eBook – Understanding Marine and Waterways Licensing and Permits

Sep 13, 2023

Zatpermit - canal boats moored in a row, aerial photo


eBook: Learn how permits are used in the maritime sector by private operators and Local Authorities.

Permits are used for parking, but did you know they are also used by the maritime sector?


We’ve all seen parking permits issued at car parks and on residential streets but parking isn’t the only industry that uses permits, they’re also widely used for managing waterways licensing, harbours and commercial vessels.

Licences and permits are used in commercial shipping and fishing, marine construction, waterside leisure activities, sailing and boating, and other watersports. In this article, we highlight some of the different uses of permits on the coast and inland waterways and rivers.

Marina - aerial photo - online marina car park control system

Inland Waterway Permit Management

In the UK, there are over 200 inland waterways, canals and rivers, stretching over 5,000 miles. Believe it or not, you need a permit to use nearly all of them. 

Canal and River Boat Permit Management

Every owner of a watercraft must have a permit to use it on British waterways. Any type or size of boat, with or without a motor, must have a permit to use the waterways managed by Local Authorities, Trusts, or the Environment Agency.

Unpowered Boat Permit Management

You may be surprised to learn that even leisure activities like canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding require a permit on canals and rivers. These types of permits are available via waterways authorities or local authorities online boat permit systems.

Marina Permit Management

Marinas for leisure boats and yachts manage their berths (spaces) in a very similar way to car park operators. Marina berth charges vary by the time of year, summer or winter, and by time period, e.g. short stay or long stay. 

Marinas tend to issue berth permits for summer and winter seasons, and charges are typically based on the length of the vessel. Additional charges can be set for other services such as parking, EV vehicle charging, fresh water, electricity charging, and shoreside waste facilities. Marinas can also offer mooring permits, launch only permits, and small boat storage permits using their boat licensing system.

    Leisure Fishing Permits

    Leisure fishing is one of the most popular sports in the UK, and on most waterways, you must have a fishing permit called a rod licence. 

    In England and Wales, you can get a fine of up to £2,500 if you are discovered to be fishing without a valid permit. Typically, fishing fines are issued by the Local Authority riverbank enforcement team.

    Commercial Shipping Port Permits & Fees

    Shipping traffic arriving and departing from commercial UK ports is managed by port authorities who use a harbour management system. 

    Cargo Loading and Unloading Permit Fees

    Merchant ships must obtain a loading and unloading permit from the port authority to be able to load or unload cargo. Charges vary based on the size of the ship and the type of cargo it’s carrying. 

    Shipping Pilotage Permits

    Pilotage means obtaining the services of a Pilot to bring a vessel to the harbour. 

    Ships that want to use Pilot services to enter and exit a port must submit a pilot order (request for a pilot). 

    Ports can also issue a wide range of additional charges, such as commercial dockside parking. 

    Marine Management Construction Licences

    Construction companies need marine works permits to undertake new works on rivers and estuaries, for example 

    • Building a new landing pier.
    • Dredging.
    • Temporary construction works. 

    Commercial Fishing Vessel Licences

    All commercial fishing vessels must have fishing permits. There is a wide range of permits for different types of fishing. Some examples are

    • Mobile sea fishing permit.
    • Commercial crab and lobster pot permit.
    • Commercial netting permit.

    Commercial fishing permits around UK coastal waters and estuaries are governed by the UK’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) requirements and local by-laws. 

    Dredging Permits and Licences

    Dredging means moving or clearing material from one area of the seabed, riverbed or estuary floor to another. A marine dredging permit is required to carry out a dredging activity in offshore waters and inland rivers and waterways. 

    Mudlarking, Beachcombing and Metal Detecting Permits

    Beachcombing has become a very popular pastime around the UK. However, in some places, you must have a permit to do it. 

    Beachcombing is performed on what is termed ‘the foreshore’, which is the tidal zone of estuaries and beaches. 

    On this area of the River Thames in London, this is referred to as ‘mudlarking’. However, searching the Thames shoreline requires a foreshore permit. 

    Shipping, Cruise Ship, and Marina Parking Management

    Shipping ports see huge volumes of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) arriving and departing from docksides, loading and unloading shipping cargo. These ports use vehicle access control systems to manage freight traffic. Freight vehicle operators must obtain access permits before their vehicles arrive at the dockside.

    With security and efficiency in mind, some ports are beginning to integrate Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras with their access control systems. 

    Cruise ship ports, marinas, and sailing clubs all require parking facilities. These car parks require management in the same way as public and private car parks. 

    Marine Permit Management for Local Authority Digital Transformation

    We have just touched the surface of the different uses of permits in the marine sector. Permits are used for authorising all sorts of marine leisure and business activities. 

    As we’ve highlighted, permits are used for everything from leisure fishing to security access at shipping ports. As we see more automation being implemented by the private and public sectors in all different areas of society, we’ll see traditional physical or paper permits replaced by digital permits. Self-service online permit management systems will become the standard for both consumers and businesses. 

    Permit management technology solutions like Zatpermit enable the simple management of parking permits. The combined features of Zatpermit and Zatkiosk are a perfect solution for managing parking spaces at marine locations, and Zatpark ANPR integrations are a great fit for dockside HGV parking. Technology systems like Zatpark that have the flexibility to manage any permit, licence, or ticket for any industry will lead the way in SMART system digital transformation. 

    If you’d like to learn more about marine and waterways management download out eBook.

    Download our eBook for even more detail about maritime and waterways permits: Mudlarks, Ships, Kayaks, and Boat – Understanding Maritime and Waterways Permits

    Zatpermit - eBook preview marine permits

    How Zatpark & Zatpermit help

    Zatpark is a cloud-based parking and permit management service. It provides end-to-end management of parking and permit management processes. Zatpark’s advanced back office suite integrates seamlessly with a host of third-party ANPR, appeals, and debt resolution suppliers.

    Zatpark enforcement platform and Zatpermit enables permit management:

    • Simplification
    • Efficiency
    • Control
    • Integration

    Contact us for a no-obligation chat and discover how Zatpark and Zatpermit can help you.

    Vehicle Keeper vs. Owner

    Vehicle Keeper vs. Owner

    What's the difference between a vehicle keeper and an owner?In the UK, a vehicle registration document called a V5 is used to identify the person who is using (keeping) the vehicle. V5s are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and are referred to...

    read more
    Parking Charge Transfer of Liability

    Parking Charge Transfer of Liability

    How Transfer of Liability WorksIf a car was driven by someone other than the keeper at the time a parking ticket was issued, the keeper can transfer the charge to the driver.If a vehicle contravenes parking rules the parking operator may issue a charge notice (PCN) to...

    read more
    Fleet PCN Management: Solving PCN Transfer of Liability

    Fleet PCN Management: Solving PCN Transfer of Liability

    Learn about Zatpark Fleet Checker Handling complex fleet PCN scenarios is where Fleet PCN management systems come into their own, saving time and money for the parking operator and making life easier for the fleet company and their customers. Enter Zatpark Fleet...

    read more