If you have a boat on the River Thames, you need to buy a boat registration from us and display a registration plate.
Which boats must be registered
By law, all boats on the non-tidal River Thames must be registered with the Environment Agency.
This applies to all types of powered and unpowered boats, and includes:
- boats that navigate or are moored on any part of the non-tidal River Thames (as defined by the Thames Conservancy Acts) between Cricklade Bridge and Teddington Lock – including backwaters, marinas and moorings to private land;
- boats that navigate or are moored between Teddington Lock and the Port of London Authority boundary marker (242 metres below Teddington Lock).
You must register any boat you keep afloat on part of the Thames, even if you don’t use the boat.
Annual boat registration currently runs from 1 January to 31 December.
Short period registration is available for boats brought onto the River Thames for shorter periods.
Why we charge for registration
Boat registration charges contribute towards the cost of keeping the River Thames open for boating. Without this income, we could not provide many of the facilities and services that boaters enjoy on the River Thames – such as manned locks, moorings, water points and waste disposal.
If you do not use your boat, but keep it moored on part of the River Thames, you still benefit from the work we do. We maintain essential water levels to enable boats to be moored safely.
Penalties for failing to register a boat
Our lock staff and patrol officers report any boat they find which is kept or used on the River Thames and does not display a valid registration plate.
There is a maximum fine of £1000 for failing to register a boat and comply with our registration requirements. Conviction for this offence also results in a criminal record.
Ultimately, we may also remove a boat from the waterway if it is not registered, and dispose of it.
The Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010
The law governing boat registration and related conditions for our waterways changed in April 2010 with the introduction of the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.
Our new Order allows us to introduce a more modern and consistent approach for boat registration on our inland waterways in England, by updating historic navigation legislation on the River Thames, River Medway and Anglian waterways.
Please call or email us if you have any questions about the application process, or if you have any problems filling in our boat registration forms. We’re here to help.
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