Short term visitor licences

These licences are for small, unpowered or trailed boats and larger vessels visiting Canal & River Trust waterways for short periods from other navigations or coastal waters. They are not available for boats floating in marinas or moorings connected to Canal & River Trust managed waters, with the exception of ’Rivers Only’ licence holders wishing to extend their licence to cover a short term cruise on canals.

One month, one week and one day licences

  • Canal and River Licence: allows you to keep and use a boat on any of our Waterways in England and Wales.
  • Rivers Only Licence covers the following:
    • Avon (Hanham Lock to Bath)
    • Bow Back Rivers
    • Fossdyke & Witham (Torksey to Boston)
    • Lee Navigation (Hertford to Limehouse)
    • Limehouse Cut
    • Ouse and Ure (Goole to Ripon)
    • Severn (Stourport to Gloucester)
    • Soar Navigation (Trent Junction to Leicester)
    • Stort Navigation
    • Tees (Tees Barrage to Low Worsal)
    • Trent (Shardlow-Gainsborough, including the Nottingham & Beeston Canal)
    • Weaver Navigation (Winsford Bridge to Manchester Ship Canal)

Thirty Day Explorer

Ideal for portable craft this licence gives you up to thirty days use of all our Waterways in England and Wales at any time within twelve months of issue date - the days do not need to be consecutive. We provide you with thirty, one-day tickets, which you date and display for each day that your boat is on the waterways. These licences are only available online.

Short Term Visitor Licences do not include free passage through the Anderton Lift, Standedge Tunnel or Ribble Link.


Your boat must have insurance that covers at least third party liabilities up to one million pounds.

Boat Safety

Your boat should comply with our safety requirements at all times unless it is a very simple vessel.

Check to see whether it is exempt by tracing through the questions on this chart.

Please note; if the boat spends more than 56 days on our waterways in any one year, it must have a certificate to show compliance with the Boat Safety Scheme requirements or a declaration of conformity with the EU's Recreational Craft Directive.

We have the right to refuse access onto our waterways for any boat that we think may present a safety risk to other waterway users. In purchasing a short term visitor licence you agree to allow our employees or an appointed surveyor to carry out a safety check at any reasonable time. If we believe your boat is dangerous, you will have to remove it from the waterway.

To qualify for a licence your boat must have one of the following:

  • a current certificate to show compliance with our Boat Safety Scheme requirements
  • a current Declaration of Conformity with the EU's Recreational Craft Directive

We will issue a short term visitor licence without either of the above if you are able to satisfy the conditions contained within the Boat Condition Declaration - please complete the separate Application Form. Licence fees can be found on the Useful Downloads page.

Please note that licences may begin on any date and prices include VAT at 20 per cent. Prices shown are for purchase in advance, before you bring the boat onto the waterway, otherwise the price is double the amount shown.

The price for all other unpowered craft is the same as for powered boats. Refunds are not available. 'Portable' means that the boat's normal crew can, without mechanical help, launch the boat and take it out of the water. Examples are rowing boats, dinghies, canoes or light inflatable craft.


If you have a current three, six or twelve month Canal & River Trust River Only Licence, you are entitled to a 50 per cent discount on a Short Term Canal Licence, which is valid for the same period. All boats used by clubs and societies must be licensed, visit the boating businesses pages

Waterway facilities

We provide a range of basic services for boaters, including water points, refuse disposal, toilets and Elsan emptying points throughout the waterway network. These are generally free to licence holders. Access to sanitary facilities is by a special Yale key, available from the online shop. Where showers, laundry facilities or electric charging points are available, payment is by digital card. On some waterways you need an anti-vandal key to operate structures.

Please visit the Useful Downloads for full Terms & Conditions, application forms and fees. However, it's much faster and easier to buy your short term visitor licence online.

Last date edited: 20 November 2018