Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Boat moorings

There are about 3,000 miles of inland waterways in England and Wales, which includes a wide range of moorings. If you're thinking about living on a boat, make sure you understand all the practicalities involved.

What issues do you need to consider before deciding to live on a boat?

Living on a boat won't always be the ideal world you expect. Although generally less expensive than living in a house, there are many costs and pitfalls that you might not have considered. You will need to think about:

  • buying the right boat
  • finding somewhere to moor it
  • getting a licence, Boat Safety Certificate and insurance
  • boat maintenance and repairs
  • utilities and heating costs

Advice for buying the right boat

You can consider the following things when you are looking at buying a boat:

  • boats are advertised by specialist brokers and by private individuals through the pages of several monthly magazines and websites
  • always get a boat professionally surveyed.  Boats do not appreciate in value like bricks and mortar do
  • the average value of a canal boat is around £25,000.  A top of the range new boat can cost well into six figures

Finding a mooring

This will be your most difficult task. Residential moorings require planning consent and there are waiting lists for almost all sites.

If you don't want to stay put, you may be able to get by without a home mooring. On the waterways, which are managed by a variety of navigation authorities like the Environment Agency and British Waterways, there are strict rules for 'continuous cruisers'. You must genuinely travel around the network, not just cruise back and forth in the same area.

The use and mooring of houseboats

A mooring within a marina with easy access to water, sewage and refuse disposal is what most people prefer. Such moorings for residential boats generally cost at least £90 per metre per year.

Cheaper and simpler moorings with fewer facilities are offered along the line of the waterway. There is no formal security, and you will generally not be able to get access by road to your boat.

All mooring agreements generally last for 12 months.

The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local authority website where you can find out more.

Getting a licence, Boat Safety Certificate and insurance

If you own a boat you are required to apply for a licence, a Boat Safety Certificate and insurance:

  • the licence is issued by the navigation authority - most waterways are the responsibility of British Waterways or the Environment Agency and each authority runs a separate licensing system
  • the safety certificate is like an MOT and lasts four years
  • for British Waterways, your boat must have insurance covering damage that the boat might do to third parties

Boat maintenance and repairs

There are boatyards around the waterways that will carry out work for you. You should budget to lift the boat out of the water once every three years to check and maintain its hull.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Access keys