BW consults on changes to Boat Business Licences


In response to feedback from the boating trade, British Waterways (BW) is currently consulting on a number of changes to the way business boats are licensed.


In future, it is proposed that all business boats use a standard pleasure boat licence (instead of a Business Licence) and that the additional costs and regulatory compliance for boating businesses will be covered by a new Operator Agreement.


While the changes will neither increase or decrease revenue to BW, they will allow much better tailoring of pricing to reflect the wide diversity of self-drive, passenger and other floating businesses across the waterways.  Importantly, the new Operator Agreement will typically run for five years (or longer) giving boating businesses a much longer horizon (compared to the existing 12-month Business Licence) on which to plan and secure financial backing.


Jenny Whitehall, BW’s boating trade manager, comments: “A series of meetings and discussions with many boating trade business representatives have informed the development of the proposed changes.  We are particularly grateful to the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators and the Commercial Boat Operators Association for the time they have given to helping us.


“Our aims were to develop a system which would be fairer for customers, increase BW’s focus on the needs of operators and create a process that is more logical for new investors to understand.  In addition the changes will be cheaper to administer saving much needed resources for waterways maintenance.”


Although primarily of interest to people operating boats for any type of trading activity on BW’s network (it doesn’t relate to boaters using their craft for personal private use), the consultation is open to all until the end of January 2011.  The aim is to complete analysis of the feedback and publish the results by the end of February 2011.  The consultation is published at