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

Requirements for obtaining a licence

You’ll need to do a few things before we’ll issue your boat licence. We need to see proof of insurance - mandatory in most cases and strongly advised for others.

Waterway users’ safety is very important to us, this is why your boat will have to comply with our Standards for Boat Construction – there are a few exemptions but this only applies to a small minority of boats. Read on for more information.


As a boat licence holder, you are responsible for any injury or damage caused by you or the boat. Damages could be substantial and it is therefore a requirement that you have third party liability insurance for the boat.

You must have in force an insurance policy in the name of the licence applicant for the boat, provided by a company that is regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority. It must provide cover for third-party liabilities for at least two million pounds and must remain in force for the complete duration of the boat licence. You must ensure that the insurance is appropriate for the intended use of your boat.

If your current insurance certificate expires before the start date of the new licence, you must renew the insurance before applying for your licence.

When applying for your licence, you are asked to declare the following details of your boat's insurance:

  • Name of insurance provider
  • Policy number
  • Expiry date of the policy

The policy holder's name must be the same as the licence applicant.

Your renewal reminder shows the policy name, number and expiry date that we currently hold for you in our records. You must update this by correcting these details on the form.

We accept your declaration of insurance cover in good faith. We do however carry out random sample checks to validate the policy information supplied.

Unpowered Boats

There are risks to third parties associated with any boat on the waterways, so we strongly recommend you have insurance in place for unpowered as well as powered boats. We will not however refuse a licence for an unpowered boat (as defined in the terms and conditions) if the application does not include an insurance declaration. Insurance for unpowered boats is readily and cheaply available and is often automatically included within relevant club memberships.

Standards for Boat Construction & Equipment

There is a legal requirement for boats to comply with the Canal & River Trust's Standards for Boat Construction. You are responsible for making sure that your boat is maintained so that it complies with the required standards at all times.

Exemption from requirement to provide evidence of compliance

If your boat does not carry any gas or fuel, has no electrical circuits and no domestic cooking, heating, refrigeration or lighting appliances, it might be exempt from the requirement to produce evidence of compliance. Use this chart to determine whether your boat is exempt from this evidence requirement.

If your boat is exempt you will need to tick the appropriate box on your licence application form.

Home Mooring

The boat must have a home mooring (as defined in the Licence Terms and Conditions) - somewhere you can lawfully leave your boat when it is not being used for cruising. The only exception is for boaters who declare themselves as 'continuous cruisers' - more information can be found in the Terms & Conditions.

Last date edited: 5 April 2016