You usually need to register or licence your boat if you want to keep or use it on inland waterways, such as rivers and canals. Contact the navigation authority of the waterway you want to use to find out.

A boat is:

  • any vessel with or without a motor, for example a sailing boat, river boat, canal boat or houseboat
  • any ‘open boat’ such as canoe, paddle board, rowing boat, kayak or dinghy

To get a boat registration you may need:

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.

You may be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000 or have your boat removed if you do not have an up-to-date licence or registration.

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.