What licence you'll need, how to apply and what it'll cost

You'll need a manually propelled vessels licence to use your stand up paddleboard (SUP), kayak, canoe, rowing boat or sailing dinghy in Bristol Harbour.

What a licence covers

A manually propelled vessels licence is only for vessels that are less than 4 metres long and dont have engines. 

You can apply for either:

  • a day licence for just 1 day of use 
  • an annual licence that runs from 1 May 2024 to 30 April 2025

Cost of licence

  • day licence: £10.95
  • annual licence: £57.75  (£56.25 plus £1.50 postage and handling charge)

Annual licences are a fixed rate and there is no pro-rata for the licence.


You must have third party public liability insurance for a minimum of £3,000,000, for the vessel that you want to use.

If you buy a day licence, and do not have insurance, we'll charge you 85p to cover the compulsory third party insurance.

If your insurance runs out during the duration of your licence, you must send a copy of your renewed insurance document to harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk

Apply for a manually propelled vessels licence 

Day licence

To buy a day licence, you'll need to visit the Harbour Office

We only accept card payments.

You can only use the day licence on the day you buy it.

Annual licence

Apply for an annual licence

When applying for an annual licence:

  • You'll need to upload a copy of your valid insurance policy or membership details of the organisation that includes your insurance, such as British Canoeing. This must state your name, membership number and expiry date.
  • There will be postage charge of £1.50 for it to be sent to you. 

After you've applied we'll call you within 10 working days to take your payment over the phone.

We'll use the phone number you given us on the application form.

If we have not called you within 10 working days, call us on 0117 903 1484.

Using your licence 

You're not allowed to use the Harbour unless you've paid and received your navigation licence. 

You must:

  • have your licence available when using Bristol Harbour, as checks are made by Marine Officers
  • only launch from the slipway at Baltic Wharf
  • wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid
  • take note of the Underfall Yard Area exclusion zone