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Vessel Licensing - Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a PLA Licence?

All commercially operating vessels navigating, working or mooring within the Port of London limits are required to hold a licence issued by either the Port of London Authority (PLA) or an alternative licensing authority.  If the vessel currently does not have a valid licence, then the vessel will be required to be licensed by the PLA. Should the proposed vessel hold a licence, other than a PLA Licence, then please contact the Vessel Licensing team to ensure that it is an appropriate licence for this category of water.

Will my vessel be commercially operating?

A vessel is deemed to be commercially operating if a gain or other reward is received for services rendered.  Examples of commercial activities include private vessels used for chartering purposes, vessels hired out to events organisers, vessels engaged in filming works and vessels engaged in hydrographic or survey work.

What type of licence will I require?

The PLA licences vessels to different categories depending upon their type of operation.  Please click here for details of the licence categories and periods of inspection.

What Licence Standards Apply?

The PLA utilises nationally recognised standards for Inland Waterways vessels, which have been developed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and industry representatives.  For Passenger Boats (carrying 12 or less passengers) the PLA uses the Inland Waterway Small Passenger Boat Code. This can be viewed via this link (opens in a new window).  For non passenger carrying vessels, the applicable standard is the Thames Freight Standard which can be viewed here.

How much will it cost to licence my vessel?

Each vessel is subject to a charge for the completion of the initial inspection and for issue of the licence. Should the vessel require a remedial inspection due to deficiencies noted during the initial inspection, then an additional remedial charge will be levied.  Vessels are also required to be inspected out of the water once every 5 years (3 years for wooden vessels), which is subject to charge.  Details of these charges can be found here.  

What do I need to do to Licence my vessel?

Should you wish to licence your vessel with the PLA an Application Form may be downloaded here. Please complete this and return to the Vessel Licensing Team. (An online application form is being developed and will appear here soon).

Following receipt of the application form we will contact you to discuss further the intended operation of your vessel and arrange for an inspection to the relevant standards.  Once a successful inspection has been carried out a PLA licence will be issued for the vessel to operate on the Tidal Thames.