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The charity making life better by water

Annual national boat count

Our annual national boat count shows that licence compliance on our waterways remains high with 96.5% of boaters holding a valid licence.

A narrowboat moves along the canal, surrounded by trees

The national boat count also shows how rates differ across the country, as well as changes in boat numbers. The boat count identified a 2.3% increase in boat numbers, with all regions except the North West seeing small increases in boat numbers. London & South East was the only region where licence compliance was under 95% (at 94.1%).

Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at Canal & River Trust, said: “I'd like to thank all those boaters who pay their licence on time. It's important that boats are licensed correctly. Not only does this mean they're insured and hold a boat safety certificate, but it means they're playing their part in contributing to the huge task of keeping our canals and rivers open. Boat licences contribute around 10% of our total income so it's important that everyone who keeps a boat on our waterways pays their fair share.

“Our Boat Licence Customer Support team is out every day helping boaters who might be struggling with their licence requirements. We always urge boaters to talk to us, as in the vast majority of cases we're able to find a way to keep people on the water.

“However on occasion we do have to take robust action to remove boats. In 2018/19 106 boats were removed from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions despite the best efforts of our Boat Licence Customer Support team.”

The survey, completed in March, records boats on waterways across England and Wales and provides a comprehensive snap-shot of licence evasion. The information is used to support the day-to-day work carried out by the Trust.

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Last Edited: 03 May 2019

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