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The Environment Agency is changing the way it regulates boat registration for its waterways across the country.


From January 2011 it will start using new powers to harmonise registration requirements for keeping and using boats on the non-tidal River Thames, the non-tidal River Medway and also its Anglian waterways. Some of these requirements already exist on certain waterways, but for others they are brand new.


The major change across all Environment Agency waterways is owners of powered boats (boats with an engine) will be required to hold a valid ‘third party’ insurance policy. This has been a requirement for some time on most other UK inland waterways. 


Boat owners will also need to register their boats and pay the annual charge simply to keep them on the waterways, even if they don’t use them. Owners of most powered boats will have to show they comply with essential safety standards by obtaining a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate (BSSC) in order to register.


These changes will mean new requirements for many boat owners, but they will start to introduce a simpler and more consistent approach to boat registration that customers will welcome, whilst also making the waterways safer.


Roger Goulding, from the Environment Agency, said: “Our waterways are some of the finest places in the country to visit, and these new changes will make them safer for everyone who uses them. 


“Boat owners have previously had to comply with different registration systems depending on where they keep or use their boat. Our new powers mean we can bring in a new, clear and consistent approach which makes the system fairer and easier to understand for everyone.


“We have listened to our customers throughout the process and they have told us this is what they want.”


Main changes for the non-tidal River Thames – from 1 January 2011


All owners who keep their boat on the River Thames must register their boat and pay the annual charge, even if they don’t use it. This extends to every part of the waterway including backwaters and marinas. There will be an introductory period from 1 January 2011 until 1 April 2011 to allow owners either to register or remove their boat from the waterway before enforcement action. All powered boat owners also need to hold a valid third party insurance policy.


Main changes for Anglian waterways – from 1 April 2011


All powered boat owners need to hold a valid third party insurance policy.       


Main changes for the non-tidal River Medway – from 1 April 2011


All powered boat owners need to hold a valid third party insurance policy.          

Most powered boat owners will need to obtain a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate from 1 April 2012.


All boat registration income collected by the Environment Agency is spent on managing and maintaining our waterways for their users.  It helps keep structures, such as locks and laybys, in safe working order; helps us provide staff to assist our customers; and helps provide good quality facilities such as moorings, waste disposal and water points.                       


To find out more about these changes, please see our pages on the Environment Agency website:

New powers are provided by the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010, which came into force on 6 April 2010.    


Environment Agency Anglian Waterways are Lincolnshire (River Ancholme, Black Sluice, River Glen   and River Welland), the River Nene and Great Ouse waterways (Bedford Ouse, Old West, River Cam, Reach Lode, Wicken Lode, River Lark, Little Ouse, River Wissey, Hundred Foot (New Bedford River), Old Bedford River, Forty Foot, Relief Channel, Tidal River and Ely Ouse



River Thames

Anglian Waterways

River Medway

All boats kept on the water must be registered




Third Party Insurance for powered boats




Boat Safety Scheme Certificate required













NABO are seeking reaction from its members at the time of this press release!