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Licensing & permits

Our Licensing team is responsible for ensuring that all developments in and above the river and inland waterways vessels operating commercially on the tidal Thames are appropriately licensed in accordance with the relevant sections of the Port of London Act 1968 (as amended).

The team is also responsible for answering and consenting a range of non-statutory enquires and functions.

If you are in any doubt as to what type of licence you need, email the Licensing team for guidance.

Frequently asked

Email any enquiries to [email protected]. The Licensing team will aim to respond to your enquiry within five business days.

How do I apply for a licence?

Applications must be submitted electronically using the link below:


What do I need to include with my application?

The information required to support your application will vary depending on the type of application. The application specific requirements can be found by clicking on the relevant link on this page.

How much does an application cost?

A fee to process all types of applications is payable. The fees are set out in the current PLA Charges booklet.

There is also a consideration and surveyor fee payable for all river works licences which is dealt with by the Estates team. NB: The Estates department should only be contacted once you have received written confirmation that the scheme has been approved by the licensing committee.

What happens after I make my application?

A case officer will be allocated who will check that your application includes all the information that we need to process it. We will contact you to advise you if your application has been accepted as valid or, if further information is required in order to validate your application.

Please note that the case officer will be unable to process your application until a valid application has been made.

Consultation will be undertaken internally and externally where required with further information / clarification being sought as required from the applicant.

In some cases, the applicant will be required to display a site notice close to the application site.

In most cases a decision will be made on an application by the Director or Deputy Director of Planning and Development. For cases that are more complex in nature and warrant scrutiny by the licensing committee, the application will be presented to and a decision made by the licensing committee.

How long will it take to process my application?

The PLA aims to process applications within three months of receiving a valid application. The only exceptions to this are temporary applications and letters of consent which the PLA aims to process within one month. The PLA will aim to process vessel licences within 10 days.

An application will only be valid upon receipt of all of the required documentation.

What if I do not like the decision that has been made?

If your application is refused an appeal can be made to the Department for Transport. Similar rights of appeal apply against the revocation of licences or variations of such licences by the PLA. Contact the Licensing team for more details.

There is no third party right of appeal against the grant of a licence.

What other consents may be required?

In addition to a licence from the PLA, consents from other statutory bodies may be required. These consents may include:

  • Environment Agency (EA) consent
  • Planning Permission from the relevant local authority
  • A marine licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
  • Where the foreshore is not owned by the PLA, consent may be required from the Crown Estate
Do I need a licence to undertake repair/refurbishment works?

The wording of PLA licences have changed over the years to reflect modern best practice. Please check the rights granted in your licence. If you licence expressly permits the maintenance of works then a licence will not be required for refurbishment/repair works provided they are like for like and remain within the footprint of the Works.

If it is not possible to repair / refurbish your works within the footprint of the existing works and for example scaffolding is required, then a temporary consent will be required from the PLA.

Where can I find information about scaled drawings?

Detailed guidance on scaled drawings to be submitted as part of a licence application can be found on this page.

Should I include riparian life saving equipment?

The PLA strongly recommends that riparian life saving equipment -- such as grab chains -- is provided at all sites. Further guidance can be found on our water safety page.

Where can I get further information?

If you have a general enquiry about Licensing please contact:

Email: [email protected]

Essential information

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