Unpowered Craft Licences

The use of canoes and other unpowered craft on the majority of inland waterways requires a licence, which can be obtained from the relevant authority.  If you belong to British Canoeing (through either Canoe England, Canoe Wales or Scottish Canoe Association) the necessary licence for some (but not all) navigation authorities is included with the membership. 

Details for licensing your unpowered craft can be obtained from the following websites:

Canal & River Trust manages almost all the canals, and rivers such as the Severn, Trent and Yorkshire Ouse. 

The Environment Agency manages the River Thames, the River Medway, and the rivers of East Anglia.

The Broads Authority manages the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.

For the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in Essex, see here.

The Waterways Code

Canal & River Trust provides the following advice for people using canoes and other unpowered craft on inland waterways:

Consider others

When passing anglers, unless they politely request otherwise, follow a straight course and keep to the centre of the channel, in single file.

Don’t perform speed events without permission from the local waterway office.

Take care

Make sure your craft is suitable for the waterway you are using and that you are competent to use it.

Larger craft need deeper water and room to manoeuvre so move to the side of the channel where the helmsman can see you.

Contact the local waterway office or visit CRT's website to check its safety regulations.

Unpowered craft are not permitted through many tunnels or on parts of some larger river navigations.

If you are permitted to use a tunnel, carry a light and whistle to warn other craft of your presence. Travel through in groups of at least three.

Wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid while afloat.

Locks, weirs and sluices are dangerous. Don’t stay aboard your craft in a filling or emptying lock - carry it around, or if it is too heavy, use lines to keep control.


Unpowered Craft


See also:

IWA's briefing note on Small Boats and Canoes on the Waterways (358KB, A4, 4 pages)