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Pleasure boat licence

You must have a boat licence for the operation of pleasure boats for hire to members of the public, or to be used for carrying passengers for hire.

This type of licence is required for sailboards, rowing boats, canoes, motor boats, pedalos and larger boats or ferries carrying less than 12 passengers.

Licences may be subject to a fee and conditions may be attached to a licence.

View a summary of the regulations relating to this licence.

Christchurch and East Dorset

If you can't apply online, you can download and complete the application form which must be accompanied by:

  • the licence fee
  • a certificate of suitability and a public liability insurance certificate

For applicants in East Dorset, please read the East Dorset Pleasure Boat Conditions.


Each licence is valid from 1 April to 31 March each year.

Before you apply you should:

All boats are inspected annually.

West Dorset

Lyme Regis and West Bay harbours have a maximum number of 14 Ply for Hire licences each.  These are issued to certificated boats, taken by a mixture of tripping boats, dive charter boats and a self drive boat business. They operate from Easter to the end of September. Please contact us for more information.

Apply for a licence

You can apply for a pleasure boat licence, or change or renew an existing one on


For Weymouth Harbour, pleasure boats carrying passengers must either be Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) coded and approved or licenced by the Harbour Master. Contact the Weymouth Harbour office for further details.

Tacit consent

Tacit consent doesn't apply to this licence. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from your local authority within 28 days, please contact them. 

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