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Licensing

If you want to canoe on many of our rivers and canals you will need a licence to do so. British Canoeing has teamed up with navigation authorities who manage the waterways to offer British Canoeing members a great rate for a waterway licence in England. Included with your British Canoeing membership is a licence to paddle over 4,500km of rivers and canals.

Expand British Canoeing Members & Affiliated Clubs

British Canoeing Members & Affiliated Clubs

As a British Canoeing member, you are given a membership card which also serves as your waterways licence. Carry your British Canoeing membership card with you at all times, as you may be asked to show this to authorised navigation officials. 

Clubs using the waterways listed below require a licence for each club boat. British Canoeing affiliated clubs can be provided with additional licences by British Canoeing at a considerable cost saving to buying licences direct from the navigation authorities Current details are included on the Club Affiliation form.

You can see the list of included waterways in the list below.

Canal and River Trust

  • Aire & Calder Navigation
  • Leeds & Liverpool Canal to junction with Selby Canal
  • Knottingley & Goole Canal (Wakefield Section)
  • Ashby Canal (Marston Jn to Snarestone)
  • Ashton Canal
  • Birmingham Canal (Old Main Line - Engine Branch, Gower Branch & Spon Lane Locks Branch (Spon Lane Junction to Broadfield Junction)
  • Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (Old Turn Junction to Fazeley Junction)
  • Bristol Avon (between Hanham Lock and Thimble Mill Weir in Bath)
  • Digbeth Branch Canal
  • Brecon & Abergavenny Canal 
  • Bridgwater & Taunton Canal 
  • Calder & Hebble Navigation 
  • Caldon Canal
  • Cannock Extension Canal (Pelsall Junction to Watling Street Bridge)
  • Chesterfield Canal (Trent to Worksop, Worksop to Norwood Tunnel, Staveley to Chesterfield)
  • Coventry Canal (excluding Birmingham & Fazeley section)
  • Fazeley Junction to Whittington Brook)
  • Cromford Canal
  • Droitwich Barge Canal
  • Droitwich Junction Canal 
  • Dudley Canal (Black Delph to Tipton Junction, (incl Dudley Tunnel by permission only) Parkhead Junction to Coombeswood Basin & Bumblehole Branch)
  • Erewash Canal
  • Fossdyke Navigation
  • Gloucester & Sharpness Canal 
  • Grand Union Canal including; Brentford to Braunston, Napton to Birmingham 
  • Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal
  • Regent's Canal 
  • Hertford Union Canal
  • Leicester Navigation 
  • River Soar (Trent Lock to Junc with Leicester Line of GU) 
  • Grantham Canal (Under Restoration)
  • Huddersfield Broad Canal 
  • Huddersfield Narrow Canal 
  • Kennet and Avon Canal 
  • Lancaster Canal (Preston to Tewitfield, Tewitfield to Kendal Proposed Restoration, Glasson Dock Branch)
  • River Lee (Limehouse Basin to Hertford)
  • Bow Back Rivers
  • Leeds and Liverpool Canal 
  • Llangollen Canal 
  • Macclesfield Canal
  • New Junction Canal
  • Nottingham Canal - Lenton to Meadow Lane 
  • River Ouse (Yorkshire) - (Linton to Goole)
  • Oxford Canal including old loops (used) 
  • Peak Forest Canal (Dukinfield to Marple Junction, Marple Junction to Bugsworth Basin & Whaley Bridge Branch).
  • Pocklington Canal (Cottingwith to Melbourne, Melbourne to Canal Head (Under Restoration)
  • Ripon Canal 
  • Rochdale Canal 
  • Rushall Canal 
  • Selby Canal 
  • River Severn  - (Stourport to Gloucester)
  • Sheffield and Tinsley Canal 
  • Sheffield & Yorkshire Canal (Inc. sections of River Don Navigation)
  • Shropshire Union Canal 
  • Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal 
  • Stainforth and Keadby Canal
  • River Stort 
  • Stourbridge Canal 
  • Stratford-upon-Avon Canal - Kings Norton to Stratford Restored
  • Tame Valley Canal
  • River Tees – (Low Worsall - Tees Barrage)
  • Titford Canal
  • Trent & Mersey Canal 
  • River Trent - Gainsborough to Wilden Ferry 
  • River Ure (Ripon - Linton) 
  • Walsall Canal - including Lower Ocker Hill Branch
  • Walsall Junction Canal - Birchills Junction to Walsall Junction
  • Weaver Navigation - including Weston Canal
  • Wednesbury Oak Loop Line - Deepfields Junction to Bradley Workshop
  • Wednesbury Old Canal (Pudding Green Junction to Ryders Green Junction to Spine Road)
  • River Witham - (Lincoln to Boston)
  • Worcester and Birmingham Canal 
  • Wyrley & Essington Canal (Horseley Fields Junction to Ogley Junction, Anglesey Branch, Daw End Branch)

Broads Authority Waterways

  • Norfolk and Suffolk Broads
  • River Ant
  • River Bure
  • River Chet
  • Haddiscoe Cut
  • Horsey Mere / Hickling Broad
  • Oulton Dyke and Broad
  • Stalham Dyke
  • River Thurne
  • River Waveney - River Yare to Geldeston Lock
  • River Wensum
  • River Yare - Breydon Water to the River Wensum

Environment Agency

  • River Ancholme - Humber to Bishopbridge including the Brigg Loop
  • Burwell Lode
  • River Cam (below Bottisham Lock/nr Clayhithe)
  • Forty Foot River - Sixteen Foot River to Counter Wash Drain
  • River Glen (Tongue End to confluence with R. Wellend)
  • River Great Ouse (below Kempston and the flood relief channel between the head sluice lock at Denver and the Tail sluice at Saddlebrow)
  • River Kennet (Reading Section)
  • River Lark - River Ouse to Judes Ferry
  • River Little Ouse (below Brandon Staunch)
  • River Medway – below Tonbridge
  • River Nene – below Northampton
  • New Bedford River
  • Old Bedford River
  • Reach Lode
  • Wicken Lode
  • River Stour (Suffolk) – below Brundon Mill, Sudbury;
  • River Thames – Cricklade Bridge to Teddington (including the Jubilee River and Maidenhead Waterway);
  • River Welland - Fossdyke Bridge to Folly River
  • River Wissey

National Trust

Wey & Godalming Navigation 

River Wey  

Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust

Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal 

Wey & Arun Canal Trust

Wey & Arun Canal 

Cam Conservators

Cambridge to Bottisham Lock 

Basingstoke Canal Authority

Basingstoke Canal - River Wey to Greywell Tunnel 

Manchester Ship Canal Company

Bridgewater Canal 

Castlefield to Runcorn

Leigh Branch 

Avon Navigation Trust

River Avon (Warwickshire) Alveston to Tewkesbury 

Cotswold Canal Trust

Stroudwater Navigation

Folkestone & Hythe District Council

The Royal Military Canal, between Seabrook Outfall and West Hythe Dam is controlled by Folkestone and Hythe District Coiuncil. You require both a permit and public liability insurance to use this section. As a British Canoeing member your membership covers you for Public Liability BUT you still must apply for a separate permit from the council.  

The rest of the Canal from West Hythe Dam to the East Rother is controlled by the EA and no license is required.

Rivers and Canal Navigations where a licence is NOT required

There are a number of non-tidal rivers where navigation rights are recognised and where boats are not a required to be licensed. Known examples are the River Wye below Hay-on-Wye, River Lugg from Leominster, River Severn between Pool Quay near Welshpool and Stourport, and River Rother (East Sussex) downstream from Bodiam.


For further information, you can contact:

Expand Waterways not included under British Canoeing Membership

Waterways not included under British Canoeing Membership

The following waterways require a license, permit or payment of fees and are NOT included as part of British Canoeing Membership. 

(If you are able to add to or update our information, then please contact us on [email protected])

Royal Military Canal: Folkestone & Hythe District Council

The Royal Military Canal, between Seabrook Outfall and West Hythe Dam is controlled by Folkestone and Hythe District Council. You require both a permit and public liability insurance to use this section. As a British Canoeing member your membership covers you for Public Liability BUT you still must apply for a separate permit from the council. Further information can be found here

(Note: The rest of the Canal from West Hythe Dam to the East Rother is controlled by the EA and no license is required).

Grand Western Canal: Devon County Council

The Grand Western Canal Country Park and Local Nature Reserve meanders for 11¼ miles through beautiful countryside and quiet villages between the market town of Tiverton and the hamlet of Lowdwells (near the Somerset border).

More information can be found here.

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Essex Waterways

The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation runs through a largely unspoilt part of rural Essex and connects the county town of Chelmsford with the tidal estuary of the River Blackwater at Heybridge Basin.

A link to the permit page can be found here and further visitor information here.

Bristol Avon: Bristol City Council

Downstream of Hanham lock to the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth, the Bristol Avon is controlled by Bristol Harbour Master's Office. Details of charges can be found here.