The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Boatmaster Licence

Boatmasters Licence Application

This section explains the process of boatmaster licence application and license renewal. Check how to apply for a boatmasters' licence, replace it, renew it, or upgrade one.

MCA BOATMASTER UK: A boat master must have a valid licence to run certain types of vessels.

The boatmasters' licence gives authorisation to operate a passenger-carrying or non-passenger carrying commercial vessel.

The boat master will need a boatmasters' licence for most types of sailing vessels that run on:

The term 'limited' means no more than 5 miles from land and 15 miles from where the vessel sets off or arrives.

But, authorisation is not required for all sailing crafts and vessels. You can operate a pleasure vessel or a fishing vessel without a boatmaster licence. That also includes hire boats which get used as pleasure vessels.

The MMCA produces further guidance on which types of vessels that can operate on inland waters in the United Kingdom. It also has references to EU requirements and regulations.

Note: Boatmaster definition refers to the person who is in command of an inland waterways vessel. Failing to have the correct boatmaster licence can result in a fine and a prosecution.

Boatmasters Licence 'Alternative Certificate'

Certain certificates can get used as an alternative to a boatmasters' licence. Seafarers can use STCW certificate of competency (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping).

Certificates awarded by the Royal Yachting Association also qualify. Even so, using an alternative certificate means you must:

Application for Boatmasters Licence

You can get further details from the boatmasters' qualifications and hours of work notice before you apply, such as:

Before applying for a boatmasters certificate you should also:

A new entrant will need to:

  1. Read the boatmasters' qualifications and hours of work notice (see above).
  2. Download the 'Application for a BML licence - new entrants (MSF 4364)'.
  3. Check the 'Boatmasters' table of fees' and pay the correct amount.

Replace or Renew a Boatmasters Licence

The current cost of a replacement licence is £18. You will need to use the form 'Application for a replacement of a Boatmasters' Licence (MSF 4390)'.

As a rule, a boatmasters' licence lasts 5 years and costs £28 to renew it. Use the form titled 'Revalidation of a boatmasters' licence (MSF 4365)'. Return it to the address written on the form.

Boatmasters Licence Cost to Upgrade

The fee for upgrading a licence varies. Use form MSF 4370 'Apply for a Boatmasters' Licence upgrade' to upgrade it or add another area to it.

Exemptions: 2006 Boatmasters' Regulations

You must apply for a 'Tier 2 Level 2' licence to keep working if your exemption is about to expire. It covers all areas described on the exemption certificate. To continue working with an exemption certificate you must:

Note: Failing to have the correct boatmaster licence when your exemption expires can result in a fine and a prosecution.

Inland Waterways Categories

The category of 'inland waters' can include any body of water not categorised as 'sea'. Examples include canals, lakes, tidal and non-tidal rivers, and some estuarial waters. An estuary is an arm of sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.

The 4 different categories of inland waters get classified as one of the following:

Boatmaster Licence Application and Renewal for the United Kingdom