Boat & Boatman Licence guidance

Section 94 of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 ( as amended ) authorizes Local Authorities to grant licences for pleasure boats and for pleasure vessels let for hire or to be used for carrying passengers for hire, and also for persons in charge of navigating such vessels.

The Solent and Southern Harbour Master Association (SASHMA) have also issued a guidelines.


Portsmouth City Council issues boat licences under this Act in accordance with the Solent Harbour Master's Association guidelines. The guidelines concern the safety of craft and their passengers and incorporate the MCA Inland Waters and Small Passenger Vessel Code, and are limited to vessels under 24m in length, carrying no more than 12 passengers, on voyages that do not exceed MCA category D waters.

Portsmouth City Council will licence boats operating from Portsmouth Harbour up to MCA category D waters. Which for the Solent covers the area.......

Inside the Isle of Wight within an area bounded by a line drawn between

the church spire, West Wittering, to Trinity church, Bembridge in the eastward,

and the Needles and Hurst Point in the westward.

Application for a boat licence should be made on the form on this web site or on the form contained in the information pack available from N. Hardesty, Pilot/AHM, at Harbour Offices, Cruise and Ferry Port, Whale Island Way, Portsmouth PO2 8EB. Telephone: 023 9285 5937. Once completed the form should be sent to the above address.

Licences are issued after inspection, the fee for which ( currently £105) should be submitted with the application.

A checklist of requirements is included in the information pack but in order to minimize delay in the issue of a licence, applicants should note the following:

  1. MCA boatmaster 2
  2. RYA Coastal Skipper + commercial endorsement
  3. RYA power boat level 2 + commercial endorsement
  4. A Waterman's licence.
  5. Local authority issued Boatman's licence.

  1. ENG1
  2. ML5
  3. CAA commercial pilots licence medical certificate.
  4. DVLA group 2 drivers licence medical certificate
  5. HSE diving medical certificate.

NB Evidence of satisfactory colour vision , if not a marine medical certificate




Application for a Boatman's licence should be made on the form on this web site or on the form contained in the information pack referred to above.

The minimum age for the granting of a licence is 18.

A licence is granted following successful examination, which consists of a written examination and a practical assessment. The licence is valid for 3 years. Thereafter, the licence may be renewed on payment of the appropriate fee ( currently £40.00 ) and evidence of a valid medical certificate.

Examinations are conducted by appointment. The fee ( currently £85.00 ) should be submitted with the application.

In the event of a candidate failing the examination, a re-sit is possible after a minimum period of 30 days. There is a fee for a re-examination ( currently £55.00 ).

Persons with a MCA boatman's certificates, RYA Coastal Skipper certificate or above, or other higher qualification are exempted from all parts of the examination except for the section on local knowledge.

Licensed boatmen will be required to be in possession of an appropriate VHF operators licence, an approved medical certificate, a Basic Sea Survival certificate, and an approved First Aid certificate.

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