Mooring and berthing in the harbour

Availability of berthing

We currently have a waiting list in operation for all types of vessel and for all areas in the Bristol Harbour.

Bristol Harbour Authority administers the licensing of about 400 berths within Bristol docks. Bristol is a very popular place for leisure boaters to keep their craft. Berths do occasionally become available.

Short term visitor berths

There are approximately 50 visitors’ berths in the harbour. See the harbour map for locations. Water and electricity are available at these berths.

Please check the local notices to mariners to avoid conflict with the events in the harbour.

See related documents for navigation and berthing charge information.

Secure visitor berths are now available with key and coded access at the Arnolfini pontoons.

Only craft of up to 15m in length can moor in the Harbour Inlet.

Annual berths

Vessels are berthed:

  • alongside the quay walls either singly or double-banked
  • alongside pontoons and finger pontoon for smaller craft

Annual-term moorings in Bristol Harbour are allocated from a waiting list. An application must have been made and the vessel allocated a mooring by the Moorings Officer before any vessel can occupy a berth other than the short-term transit moorings.

For operational reasons it may be necessary to relocate craft to another mooring at any time.

Vessels moored alongside quay walls must secure to bollards or mooring rings and put out fenders to the craft moored inside. To prevent one craft from pounding against another, the two should be secured together with diagonal springs.

For licensing purposes vessels are categorised according to their main use, for example leisure, residential, commercial, and into berthing areas, depending on the location. See table below and the Harbour map (pdf, 454 KB) (opens new window) .

Berthing Area Location description
Class A West of Bristol Bridge
Class B East of Bristol Bridge
Hanover Quay Hanover Quay (map ref.18)
St Augustine’s Reach (West side) Bordeaux Quay to City Centre (map ref.21)
The Grove East of Prince Street Bridge (map ref.25)
Temple Back West of Temple Way Bridge (map ref.33)
Temple Quay East of Temple Way Bridge (map ref.34)


Some moorings may have to be vacated three or four times a year for major events such as boat shows, regattas, festivals or visiting ships. There is less likelihood of this happening in Class ‘B’ areas.

There are currently four disabled access landing stages: Baltic Wharf, Castle Park, St Augustine’s Reach and Temple Quay.

Note: An adult must accompany anyone under 16 years of age when onboard vessels and pontoons.

Applying for an annual berth licence

Annual licensing starts on 1 May each year. You can apply for an annual licence for long term berthing by downloading and completing an application form.

Conditions of a license application

  • You must provide provide evidence that your vessel meets the Boat Safety Scheme standards.
  • You must provide a recent photograph of your vessel (taken within one month)
  • The craft must be insured against third party risks and passenger liability to a minimum of £3,000,000 for any one claim.
  • Craft must be properly marked with the name on both sides of the bow. Plastic numerals may be obtained from ships’ chandlers.
  • A licence sticker is issued and must be displayed on the vessel.

After your application has been submitted

Once we receive your completed application we will contact you by telephone to tell you whether your application has been successful.

If you have not been successful we will add your craft to the current waiting list relevant to your type of vessel and location requirements.

Licenses for part of a year and refunds

Annual licences expire on 30 April, therefore the fee payable is reduced in stages during the course of the year.

If a licence is given up, a refund may be claimed up to a maximum of three-quarters of the annual amount payable, depending on the time left to run. Download the application for a refund form (pdf, 12 KB) (opens new window) .

Change of ownership

If a boat changes ownership, the original owner should surrender his/her licence, and the new owner must apply for a new licence. Craft may not tranfer their licence without the consent of the Harbour Master.  Each transfer request will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Leisure Moorings

The facilities provided range from fully serviced marina-type pontoon berths for vessels up to 9.5 metres and linear quay wall berths for larger vessels. Please note - until further notice we're unable to accept new applications from narrow boats and barges (from 9 November 2015).
Leisure mooring application (pdf, 23 KB) (opens new window) .

Winter moorings

There are approx 20 visitors berths located in the central part of the harbour. Some of these berths are made available to cruising live-aboard boaters for winter lay-up between 1 October and 31 March of the following year. Winter mooring application (pdf, 12 KB) (opens new window) .

Demand is very high for these berths so early application is essential.

If your application is successful your vessel must leave the harbour on 1 April.

Residential moorings

There is a long waiting list for residential moorings. The residential berths are currently fully allocated and rarely become available. No other residential use of vessels is permitted. However, the Harbour Office will accept an application for a residential mooring (pdf, 12 KB) (opens new window) to be placed on the waiting list.

The following summarises the main points about residential moorings:

  • There are 2 residential mooring areas, Welsh Back and Wapping Wharf. Each has planning consent and individual moorings are also licensed.
  • Waste will be removed from sewage holding tanks by mobile pump-out services.
  • No car parking spaces will be allocated on the quayside for residential mooring.
  • Residential Mooring Agreements currently have a term of up to 25 years with break clauses and review provisions every 5 years and an appropriate charging regime to reflect the facilities enjoyed and services provided. Some craft are recognised as being used for residential purposes but have annual or winter licences.

Shore Storage

Shore storage when available is subject to allocation from a waiting list and suitable for canoes on racks and dinghies of up to 5 metres in length with launching trolley.  There is no availability for road trailers. To join the waiting list for shore storage you should complete a storage application form (pdf, 11 KB) (opens new window) .

City docks mooring policy

For more information about mooring and berthing in the docks please read the City Docks mooring policy.