust's waterside mooring sites it will depend 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 waterside mooring webpage.

The information below will help you with your planning:

Commercial / Business Use Application Form

Explanation of Commercial Use Table and Tariff

The application can run alongside your operating proposal submission.

If your proposal requires any physical works (such as mooring pontoon, mooring rings, bollards etc) then you will be asked to complete an additional works proposal following our appraisal. We will undertake a separate consultation.

Waterside mooring T&Cs

Boaters Handbook

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.

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.

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 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.

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:

  1. £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)
  2. £50 (inclusive of vat) for Roving Trader, Trade Plate, Maintenance Work Boat, ROW, Cadets
  3. No fee to be applied to applications for Emergency & Safety Boats and Exhibition Boats.
  4. 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).

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.

Useful downloads

Last Edited: 02 November 2023

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