Let’s enjoy the river – licences explained

There’s little to beat spending time beside or on the river when it’s hot and sunny. It’s a great way to cool down and for all the family to have fun.

Rather than simply sitting on the river bank watching the boats go by, you might be tempted to head out into the water yourself this year. Good for you – and welcome to the River Nene!

We suggest the best way to tip your toe in the water, so to speak, is to hook up with one of the many companies who offer training and boat/equipment hire. From Peterborough to Yarwell, Oundle and Rushden Lakes, through to Northampton, there are experienced and enthusiastic instructors ready to guide you in the skills and ensure that you’re safe on the water and get the most out of your new hobby.

Buying your own boat? Fantastic! Before you set out on your maiden river voyage, be it a motorised craft, rowboat or canoe, do make sure that you have a licence and have proof of it with you when you’re on the river or you could be subject to a fine of up to £1,000. Your licence fee ensures that everyone can enjoy access points and ramps, and that the maintenance of the quality of water, and protection of the riverbanks, for example, is paid for.

The annual licence fee for powered boats, including sailing boats, varies according to the length of the vessel. A Boat Safety Scheme Certification and insurance details are both also be required to register your powered boat.

Licences must be obtained from the Environment Agency. Details of fees for both motor boats and unpowered boats, together with the application process, can be found here 

It’s worth noting that it is possible to buy a visitor registration or licence for shorter periods, which is useful if you are planning a holiday in the Nene Valley and will be bringing your boat with you.

If you have a stand-up paddle board, canoe, a kayak, or a rowing boat, the annual licence fee is £44.20. However, if you become a member of British Canoeing you can use the River Nene as part of their ‘On the Water’ Membership which is an annual cost of £45. This includes civil liability insurance and a number of exclusive paddler specific benefits and useful information. For more information, head to https://members.britishcanoeing.org.uk

Thinking of taking a swim in the River Nene?

You don’t need to a licence to swim in the river but you should always seek landowners’ permission. We suggest you seek out a local group to swim with. They will have selected the best locations and will help introduce you to the joys of open water swimming. Follow advice from the Royal Lifesaving Society https://www.rlss.org.uk/summer-water-safety