Pleasure boats and boatmen licensing

Section 94 of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 empowers the city council to “grant upon such terms and conditions as they may think fit licences for pleasure boats and pleasure vessels to be let for hire or to be used for carrying passengers for hire, and persons in charge of or navigating such boats and vessels”.

The only exception to this requirement is for boats or vessels licensed under any regulations of the Board of Trade or a person in charge of or navigating such a boat or vessel.

Any vessel which is available for hire carrying no more than 12 passengers within category C or D waters must be licensed by the local authority within whose area the vessel is based. Likewise, persons acting a boatmen on such vessels must be licensed as such.

  • Category C waters include those in Southampton Water north of Calshot.
  • Category D waters include those in the Solent, between (in the west) a line from Hurst Point and the Needles and (in the east) a line from West Wittering church and Bembridge church.

The registration of all other vessels is dealt with by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency - contact them via their website or at Spring Place 105 Commercial Rd, Southampton, SO15 1EG - call 023 8032 9100.

Apply for a licence

Further details and forms are available on the boats and boatmen pages.

Information on individual pleasure boat and boatmen's licences appear in Public Access 

or in the extract from the boatman's licence register.

Associated British Ports' Southampton Harbour Master acts as the city council's agent in assessing the fitness of boats and the suitability of boatmen.