You must follow safety regulations if you own a sailing boat or motorboat.
There are different rules if you own a river or canal boat.
You must follow international safety regulations.
You could be prosecuted if you’re involved in a boating accident and you haven’t followed the regulations.
This means you must:
- plan your voyage
- carry a radar reflector
- carry an illustrated table of the recognised life-saving signals
- help other craft, if needed
- use distress signals properly
The regulations on preventing collisions say that you must:
- fit navigation lights, shapes and sound-signalling devices on your boat
- stay a safe distance away from other boats, and diving boats flying the blue-and-white ‘Alpha’ flag
- always keep a good lookout to see what’s coming your way
You must not drop oil or rubbish into the sea. If your boat is more than 12 metres long you must also display a notice on board explaining how to get rid of rubbish properly.
For more information, read the regulations for preventing pollution from shipson the MCA website.
If your boat is more than 13.7 metres long, you must carry:
- fire extinguishers
The specific details of what you need to carry depends on the size of your boat and how far you’re travelling away from the coast.
You can register your boat with the UK Ship Register. There are 2 types of registration - part III and part I.
UK Ship Register
Telephone: 02920 448 800
Fax: 02920 448 820
Find out about call charges
Part III registration (the Small Ships Register)
Registering your boat under part III of the register allows you to prove the boat’s nationality. It costs £25.
You can register online.You can also make changes to an existing registration online, such as ownership, address or vessel details.
To be eligible:
- your boat must be less than 24 metres long
- you must be a private individual (not a company)
- you must live in the UK (for at least 185 days of the year)
For more information, read the full guidance notes.
Part I registration
Part I registration costs £124. It lets you:
- prove you own the boat
- prove your boat’s nationality
- use the boat as security to get a marine mortgage
- get ‘Transcripts of Registry’, which show the boat’s previous owners and whether there are any outstanding mortgages