From April 2018, the cost of a Canal and River Trust boat licence will rise by 3%. The announcement comes as feedback is sought on the future of the national boat licence

16 October

Next year, boaters will have to pay more for a Canal and River Trust boat licence.

The trust has announced that private and business boat licence fees will rise by 3% from 1 April 2018, saying this was “roughly in line with inflation forecasts for next year”.

It said income from boat licence fees helps it to continue its charitable expenditure of over £150 million per year.

The increase comes as the Canal and River Trust continues its consultation on the overall structure and future of boat licensing.

It said that no changes resulting from the consultation will be implemented before April 2019.

The trust is urging all boaters and boating groups to take part in the final stage of the process.

It has published a series of licensing options based on the feedback given by boaters in the first stages of consultation held during the spring and summer.

The options include:

  • Licence considerations for wider beam vessels on the waterways;
  • Consideration of the range of licence discounts offered to different customers;
  • Considerations in respect of the Prompt Payment discount;
  • Considerations for short term licences;
  • Licence considerations in respect of mooring status;
Impact of any changes following the consultation.

Boaters have until 18 December 2018 to respond to the consultation.

After the closing date the trust will then draw up a final set of proposals to be approved by the charity’s trustees. These will include any details of when any changes will come into effect.

Continued below…

Commenting on the consultation, the Canal and River Trust’s customer service and operations director, Ian Rogers, said: “The consultation sets out to get boaters’ views on the future of boat licensing, including how to make sure that the important financial contribution made by boaters is spread fairly across the boating community.”

“We’ve been pleased to see so much interest in the consultation from boaters and I’d like to thank everyone who’s taken part so far.  Now we’re asking for the entire boating community to take a look at the proposals we’ve developed as a result of these conversations and let us know their thoughts,” he continued.

Narrowboats on a busy stretch of a canal

Boating through Stoke Bruerne. Credit: Canal & River Trust

Roger stressed that “nothing is set in stone and”, and the trust was still “open to new ideas”.

“All our boat licence holders will receive either an email with a link to the consultation, or a letter inviting them to take part.  We want the consultation to be as accessible as possible and, for those boaters who may not have easy internet access, we can provide paper copies either by post or from our offices,” he stressed.

“I’d urge boaters to read through the proposals and tell us what they think.  We want to work together with the boating community to shape a licensing system that it simple and fair,” added Rogers.


20 July

All current boat licence holders will be given the chance to have their say on the future of the national boat licence.

The Canal and River Trust said the final stage of its consultation will start in mid-August, and boaters will be able to respond by email, post or telephone.

Stage two of the consultation, which is being run by Involve, the independent charity specialising in public engagement, saw 988 boat owners wanting to taking part in the workshops.

It has just finished, and a report into the views and topics that came up will be published on the trust’s website shortly.

The Canal and River Trust wants to hear boaters’ views on the fairest and simplest way to split the financial contribution made by them towards the upkeep of the waterways.

Narrowboats moored on a canal with a dark sky in the background

Shropshire Union Canal. Credit: Canal & River Trust


The trust’s customer service and operations director, Ian Rogers, said so far, the input by boaters had been encouraging.

“We’ve had a fantastic response to the consultation so far and it’s great to see so much interest in a topic that is fundamentally important for our boaters,” he said.

“It’s vital that the financial contribution made by boaters is spread fairly across the boating community – both now and for the future”.

“I’d encourage all our boating customers to respond to the consultation when it goes live in August so that we have a full view of boaters’ thoughts and feelings to help us shape the future of boat licensing,” stressed Rogers.

26 April 

Holders of the Canal and River Trust’s national boat licence are being asked for their views on the scheme.

The charity says the current licensing system has remained “largely unchanged for more than two decades”, and is often cited by boat owners as being “complex and out of date”.

To address this, it is holding an independent consultation, and has employed Involve, the independent charity specialising in public engagement.

It aims to ask boaters the fairest and simplest way to split the important financial contribution made by the different types of boats and boaters towards the upkeep of the waterways.

Involve has already spoken to the the UK’s main boating groups, such as the Residential Boat Owners’ Association and the National Association of Boat Owners.

Now, it is seeking the opinions of the 33,000 licence holders who use the trust’s network of rivers and canals.

A narrowboat makes its way down a canal

Peak Forest Canal. Credit: Canal & River Trust

In a media release, the trust said the points made during stage one will “form the basis of discussions in a series of boater workshops across the country”.

Workshops will be hosted by Involve at venues across the trust’s network.

Each workshop will consist of up to 15 boaters representing a range of different interest groups, such as boats with and without home moorings, leisure boaters, residential boaters, narrow and wide beam boaters, and a facilitator from Involve.

The aim of the workshops is to help shape stage three of the consultation which will be open to all licence holders.

A narrowboat moored on a canal

Devises Cana;. Credit: Canal and River Trust

The trust is in the process of emailing all current boat licence holders with an online link where they can express their interest in taking part in the workshops.

Boaters without access to the internet can contact Customer Services to complete the form for them. Participants will be randomly selected by Involve from the various interest groups in each location.


Commenting on the national review, the trust’s customer service and operations director, Ian Rogers, said: “The first stage of our national licensing consultation has been very productive and I’m pleased at how eager, honest and involved the conversations so far have been.”

“Now we’re offering every boater the opportunity to potentially take part in the workshops and help shape the wider consultation,” he continued.

“We hope boaters dig deeper into the themes introduced by the boating organisations. I’m sure they’ll be lively, enlightening discussions that help shape the final stage of consultation for our licensed customers,” added Rogers.

Meanwhile, following feedback from boaters, the Canal and River Trust is reinstating an option for boat licences to be renewed automatically.

Licences which are due to start on the 1 June 2017 will fall into this process if applicable.

Boaters will need to make sure their licence details are up-to-date and can make any amendments at the Trust’s licensing website.

The Trust will continue to send a notice of renewal each year so boaters can check their licence details are correct.

The renewal will also advise if any details are no longer valid and give boaters the option to opt out if a licence is no longer required.

The Trust will also send boaters a message if the licence was unable to be auto-renewed.