Apply for an accommodation licence on the River Thames

How to apply for an accommodation licence for a structure on the River Thames, the licensing requirements, and licence fees.

You must have a licence if you have an existing structure or want to install a new structure on the River Thames that is:

  • in, on or over the river
  • cut into the bank
  • on a towpath owned by the Environment Agency

Structures are known as ‘accommodations’ and include:

  • jetties
  • pontoons
  • docks
  • boathouses
  • slipways
  • landing stages
  • footbridges
  • offshore mooring piles and buoys
  • rubbing posts
  • miscellaneous piles
  • bank protection works

You must get a licence whether your structure is for private, shared or commercial use.

Getting a licence

You must apply for a licence from the Environment Agency and pay an annual fee.

You cannot transfer a licence to someone else. You must get a licence yourself if you buy or move into a property with a structure.

For some structures, you will be sent a licence plate if your licence is granted. You must display this on the structure.

Keep an existing structure

You must tell the Environment Agency if you:

  • have a structure that has not been licensed before
  • are the new owner of an existing structure

Your structure may be removed and you could be charged for its removal if you do not get a licence.

Complete the accommodation licence application form and return it to the Environment Agency at the address on the form.

Install a new structure or change an existing structure

To install a new structure or change an existing structure you must do both of the following:

Please be aware you may need planning permission. You should contact your local planning authority to check.

Licensing requirements

The Environment Agency will decide whether or not to accept your application based on whether it meets the accommodation licensing requirements.

Each application is assessed on an individual basis, with the local environment and individual requirements taken into account.

If your application does not meet the requirements, the Environment Agency will tell you how to change it so that it does.

Check the requirements for accommodation licences.

Licence fees

You need to pay an administration fee of £55.86 to get your licence, plus an annual fee.

Annual fees are payable from 29 September each year and are charged on a pro-rata basis depending on when you apply. For example, if you apply for your licence on 29 August you will just pay the fee for the period between then and 28 September of that year. You will then have to pay the next year’s fee in full.

The fees you will pay depend on:

  • whether your licence is private or corporate
  • who owns the riverbed

Private or corporate

Your licence will be private if the structure is for your own private use. You will not be allowed to charge anyone to use your structure if you apply for a private licence.

Check the private tariff.

You must get a corporate licence if the structure is for anything other than your own private use, for example if you want to charge others to use your structure or you are a:

  • commercial company
  • hotel
  • school
  • yacht club
  • youth group
  • residents’ association

Check the corporate tariff.

Riverbed ownership

The Environment Agency and the Crown own some parts of the bed of the River Thames. For both private and corporate licences, there is a higher fee for Environment Agency or Crown riverbed.

When you make your application, the Environment Agency will check who owns the riverbed and will calculate your annual fee.

Removing a licensed structure

Before you remove a structure, you should check if you need an environmental permit.

When the structure has been removed, tell the Environment Agency accommodations team by email at or by post at:

River Thames Accommodation Licensing Team
Kings Meadow House
Kings Meadow Road

Your licence will be cancelled when the team has confirmed that the structure has been completely removed. If you can provide photos of the riverbank at your property, this may make the cancellation process faster.

Published 24 March 2015
Last updated 29 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Administration fee updated. From 29 September 2020 to 28 September 2021, the standard administration fee will be £55.86.

  2. New application form added to replace the existing 3 forms. Tariffs and requirements moved to separate pages. Further information about bank protection works added.

  3. Licence fees updated for the new billing year from 29 September 2019 to 28 September 2020.

  4. Updated tariffs for 2018 to 2019

  5. Edited 'getting a licence' section.

  6. Updated years in table. No change to charges.

  7. First published.