We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Choosing and buying your licence

If you have a boat that will stay on a Canal & River Trust managed waterway, you will need to buy a long term boat licence.

If your boat is very small (such as a canoe or rowing boat) and you only put it into the waterway for occasional trips, a short term visitor licence will be enough.

The definition of ‘waterway’ includes the great majority of long term mooring sites and marinas, so your boat needs a licence whether or not you actually take it out for a cruise.

If you intend to use the boat commercially, you need a business licence.

All licences allow you to use your boat on waters managed by us, including mooring for short periods while cruising. This means you can stay up to 14 days or less, but keep an eye out for signs because you’ll need to move on sooner at some more popular sites.

If you want to leave your boat for longer than 14 days between cruises, please visit our mooring page.

How to buy a licence

Just like a car, a boat needs to be insured before it cruises the waterways. It also needs the boat-equivalent of a MOT known as a Boat Safety Certificate (BSC). These are issued by the Boat Safety Scheme, who can put you in touch with your local examiner. Lastly, you must either declare a home mooring for the boat if it’s being kept on the water when not in use, or agree to Continuously Cruise.

You can find more information on this here: requirements for obtaining a licence

Buy your licence online

You can now manage your boat licences online. You can also update your contact details, tell us you've moved to another home mooring, sold your boat or buy a licence for a new boat.

If, for any reason, you’re not able to apply online then application forms for all licence types are available from the following:

Useful downloads page

Our Customer Service Centre

Local waterway offices and licensing agents

How to pay

We accept payment by the following:

  • Cheque crossed and payable to Canal & River Trust (postal applications only)
  • Most major credit cards (except AMEX) for which a charge of £7.50 will be made
  • Debit card or Switch (no charge applies)
  • Cash (only if you are applying in person)
  • Direct Debit (for licences over £100)
  • Paying by Direct Debit

We can only hold one set of bank details on your account – so any licence or mooring fees must be paid from the same bank account. Once your instruction is set up, we need reasonable notice of any changes you request, or you may incur a handling fee.  Please take some time to read over the full terms and conditions in relation to paying by Direct Debit.

Incentives for Paying Promptly

If you renew your boat licence before it expires, you can take advantage of a 10% discount on the standard fee. To qualify we must receive your payment and correctly completed application (with supporting information such as insurance and Boat Safety details) before the start date of the licence.

The normal, undiscounted licence fee applies in all other cases. A Late Payment charge of £150 also becomes due if the boat stays unlicensed on Trust waters for more than a month – this is a fair reflection of the extra costs we incur in collecting overdue fees.

When your licence is expiring, we’ll send you a reminder by email or post where we can, but it’s a good idea to keep a note of when your licence is due, as it’s the boat owner’s responsibility to make sure the boat is properly licensed at all times.

Last date edited: 3 September 2015