Licence your boat

From canoes to large river cruisers, narrowboats to barges, you need to licence your boat if you want to keep and use it on our canals and rivers.

Checking boat licences Checking boat licences in Birmingham

Getting your boat licenced

Before you buy a boat licence you will need:

  • Boat insurance
  • 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’:

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. Different navigation authorities have different licences and fees. You need to contact each one separately, depending on where you want to use your boat: 

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, rent it out for people to live on, or use it as a holiday boat, 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:

  1. Long term – if your boat is always or mainly on our waters
  2. Short term – if your boat is small, like a canoe, or you’re visiting from other waterways
  3. 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?

Calculate the approximate cost of your licence here

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: 2 August 2022