Guide to hiring your narrowboat

Guide To Hiring Out Your Narrowboat

Hiring out your narrowboat may sound like a great way of earning some extra income. But before you start, there are some steps you need to take.

The Canal & River trust has a fair trading policy which aims to encourage commercial enterprise on our waterways. Providing you follow the rules there should be no problems!

To start with you will need to obtain a ‘Leisure Business Licence’. The terms of this particular licence are more difficult to achieve than those of a private boat as it needs to reflect greater on public safety risks that come along with hiring out boats to inexperienced crews.

Narrow boat cruising down the waterways

Boat Safety Certification

Next, you will need to obtain a boat safety certificate from the ‘Boat Safety Scheme‘ (BSS). This is a public safety requirement owned by both the Canal & River Trust and the Environmental Agency.

Its purpose is to assist with minimising the risk of things such as boat fires, explosions, pollution and harm to inland waterway users and workforce.

They will carry out checks on things such as gas systems to make sure they are fitted in compliance with the ‘Gas Safety Installation Use and Regulations’ etc.

You can learn more about this certificate on their website:

Provision for servicing the boat

Bow of narrowboat hired out by owner

There are certain facilities that must be made available to service the boat such as;

  • A place to park
  • Systems for the disposal of sewage from the boat
  • drinking water supply
  • Covered refuse bins
  • A mooring berth which allows for safe entry and exit from the boat
  • Canal River Trust leisure business licence

Provisions for handing over to boat hirers

Every time you allow someone to use your boat you must make sure that they are capable of using it safely. To make sure of this you need to provide coaching in;

  • Safe methods of navigation including use of the locks
  • How to safely operate and care for the boat and its equipment
  • Provide a boaters handbook – published by the association of inland navigation authorities
  • Provide relevant literature about the local waterway
  • Emergency contact details
  • Show the users the buoyancy aids and life jackets

We recommend you maintain a log of all breakdown or emergency calls. In the event of a serious accident, you will be scrutinised by the Health and Safety Executive.


Insurance policy being signed

Your boat insurance must include public liability insurance. When you apply for a leisure business licence, you are confirming that you are meeting all of the aforementioned requirements.

The Canal & River Trust may carry out an inspection and will make you aware of any issues. These must be corrected. If you do not put these right, you may have your licence terminated.

We urge you to do further research into other legal requirements that apply to commercial trading such as; HSE, Fire Regulations, VAT etc.

We highly recommend that you join the ‘Association of Pleasure Craft Operators’. This is the professional trading body that supports and advises members on the best practice.

If you hire your boat out without a business licence, you risk enforcement action that could result in your boat being removed from the waterways.

Handy websites

Hired out Narrowboat cruising alongside moored narrow boats

We hope you found this post on hiring out your narrowboat helpful. If hiring your boat is something you are seriously considering, here are a few websites we recommend taking a look at for more information;

As always, if you have any tips or advice, please feel free to leave a comment below.

We love hearing from you! If you share your project on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest please feel free to tag us @owatrolUK or use #owatrolUK so we can see and share your hard work!

Guide to hiring out your narrowboat - Pinterest

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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