Do you need a licence to drive a narrowboat?

No, you do not need a licence to drive a narrowboat on the canals in England and Wales. However, you do need to have a boat licence, which is issued by the Canal & River Trust. The boat licence is required for all boats, regardless of whether they have a motor or not. It costs £50 per year for a standard licence and £100 per year for a gold licence.

The boat licence covers the following:

  • The right to use the canals and rivers in England and Wales
  • The right to moor your boat on the canals and rivers
  • Liability insurance
  • Financial assistance if your boat is damaged or lost

If you are planning to hire a narrowboat, the hire company will usually provide you with a boat licence as part of the hire agreement. However, if you are buying your own narrowboat, you will need to apply for a boat licence yourself.

You can apply for a boat licence online at the Canal & River Trust website. You will need to provide your name, address, date of birth, and boat registration number. You will also need to pay the relevant fee.

Once you have a boat licence, you are legally allowed to drive a narrowboat on the canals in England and Wales. However, it is important to remember that you still need to be careful and considerate when driving your boat. You should always obey the rules of the waterway and be aware of other boaters.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when driving a narrowboat:

  • The speed limit on canals is 4 mph.
  • You must give way to sailing boats and other unpowered craft.
  • You must be careful when passing through locks.
  • You must always use your horn when approaching other boats.

By following these simple rules, you can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience for everyone.


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