1. Overview

You must register or license your boat if you want to keep or use it on inland waterways, eg rivers and canals.

A boat is:

  • any vessel with or without a motor, eg sailing boat, river boat, canal boat or houseboat
  • any ‘open boat’ eg canoe, paddle board, rowing boat or dinghy

To get a boat registration you must have:

You must renew each year for the waterway you want to keep or use your boat on. You can buy a visitor registration or licence for shorter periods.

Carry more than 12 passengers

You must have a passenger-carrying certificate issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency if you want to carry more than 12 passengers.

Commercial use

You must apply for a boatmaster’s licence if you want to use your boat commercially.

Use at sea

You can register your boat with the UK Ship Register for use at sea.