Covid-19 and boating FAQs

Many of your questions regarding Covid-19 and boating are answered on this page.

Can I go boating in England and Wales?

Yes, you can go boating. You can cruise freely and stay overnight on your boat, or a holiday hire boat. There are no restrictions on passenger numbers.

Please refer to the government guidance for England and Wales for the current information on symptoms, testing, and self-isolating, and contact your licence support officer if you have specific issues.

We ask everyone to be respectful of others and continue to follow actions to keep themselves and others safe – this includes basic hygiene measures such as regular handwashing, especially before and after using any facility or structure.

Who should I contact if I need extra support?

If you need an extended stay e.g. for an illness or medical reason please use our online contact form in the first instance. You can also call our Customer Service Team on 0303 040 4040 or contact your local boat licensing support team.

If you need help getting food, prescriptions or other supplies, please get in touch with NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). They also offer a ‘check in and chat’ service.

Below are answers to some of your other most frequently asked questions. Jump straight to the section you'd like to read:

General advice for boaters  Boater facilities and services
Boat licences and Boat Safety Scheme Other activities
Contacting the Trust  

Updated 16 August 2021

General advice for boaters

Is boat movement still restricted?

All boaters are expected to cruise in line with our guidance; if you are having trouble please contact your local licence support officer.

How can I access the Covid-19 vaccine if I am a continuous cruiser who is not registered with a GP?

You can get vaccinated at a walk-in vaccination site: you do not need to be registered with a GP. Please visit the NHS site for more information and to find a site.

How do I reduce the risk of transmission through touching facilities or locks that have been used by others?

It is advisable to wash your hands or use hand gels frequently and follow basic hygiene measures to reduce the risk of catching Covid-19.

Can I use an employee-operated structure?

Please book passage in advance to use one of our employee-operated structures.

Boat licences and Boat Safety Scheme

My Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate is due. What does the government advice mean for renewal?

BSS examiners are working so you can book an appointment. For the latest information on the BSS examination process, please keep your eye on the Boat Safety Scheme website.

How will this affect my restricted licence?

If you have been given a restricted licence, we understand that you will have been unable to make changes to your cruising pattern during lockdown. Please note that boat movement suspensions were lifted on 12 April 2021 and you are expected to cruise as normal. If you’ve any concerns, please contact your licence support officer.

Has there been any reduction in licence fees?

In recognition of the severe restrictions on boating due to the pandemic, we extended all Canal & River Trust leisure boat licences held at the time of the initial lockdown by one month at no cost to boaters.

What if I’m facing extreme hardship or financial difficulties due to the coronavirus crisis and can’t pay my licence fees at all?

We will do what we can to support anyone in this situation and we will try to be as flexible as we can regarding payment where there is genuine hardship. Please get in touch via our online webform or contact your local boat licence support team. If you are in this situation but currently pay by direct debit, please contact us rather than default on these payments as that could cause more problems.

Boater facilities and services

Are boater facilities still available and being maintained?

If you have any Covid-19 symptoms or have had a positive test result then you should not use any customer service facilities. We have increased our cleaning regimes of our facilities and basic hygiene measures should still be followed.

How can I get hold of pump-out cards and facilities keys?

Pump-out cards and facilities keys are available from our online shop – please order well in advance as they may take longer than usual to be delivered. Our offices remain closed for all but operational purposes until further notice. If you have difficulty using the online shop or receiving post, please get in touch and we will see how we can help. 

Other activities

Can I hire a boat at the moment?

Hire boat companies are operating with appropriate safety measures in place. Hire boat operators will be able to advise you on their protocols; please contact the operator for further information.

Can people fish on the towpaths at the moment?

Yes. Read our latest guidance on coronavirus and angling.

Can I still canoe or kayak?

Yes. Read our latest guidance on coronavirus and paddle sports.

Contacting the Trust

How should I get in contact with the Trust?

Please use our online contact form in the first instance. Due to reduced staff numbers our customer service phone number will be operating reduced opening hours of 8am–6pm Monday to Friday (Bank Holidays 9am–5pm). until further notice. If you have a general question and want to speak to someone, you can call our Customer Service Team on 0303 040 4040. Boaters can also contact their local boat licensing support team.

If you want to buy or renew a boat licence, please use our online web licensing portal where possible, while you can buy pump out cards from our online shop. Please only think about visiting one of our offices if you have no other options.

Last date edited: 22 February 2022