Legalease Home page
Regulated businesses

Boat hire

Local authorities throughout the UK have power to license the hire of pleasure boats. The legislation differs in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England and Wales and Northern Ireland
A licence is required for pleasure boats and pleasure vessels to be let for hire or to be used for carrying passengers for hire, and for the persons in charge of or navigating such boats and vessels (Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 s.94).

No licence is required in respect of pleasure boats and pleasure vessels on any inland waterway owned or managed by the British Waterways Board.

A local authority in England and Wales may grant a licence upon such terms and conditions as it thinks fit.

Tacit consent: it appears that the authorities consider that tacit consent does not apply.

There is a right of appeal to the magistrates court arising from the withholding, suspension, or revocation of any licence.

Criminal enforcement: a contravention of this law is punishable by a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale. There is a defence to the offence of failure to comply with conditions attached to a personal licence if it is shown that there is a reasonable excuse for the failure.

Similar legislation applies in Northern Ireland.

For further information, visit the Business Link website and search for "boat hire” and/or check with the relevant local authority.

Under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 s.38, a boat hire licence is required for the use of a vessel, in the course of a trade or business carried on in or from any place within the area of a licensing authority, for the purpose of letting it on hire or carrying for reward 12 or fewer passengers, for pleasure, recreational, educational or sporting purposes.
For further information, visit the Scottish Business Gateway website and search for "boat hire”.

Back to Regulated businesses list>