Apply for this licence

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Apply to your council for a pleasure boat licence if you want to hire out pleasure boats for personal use or use them for carrying up to 12 passengers.

Pleasure boats include sailboards, rowing boats, canoes, motor boats and pedalos.

If you’re transporting passengers you’ll also need the appropriate pilot’s qualification and certificate.


You must not carry more passengers than your licence permits (normally no more than 12).

You may also need a certificate stating the boat is properly designed, constructed, maintained and equipped and will be safe for how and where you want to use it.

Your council might also attach other conditions to your licence, for example what insurance you need and on which waterways you can take your boat.


You won’t need this licence if your boat is staying in waters owned or managed by the Canal and River Trust, who have their own licensing scheme.

How to apply

You can usually apply to your local council in person, by post or through their website. You’ll need to pay a fee, which varies from council to council.

Displaying your licence

You must display a copy of your licence in a visible place inside the boat.

If you use a pleasure boat to carry passengers you must also clearly mark it with the name of its owner and the words “licensed to carry persons” plus the maximum number of passengers allowed.

Fines and penalties

If you don’t hold a licence and hire out or use your pleasure boat to carry passengers, you could be fined up to £1,000.

You could also be fined £1,000 if you don’t follow any conditions of your licence.