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Pleasure boat licence

A licence is required if you wish to hire out your pleasure boat, or use it for carrying up to 12 passengers for hire.

Licences are granted for a period of one year.

The person in charge of the pleasure boat will also require a boatman licence.

Both licences must be issued by the same council. The council you apply to for a licence will depend on the area of operation of the pleasure boat.

On this page:

Areas of operation and water categories

Inland waters are categorised as one of four categories. These are referred to as Category A, B, C and D.

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more about the categorisation of waterways.

We can only issue licences to pleasure boats operating in the categories of water in the areas listed below.

  • Southampton (Category C), within a line from Calshot Castle to Hook Beacon
  • Beaulieu River (Category C), within Beaulieu river not eastward of a North/South line through Inchmery House
  • Keyhaven Lake (Category C), within a line drawn due north from Hurst Point Low Light to Keyhaven Marshes
  • The Solent (Category D), inside the IOW within an area bounded by lines drawn between the church spire, West Wittering, to Trinity Church, Bembridge, to the eastward and the Needles and Hurst Point to the westward

For more information, refer to the guidance notes below.

Apply for a pleasure boat licence

Before applying, read all the information provided in the guidance notes, which you can download below.

Pleasure Boat Licence Guidance Notes (PDF) [91KB] (opens new window)

The application is a four-step process:

1. Choose an assessor from our approved list, which you can download below.

Boatman and Pleasure Boat Licences Approved Assessors and Surveyors (PDF) [89KB] (opens new window)

Contact the assessor, and agree the details of the survey and fee.

2. Apply for a pleasure boat licence using the online form below.

Alternatively, you can download an application form below.

Pleasure Boat Licence Application Form (PDF) [183KB] (opens new window)

You can then apply by sending us:

  • your completed application form
  • a copy of your insurance certificate
  • the fee

3. Attend the survey with any documents requested by the assessor. The assessor will pass or fail the pleasure boat and send the findings to us.

4. We will match your application with the assessor's survey and issue the licence. In the case of a failure we will return the application to you, minus the fee.


The fee to licence a pleasure boat (including plate) is £100.

This fee does not include any survey charges, which should be agreed with your assessor prior to an appointment.

Renew a licence

We will send you a renewal pack before your licence expires. If you have not received this within six weeks of your expiry date, contact us.

The following type and frequency of survey are required. This is based on a five-year cycle.

  • first renewal: self certification survey
  • second renewal: self certification survey
  • third renewal: mid-term survey carried out by an assessor approved by us
  • fourth renewal: self certification survey
  • fifth renewal: full survey carried out by an assessor approved by us

Your assessor will advise you at the point of booking if the survey needs to be in or out of water. Assessments are usually valid for up to 3 months.

Contact details

You can contact us if you have any questions about pleasure boat licences.


Phone: 023 8028 5505

Licensing Services
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

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