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The charity making life better by water

Emergency & safety boats

These licences are exclusively for boats owned and operated by the statutory emergency services or voluntary organisations nominated by them to carry out emergency rescue procedures.

Canal banks

Safety boats associated with waterway maintenance or construction works should apply for a Maintenance Workboat Licence.

Safety boats used to supervise or monitor club activities should be licensed as club boats.

Boats used for animal welfare purposes are not eligible for this licence. They should apply for a Roving Traders Licence.

Key considerations

The boat will need to be removed from the waterway when not in use or have a [permanent mooring] where it can be kept. We offer no concessions on mooring fees.

You must ensure that everyone using your safety boat is appropriately trained and qualified. As a minimum all skippers must hold a Boat Masters Licence (BML) or equivalent.

Please provide us with an operating proposal of what you intend to do so that we can assess your proposals. We may ask you to restrict training at above the local speed limit to certain areas or times of the year to prevent damage to nesting birds, waders and feeding grounds.



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. The Roving Canal Traders Association has some 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 your boat has only an outboard motor, please provide a Boat Safety Scheme Exemption Declaration instead.

Boatmaster's licence

You must ensure that everyone using your safety boat is appropriately trained and qualified. As a minimum all skippers must hold a Boat Masters Licence (BML) or equivalent.

Other regulations

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.

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

Boat licence

A safety boat will require a business licence. There is no charge for this licence.

When the business boating manager has confirmed that your proposal is acceptable you will then be able to proceed to completing the Business Licence application within our online system.

Operating proposal

If you are a new or existing customer and wish to set up a new business boat, 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:

  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.

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]

Useful downloads

Last Edited: 02 November 2023

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