Statutory guidance

Marine licensing exempted activities

Find out which activities may be exempt from requiring a marine licence and what you need to do in such circumstances.



Exemptions allow the MMO to be proportionate in its regulation of the marine environment. They make the marine licensing process more efficient and cost effective in specific cases which the MMO considers to be low risk.

If you intend to rely on exemption(s) you must make sure that you meet the relevant qualifying criteria and conditions. You might also need to notify the MMO about your activities.

Please be aware that the ‘Marine Licensing exempted activities’ document above relates only to marine licences. Marine licence exemptions, where they apply, does not remove the requirement for you to secure any other consents, including wildlife licences, where appropriate.

Enforcement action might be taken if it is later determined that the activity, or the circumstances in which it was carried out, are not consistent with the terms of the relevant exemption.

Exempted activities

Together the exemptions orders 2013 and 2011 list 34 activities which may be exempt from requiring a marine licence (“a licence”). These activities are split into three categories:

  1. exemptions for which no notification is required
  2. exemption which require notification to be given to the MMO
  3. exemptions which require approval from the MMO

In addition there is an exemption in Section 75 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 for certain dredging activities, or the disposal of dredged material carried out by or on behalf of a harbour authority.

Activity Category
Accidental deposits 2
Air accident investigation 1
Bored tunnel 2
Cables and pipelines – authorised emergency repair and inspection 3
Maintenance of coastal protection, drainage and flood defence works 1
Coastguard activities – safety purposes and training 1
Scheduled works under the Crossrail Act 2008 1
Removal of obstruction or danger to navigation 1
Licensed deep sea mining 1
Defence activities 1
Dismantling of ships 1
Diver trails within restricted areas 1
Deposits in the course of aggregates or mineral dredging 1
Fire fighting 1
Fishing operations 1
Flares and other such items for safety purposes and training 1
Emergency works in response to flood or flood risk 3
Rights of foreign vessels under international law 1
Launching of vessels 1
Maintenance of harbour works 1
Markers for European marine sites and marine conservation zones 3
Merchant Shipping Act 1995 - activities falling within Part 6 1
Merchant Shipping Act 1995 - safety directions 1
Moorings and aids to navigation 2
Navigational dredging 2
Deposits in the course of normal navigation 1
Deposit of equipment to control, contain or recover oil 1
Deposit of marine chemical and marine oil treatment substances 3
Pontoons 3
Use of vehicles to remove litter, seaweed or dead animals 2
Salvage 1
Samples for testing an analysis 2
Scientific instruments 2
Activities in the Scottish inshore region 1
Shellfish propagation and cultivation 2
Temporary markers 2
Published 26 April 2016
Last updated 21 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Text updated
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  6. updated section on pontoons and added in link to River Basin Management Plans
  7. First published.