Understanding the Law & Boat Mooring


If you own your own boat or perhaps are renting one from someone else, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of the law on mooring.

It’s fairly straightforward stuff but it’s important to know, otherwise, you risk getting in trouble and possibly facing a fine.

And with 35,000 sharing just 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, it’s important that everyone does abide by the rules.

We spoke to P&A French Moorings in Essex who said: “One of the best things about boating is the freedom of being able to pitch up where you want, but it’s important that you’re considerate so that everyone can enjoy our waterways equally.”

We’ll be taking a look at some of the different types of mooring that are available:

Long-term moorings

Also known as permanent or home moorings, long-term moorings are permanent places where a boat stays while not being used.

Essentially, every boat must have a permanent mooring unless it’s in constant use. There will usually be an agreement in place between the boat owner and the landowner (land meaning both the water as well as actual land) or moorings operator, with a fee usually being paid.

These agreements generally last for around 12 months and there are numerous different types of long-term moorings.

Leisure moorings

These long—term moorings are just used for recreational purposes.

Residential moorings

These moorings allow the user to use their boat as their sole or primary residence. These types of mooring may have some kind of services and utilities for the residents to use.

Trade moorings

Trade moorings are specifically designated to owners of commercial boats. They can be either long or short term depending on the agreement, but they are designed to provide a service to waterway visitors.

Short term moorings

These moorings are for use over much shorter periods of time, with a standard period usually being around 14 days, however, they will likely be less in the most popular places.

During the winter, most short term mooring agreements will be relaxed to around two weeks but during the summer you might struggle to find such lenient agreements.

Visitor moorings

These moorings are generally at popular locations where visitors are likely to only be there for a couple of days or weeks and are essentially designed to enable as many people as possible to use the mooring.

Service moorings

Moorings for things such as water, sewage and refuse disposal points, which can only be used while the facilities are being used.

We always recommend mooring against the towpath on signed visitor moorings as most riverbanks are private property.

The Canal and River Trust do employ staff to check the waterways and enforce these rules and if you ignore their warnings then you could find yourself in deep trouble, even having your boat taken from you.

To find out more about who owns land next to a river or canal you can head to the Land Registry’s website.