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The charity making life better by water

Trade plates

These are provided to bona fide boat builders, brokers, engineers and mechanics to enable them to keep and move boats temporarily in their care on the waterway.

Smoking boat chimney

If you are building, restoring or repairing a boat for your own private use, you must get a full private boat licence. The same applies if you are offering your own boat for sale. You must not fit out boats on our towpath.

Key considerations

You must have appropriate premises from which to operate your trade. We do not permit people to set up as brokers and boat builders on our towpaths. We will ask for evidence such as business letter headed paper, bank statements or a live website to prove that you are operating a boating business. Boats on Trade Plates may not be moored on towpath locations at any time except when being collected from or delivered back to a customer and a break in the journey is unavoidable.

Boats awaiting collection by customers must be kept on proper moorings in your control and not on the towpath. Please bear in mind that all premises used for commercial activities will need planning consent for that 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.

Here is a link to the Roving Canal Traders Association which has some recommended insurance companies in case your current boat insurance providers are unable to assist with a commercial insurance extension.

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

Trade plate log

You are required to maintain a log of every use that you make of your trade plate. In order to assist you in keeping a log of the use of your trade plate, we have produced a template that you can download and print off. Do please keep it up to date, as we can only renew trade plates when accompanied by their log for the previous year. You will be required to submit this log to enable you to renew the plate.

Boat licence

All our price list can be found on our Fees and Terms & Conditions pages here. A copy can also be found on the useful downloads at the bottom of this page.

Operating proposal

If you are a new or existing customer and wish to apply for Trade Plates 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.

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.

Useful rownloads


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Last Edited: 02 November 2023

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