Boats and Boatman
Under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 and the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907, Local authorities have the power to license pleasure boats and pleasure vessels that
  • are used for hire to the public or
  • used for carrying passengers for hire
For a local authority to be able to grant a licence, the boat or vessel must be less than 24 metres long, carry no more than 12 passengers and operate only in categorised waters. These licences do not cover waters that are owned and managed by the British Waterways Board.
For vessels that are less than 24 metres long and carry no more than 12 passengers that operate outside categorised waters, ie at sea, a Small Commercial Vessel Certificate should be obtained from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The British Waterways Boards licence pleasure boats for hire and passenger boats that carry less than 12 passengers that operate in waters owned and managed by the British Waterways Board.
A Boatman’s Licence applies to persons/operators who assist in the charge and navigation of pleasure boats, craft or vessels to be let for hire or be used for carrying passengers for hire. In order to qualify for a Full Boatman’s Licence an applicant must be: 
  1. Over 18 years of age
  2. Have a full knowledge of all statutory rules, regulations and byelaws applicable to navigation on the water or waters for which the licence is required.
  3. Not suffer from any disease or physical disability which could affect his or her fitness to assist in the charge of pleasure boats, vessels or craft let for hire.
  4. Applicants are asked to complete a declaration as to their fitness. Matters to be considered are any limb defect which restricts mobility or movement, Epilepsy, Fainting, or Cardio Vesicular problems or Mental Illness.                    
Licences are issued on an annual basis. They are not transferable and cannot be backdated. 
A fee must be paid at the time an application is made. The fee covers the cost of administration, inspections and enforcement activity.

Apply for a Licence
Applications can be made on line on the Council’s website
Public Register

The public register of existing licences/consents/permits/registrations can be viewed on the Council’s website

Further Information

Further guidance has been issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and is available the following links:

Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code
Code Vessel Safety

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Page last updated on: 16/11/2010