If you’re looking to purchase a boat or have just recently purchased one, you’re going to need to know all about boat licenses. No matter what type of boat you buy in the UK, including narrowboats, barges, canoes and kayaks, you will have to register for a license in order to keep and use it on our waterways. 

In this blog, we’ll be helping you to understand what a boat license is and why you need one. Here is everything you need to know… 

A Guide To Buying A Boat

Before you can start searching the internet for questions like what is a boat license and why you need one, you are going to need a few things. Before you can buy a boat license you will need boat insurance and a boat safety scheme certificate. 

Boat Insurance

The cost of boat insurance varies from person to person, but on average, it typically costs around £200 for one year but this price can alter depending on many factors. Boat insurance protects you financially in the event that your boat is ever damaged or stolen and also covers you if you accidentally damage another boat. 

Having a good insurance policy for your boat can save you a lot of money if you ever needed to make a claim in the future. 

If you’re using inland waterways, you’ll usually need to have third party insurance, especially if you have a powered boat or houseboat. For more information about boat insurance, head to the Government website here

Boat Safety Scheme Certificate

A Boat Safety Scheme Certificate (BSSC) is issued by an examiner and is treated very similarly to a vehicle MOT. These certificates typically cost approximately £200 and last around 4 years. 

By law, your boat must comply with the standard for boat construction, which includes installations and components. With the help of this scheme, fires and explosions on boats are minimalised and the standards combine essential safety needs and best safety practise advice. 

For further information, please visit the Canal & River Trust’s website here

Buying The Correct Boat License 

Not all canals and rivers are managed by the same Navigation Authority and with each management authority, there are different licenses and fees. To help you understand a little bit more about buying the correct boat license, here are some of the biggest Navigation Authorities:


Business Vs Private Boat Licenses

There are currently two types of boat licenses, business and private. If you use your boat for business use such as a floating restaurant or hire it out, you will need a business license. Private licenses are for those who use their boats for private use, but these licenses sectioned into three different types:

  • Long term – your boat is always on CRT waterways
  • Short term – your boat is visiting other waterways or is small such as a canoe
  • Gold – this combines a CRT and EA license together


Narrowboat Marinas & Mooring 

Now that you know what a boat license is, you can start exploring your local or even national waterways! Based in Nantwich, Cheshire, our marina is perfect for anyone looking for narrowboat mooring in the North West. Get in touch with our team today on 01270 524 571 for more information or email us on sales@swanleybridgemarina.com.