Buy your boat licence
From canoes to large river cruisers, narrowboat or barge , you need to licence your boat if you want to keep and use it on our waterways.
What you need to get a boat licence
Before you buy a boat licence you will need:
- Boat insurance
- A Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate (not required for canoes, kayaks, rowing boats, Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP). If you have a brand-new boat you may have a Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) certificate instead.
What we mean by ‘boat’:
- All types and size of boat with or without a motor, ie, a river boat, canal boat or houseboat
- Any small ‘open boat’ such as canoe, paddleboard, rowing boat or dinghy
What type of licence?
Where do you want to keep and use your boat?
Not all rivers and canals are managed by the same authority, known as the Navigation Authority. Different navigation authorities have different licences and fees. You need to contact each one separately, depending on where you want to use your boat:
- The Canal & River Trust looks after 96 canals and navigable rivers in England and Wales
- The Environment Agency (EA) looks after the River Thames, the River Medway, and rivers in East Anglia
- The Broads Authority looks after the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads
- For Scottish waterways visit the Scottish canals website
- See the Inland Waterways Association’s waterway pages for any other navigation authorities
We have two types of licence: business or private
If you use your boat for any kind of business such as a floating café or shop, renting it out for people to live on or holiday boats, you'll need a business licence.
If the boat is purely for your own private use there are three choices for a private boat licence:
- Long term – if your boat is always or mainly on our waters
- Short term – if your boat is small, like a canoe, or you’re visiting from other waterways
- Gold - this combines the Canal & River Trust and EA licences into one licence
Terms and Conditions for Private Licences
Please read our Terms and conditions.
How much does a private boat licence cost?
Your licence fee depends on the length and width (beam) of your boat, along with the length of time you want the licence:
Boat licensing consultations
National Review of Boat Licensing 2018
In 2018 we carried out a National Review of Boat Licensing.
View all of the the documents related to the consultation process.
Last date edited: 1 October 2021