How to Register a Boat in the UK

You may register a boat for use at sea on the UK Ship Register.  Dependent on your needs, there are two options open to you. They are;

Part I Registration

Register your boat on the Part I register if you want to:

  • prove you own the boat
  • prove your boat’s nationality
  • use the boat as security for a marine mortgage
  • register a pleasure vessel
  • get ‘transcripts of registry’, which show the boat’s previous owners and whether there are any outstanding mortgages

Your boat must have a unique name to be registered and it costs £124 to register for 5 years.

Part III Registration

If you want to prove the boat’s nationality when sailing outside UK waters then use Part III (Small Ships Register). This costs £25 for 5 years and to be eligible you must fit the following criteria;

  • your boat must be less than 24 metres long
  • you must be a private individual (not a company)
  • you must live in the UK for at least 185 days of the year
  • your boat must have a name

You can make changes to the existing register online, including changing ownership details, boat details, contact address, etc.

You’ll be sent a renewal notice when it’s time to renew. For further details check the requirements on the HM Government website.

If you are venturing no further than the UK’s inland waterways you must first establish what sort of registration your require.

If you have a small rowing boat, canoe, paddle board canal boat, motor boat or dinghy and you propose to use it on inland waterways (e.g. a canal or river) you must first hold insurance and a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate (BSS). 

You must register annually for the waterways you are using, although you may buy a visitor registration or licence for shorter periods.  If you plan to carry more than 12 passengers you must have a passenger carrying certificate, issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). If you plan to use your craft commercially, you’ll need to apply for a boatmaster’s licence.

Failure to comply with these regulations is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and you may have your boat removed.

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