The charity making life better by water

New structure of boat licence pricing following increase announcement

Following the announcement on 19 September about changes to future boat licensing, we are today giving further details about the increases in licence fees to be applied from 1 April 2024.

Licences for all boats on our waterways will increase above inflation for each of the next five years. The surcharges for boats without a home mooring and wide beam boats will be applied in addition to that.

The following licence pricing will be applied, starting from 1 April 2024 (with the surcharges for boats without a home mooring and for wide beam boats also summarised in the table beneath):

All boats

Standard licence fee: All boats will see an above-inflation increase in each of the next five years. This will be determined in November of the preceding year when the latest inflation forecasts are available from the Bank of England i.e. the increase to be applied from April 2024 will be announced next month.

Boats without a home mooring

Boats without a home mooring will see a total surcharge of 25% applied on top of the standard licence fee. It will be phased in, so that the surcharge in each year is as follows:

  • April 2023 (existing): Standard licence fee
  • April 2024: Standard licence fee + 5%
  • April 2025: Standard licence fee + 10%
  • April 2026: Standard licence fee + 15%
  • April 2027: Standard licence fee + 20%
  • April 2028: Standard licence fee + 25%

Wide beam boats

Wider boats will see an increase to the current surcharge.

Boats 2.16m/7ft 1” – 3.24m/10ft 7½” (Band 2) will see an increase from the existing 10% surcharge to a 25% surcharge. It will be phased in, so that the surcharge in each year is as follows:

  • April 2023 (existing): Standard licence fee +10%
  • April 2024: Standard licence fee +13%
  • April 2025: Standard licence fee +16%
  • April 2026: Standard licence fee +19%
  • April 2027: Standard licence fee +22%
  • April 2028: Standard licence fee +25%

Boats over 3.24m/10ft 7½” (Band 3) will see an increase from the existing 20% surcharge to a 50% surcharge. It will be phased in, so that the surcharge in each year is as follows:

  • April 2023 (existing): Standard licence fee +20%
  • April 2024: Standard licence fee +26%
  • April 2025: Standard licence fee +32%
  • April 2026: Standard licence fee +38%
  • April 2027: Standard licence fee +44%
  • April 2028: Standard licence fee +50%

Wide beam boats without a home mooring

Wider boats without a home mooring will see both surcharges combined.

Boats without home moorings over 2.16m/7ft 1” – 3.24m/10ft 7½” (Band 2) will see an increase from the existing 10% surcharge to a 50% surcharge. It will be phased in, so that the surcharge in each year is as follows:

  • April 2023 (existing): Standard licence fee +10%
  • April 2024: Standard licence fee +18%
  • April 2025: Standard licence fee +26%
  • April 2026: Standard licence fee +34%
  • April 2027: Standard licence fee +42%
  • April 2028: Standard licence fee +50%

Boats without home moorings over 3.24m/10ft 7½” (Band 3) will see an increase from the existing 20% surcharge to a 75% surcharge. It will be phased in, so that the surcharge in each year is as follows:

  • April 2023 (existing): Standard licence fee +20%
  • April 2024: Standard licence fee +31%
  • April 2025: Standard licence fee +42%
  • April 2026: Standard licence fee +53%
  • April 2027: Standard licence fee +64%
  • April 2028: Standard licence fee +75%

Prompt and online payment

There will be a reduction of the prompt payment discount from 2.5% to 2% and a reduction in the online payment discount from 2.5% to 0.5%.

Table: Annual increase for boats without a home mooring and for wide beam boats between 1 April 2024 and 1 April 2028:

Licence Fees for 2024 to 2028

The licence fee makes an important contribution to our income, accounting for 11% of revenue. Whilst the cost of the licence has largely kept pace with inflation since the Trust was formed, the increases being introduced from April 2024 will help with the increasing cost of looking after the ageing canal network – at a time when government has announced significant cuts to public funding.

Alongside the changes to boat licensing, we continue to grow income from property and non-property endowment, and from other commercial sources such as hosting utilities and water transfer. We are targeting a step-change in income generation from towpath users and other supporters, with fundraising income projected to grow by 10% each year – whilst other commercial waterways income, including from anglers, paddle sports and moorings, is also set to increase.

Last Edited: 05 October 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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