Licensing your canoe

It's not just narrowboats that need a licence on our canals and rivers. All portable, unpowered craft such as canoes, kayaks, dinghies, rowing boats, paddleboards and even light inflatable craft do too.

Can I canoe on the canal?

Yes, everyone is welcome to canoe on our canals and rivers. However, you will need to get a small craft license before paddling on the water. 

Why does my canoe or kayak needs a licence?

Our 2,000 miles of canals and rivers need a lot of TLC to keep them in great shape for everyone to use and enjoy - no matter the size of craft. As well as maintaining things like canal walls or water flow, your licence fee goes towards making sure there are enough easy access points, ramps and slipways for example.

What's the easiest way to licence my canoe, kayak or paddleboard?

You can buy a licence for your canoe through our licensing website. Prices range from around £20 for a week’s licence on a river only to around £122 for 30-day ‘Explorer’ licence on a canal or river (prices as of April 2022), which allows you to spread out your use across the year.

Alternatively, a British Canoeing ‘waterways licence’ gives you access to 5,000 miles of inland waterways, including our canals and rivers. It also gives you access to the waterways managed by the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority.

For Welsh canals and rivers see membership details for Canoe Wales.

What do I need if I just want to paddle on the Trust's canals and rivers?

If you live near one of our waterways and just want to explore close to home, you can also buy a licence directly from us.

Where can I find out more about paddling on canals and rivers?

If you want to find out more about paddling on our canals and rivers take a look at our paddling pages

We look forward to seeing you out on the water.

Last date edited: 4 April 2022