Boat licence fees revealed for 2020-21

01 Nov 19

The Canal and River Trust has announced that headline private and business boat licence fees will rise by 2.5% from 1 April 2020.

As previously announced, in March 2018, following the Trust’s national boat licence consultation, a number of changes will be made to licence fees over five years. 

From 1 April 2020, a 2.5% ‘prompt payment’ discount (reduced from 5%) will apply for those who pay on time and in full, and a new 2.5% discount will apply for those who manage their payments online including, for the first time, for boaters paying by direct debit. This means that boaters who may not be able to afford to pay in one lump sum will also be able to benefit from a small discount on the full licence fee.

Phased introduction

In addition to the current length-based pricing, from April 2020 the Trust will start the phased introduction of additional pricing bands for boat widths over 2.16m (7ft 1”), as announced in March 2018, with a surcharge of 5% applied until March 2021 (when it will increase to 10%). This means that boats over 2.16m wide will be subject to an increase in licence fees of 7.6% overall from 1 April 2020.

Jon Horsfall, Head of Customer Service Support at The Canal and River Trust, said: “Income from private boat licences accounted for around 10% of our annual income last year, and helps ensure that we can carry out the vast amount of work needed to keep the waterways available to boaters.

“We know that not every boater is in a position to pay their licence in a single payment so we’re pleased to be able to extend a portion of the previous ‘prompt payment’ discount to those paying by direct debit, as well as all those managing their payments online. We’d encourage boaters to sign up to online licensing to benefit from the 2.5% discount.

“The changes we’re making to boat licensing are intended to ensure the financial contribution made by boaters towards the cost of looking after the waterways is spread fairly across the boating community. We are staggering the changes for wider vessels that we announced last year over a five-year period from 1 April 2020 so there’s no sudden impact on any boaters.”

Start your adventure

Canal and riverboat cruising is a very affordable way to get out on the water – and you don’t need to own your own boat, as there are plenty of boats to hire with something to suit every occasion and budget. With over 3,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers to explore in Britain, cruising with friends and family is one of the most relaxing ways you can spend time on the water. To start your adventure on our inland waterways, visit the RYA Canal and River Boat Cruising hub.

More information on boat licences is also available here: