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You are here:home > Business > Licensing > Pleasure boats and boatmen > Pleasure boats

Pleasure boats

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”.

What is the effect of this?

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 are those in Southampton Water north of Calshot and category D waters are those in the Solent within lines between Hurst Point to the Needles in the west and between West Wittering church to Bembridge church in the east.


Pleasure boat licences are granted subject to the following: -

  • A full survey on initial licensing and every third and fifth year thereafter by a competent surveyor approved by the city council. Guidance for the requirements may be found in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's “Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code”.

  • Self-certification in the second and fourth years, similar to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Motor/Sailing Vessels” shall be deemed sufficient; a form of declaration to be signed by the owner which has a penal repercussion if found to be untrue. Qualified persons appointed on behalf of the city council may make random inspections.

  • Requirements for equipment to be carried are as laid down in the appropriate sections of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's ”Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code” which is designed to provide a national benchmark for safety standards.

  • Licences are for a one-year period.

Please note that, where necessary, inspections of boats will be undertaken by the city council's appointed agent, Associated British Ports' Harbour Master


The only exception to the licensing requirements are for vessels licensed under any regulations of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or a person in charge of or navigating such a boat or vessel.

Application Forms and Further Information

Application forms, further information and details of fees appear below.

Opening hours

Members of the licensing team will normally be available at Southbrook Rise, 4-8 Millbrook Road East, Southampton SO15 1YG, to assist personal callers on weekdays between 09:00 and 12:00 and between 14:00 and 16:00. We may be available at other times by prior appointment.

Please note that the addresses and numbers given below should only be used for communication with the licensing team.

Data Protection

Please note that the licensing authority may be required by law to disclose to the appropriate authorities, from time to time, further information relating to applications and licences for the purposes of law enforcement and the prevention of fraud.

Contacting the Licensing Team

If you need to contact us by email, 'phone or post, please do so using the details below.

Opening hourslink to interactive parking map

Members of the Licensing Team are normally available on weekdays at the Civic Centre, Southampton SO14 7LY from 09:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 16:00 to assist personal callers. We may be available at other times by prior appointment.

Downloadable documents

Icon Name of file Size Download time
Word document Boat application - Word 91 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Boat application - pdf 45 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Link to download Adobe Acrobat if required

Related links

Contact information