Do I need a boat licence?

Do I need a license to drive a boat or canal boat?

Unlike a car, you do not need a licence to drive a canal boat or any other kind of pleasure craft on the canals. If you are a novice narrowboater and it’s your first time on the canals, Black Prince will provide a British Marine accredited handover, ensuring that every guest is comfortable handling their boat before they leave the base.

Before your holiday we highly recommending watching two videos, the first being the Boaters Handbook Video, a really comprehensive guide to holidays on the UK waterways and secondly our own Introduction to a Black Prince Narrowboat video.

If you would like to increase your boat handling knowledge for a canal boat or any other kind of craft then visit the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) for more details of their training courses. The run an Inland Waterways course, a one or two day course for groups of people aged 12 upwards.

Are Canal Boats Difficult To Drive?

Our narrowboats are designed to be fairly straightforward to drive, by just having a tiller to steer and a lever for acceleration and to reverse, but they take a little practice to master. If you have had former boating experience with a tiller, you will easily pick this up, but if you are new to boating the steering is the main element that will take some getting used to. The boats have a maximum speed of 4mph, which helps keep control of the boat!

Couple on a Black Prince boat
Enjoying tea on the canal

Do I Need Any Other Licences To Drive A Boat?

Canal and River Trust Licence

When you keep a boat on water you do need to hold a licence from the waterway owner / manager.
As a canal boat holiday provider, Black Prince has a licence from the Canal & River Trust for each vessel. This is recognising that the boat has an up to date Safety Certificate and third party liability insurance. The cost of this is included in the price of your holiday.

River Licences

Rivers are owned and managed by different authorities and you may need a river licence to access certain stretches of river that form part of your cruising route. For example if you wish to cruise the River Avon between Stratford-upon-Avon and Tewkesbury there is an additional fee of £50, payable when you access the river. Any additional costs will be explained to you either when you book your holiday or on your arrival at base, when you talk through your intended route.