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The charity making life better by water

Licensing your craft

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 paddle 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 small craft need 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?

A Paddle UK ‘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?

Alternatively, You can buy a licence for your canoe through our licensing website. Prices range from around £5 per day on our Paddlers Portal with various other options available via a short term licence. Please note that a licence allows you to paddle on our canals and rivers, but not our reservoirs. Some reservoirs have sailing clubs which you may be able to join to paddle on them.

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.

Last Edited: 10 April 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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