By August 28, 2020 September 7th, 2020 No Comments

The question ‘do you need a license for a kayak’ can be confusing if you are new to kayaking. The short answer is yes, you do need a license to kayak on Canal, River Trust and Environment Agency waterways in the UK. A license is fairly easy to obtain online and works out as a worthwhile investment if you are frequently using the waterways. You will receive a digital copy of your license which can be accessed on your smartphone should you need to display it.

Do you need a license for a kayak


British Canoeing Membership 

  • The licence cost is £45 for the year.
  • Covers around 5,000km of waterways.
  • Only suitable for paddlers who live in England.
  • Brings you money saving offers and discounts.
Click to buy

Canoe Wales Membership

  • The licence cost is £45 for the year.
  • Waterways licence
  • Discounts at selected retailers.
  • Third party insurance and legal expenses cover.
Click to buy
Do you need a license for a kayak


Why do I need a license to kayak? 

The money generated through licensing fees helps to maintain and improve the waterways. For example flood damage repairs, maintaining put ins and take outs, and removing debris from the waterway. 

Can I get a day pass for my kayak?

Canal River Trust offer a ‘pass’ for a week to 30 days. This is a fantastic option if you are only using your kayak for serval days/weeks of the year. 

Click to buy

Do I need to carry the paperwork with me? 

It is unlikely that you will be asked to show proof of your license, however, if you are asked to produce your license you will need to have this on you to avoid a fine. The British Canoeing Membership includes a digital copy which you will be able to display on your phone. 

Where will I be asked to show my license? 

If you are kayaking on a waterway with manned locks, for example The River Thames, you could be asked to show your license to enter the lock. 

Which rivers and canals do you need a license for? 

You need a licence to kayak on Canal, River Trust and Environment Agency waterways, it is best to check whether you will need a license for a particular destination before setting off. You can find a full list of  the waterways included with the British Canoeing’s licensing arrangements here.

Which rivers and canals do you not need a license for?

Waterways where licenses are not required include parts of The River Wye, River Lugg, River Severn and the River Rother. You do not need a license to explore the coastline by kayak, it is recommended that you are confident in the water before embarking on a sea kayaking trip. 

Do I need a license for an inflatable kayak?

Yes, you still need a license for inflatable kayaks to paddle on Canal, River Trust and Environment Agency waterways.

If you have any license related questions please leave a comment below. 

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