Boats and Boatmen

Boats 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.

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 Canal and River Trust.

For vessels that are less than 24 metres long and carry no more than 12 passengers that operate outside categorised waters, i.e. at sea, a Small Commercial Vessel Certificate should be obtained from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website .

The Canal and River Trust license pleasure boats for hire and passenger boats that carry less than 12 passengers that operate in waters owned and managed by the Trust.

Where a licence is granted for a pleasure boat, it shall remain in force for up to one year.


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 Boatmans Licence, various supporting documentation including an application for must be submitted.

View the Pleasure Vessel - Boat and Boatmans Licensing Policy (PDF,190KB,8 pages) to find out more.

If a Boatman Licence is granted, it shall remain in place for up to three years.

How to apply

View the fees, this must be paid at the time an application is made. 

Apply for a Boatman Licence online by contacting us directly.

Further Information

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