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Thames foreshore permits

New Foreshore Permits are not currently available.

To protect the unique historical integrity of the Thames foreshore, the ability to request new Foreshore Permits has been paused.

Please check this page for updated information as to when permits will be issued again.

Current valid permits are not affected by this change.

Custom House Foreshore

Following a request from the Crown Estate, as owners of the foreshore in this location, entry to the foreshore in front of Custom House in the City of London as shown on the chart extract below is prohibited from 1 November 2023. Entry is prohibited to holders of both Standard and Digging Permits and from this date, consent to search or dig in the foreshore in this area is withdrawn.

Important Safety Notice

Please avoid the foreshore in the vicinity of Free Trade Wharf, Wapping as shown in the extract below due to the condition of the timber structures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why have you removed the ability to request a Foreshore Permit?

In consultation with the Museum of London and Historic England, we've paused issuing new permits to protect the foreshore of the tidal River Thames, a delicate historical site that has come under increasing pressure from visitors. 

How long will the Foreshore Permit programme be closed?

The issuing of new permits will be paused for an indefinite period. We will evaluate the impact of the suspension and use our findings to determine the best way to relaunch the permits.

When will I be able to request a new permit?

Once we determine the best way to relaunch issuing new permits, we will publish an article in our Tidal Thames News (subscribe here) and on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn).

I currently have a permit. Will I still be able to visit the foreshore?

Yes, the pause affects new permits only.

What if my permit expires during the suspension?

You will be able to renew your permit via your membership account at this link. If you do not have an account, email [email protected]. Please note that permits must be renewed prior to their expiry.

Is the PLA closing the foreshore?

No, the foreshore will remain open.

Can I visit the foreshore without a permit?

While you may visit the foreshore, you may not search the tidal Thames foreshore from Teddington to the Thames Barrier - in any way for any reason. This includes all searching, metal detecting, ‘beachcombing’, scraping and digging.

The Thames foreshore is a potentially hazardous environment which must be respected and contains some dangers that may not always be immediately apparent. The Thames can rise and fall by over seven metres twice a day as the tide comes in and out. The current is fast and the water is cold.

Anyone accessing the foreshore does so entirely at their own risk. Individuals must take personal responsibility for their own safety and that of anyone with them.

In addition to the tide and current, other less obvious hazards can be encountered, including raw sewage, broken glass, hypodermic needles and wash from vessels. Steps and stairs down to the foreshore can be slippery, dangerous and are not always maintained. Caution must be exercised when going onto or leaving the foreshore.

Before going onto the foreshore, always consider:

  • Wearing sensible footwear and gloves.
  • Carrying a mobile phone.
  • Visiting with others.
  • The state of the tide; is it rising or falling? Details of tide times is available from the PLA website and the PLA app.
  • You may need to get off the foreshore quickly – watch the tide and keep steps or stairs close by.
  • Finally, be aware of the possibility of Weil’s Disease, which is spread by rat urine in the water. Infection is usually through cuts in the skin or through eyes, mouth or nose. Medical advice should be sought immediately if ill effects are experienced after visiting the foreshore, particularly ‘flu like’ symptoms including a temperature and aching in the muscles and joints.

I have a valid permit. Can I sell items I recover from the foreshore?

Holders of Foreshore Permits may not sell items taken from the foreshore for personal gain. See our updated Terms and Conditions

Reporting finds

You must report any and all objects you find which could be of archaeological interest to the Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer at the Museum of London ([email protected]) or on 0207 814 5733. This scheme records all archaeological finds made by the public in England and Wales. If you believe that a find may qualify as treasure then you should contact the coroner for the district in which the object was found, usually within fourteen days of making the find. In practice many finders report treasure via the Finds Liaison Officer, which is also acceptable. The coroner or finds liaison officer will give guidance on what to do. The Treasure Act code of practice contains a directory of coroners in the Thames area.

Further advice can be found in this document - Portable Antiquities Scheme – Advice for Finders

Here is the full version of the Treasure Act 1996.

The export of archaeological objects from the UK to any destination requires a UK licence if the object is more than 50 years of age. The type of licence required will depend on where the object was found and, in some cases, the value of the object.

Why do I need consent?

All the foreshore in the UK has an owner. Metal detecting, searching or digging is not a public right and as such it needs the permission of the landowner. The PLA and the Crown Estate are the largest landowners of Thames foreshore and jointly issue a permit, which is administered by the PLA, allowing all searching, metal detecting, ‘beachcombing’, scraping and digging.

Can I magnet fish in the tidal Thames?

Magnet fishing in the tidal Thames is not allowed, even with a Foreshore Permit. This is because of potential hazards to navigation, the environment and the safety of individuals involved and other river users.

Group Activities on the Thames Foreshore

Anyone wishing to organise a group activity such as a walk or guided tour which does not involve any disturbance of the Thames foreshore must first apply for written permission from the Port of London Authority’s Estates Department on [email protected].  

If the group activity involves any disturbance of the foreshore, then each participant must also have their own individual Thames Foreshore Permit. In addition, the event organiser will also need permission from the Estates Department.

Where on the Thames foreshore can I dig or search?

Permits issued by the PLA are only valid for certain locations west of the Thames Barrier upstream to Richmond Lock. They are not valid east of the Thames Barrier and no searching/digging is allowed on the foreshore of the River Thames east of this point.  

A GIS-based map of where Standard Permit holders may search the foreshore -- including all relevant restrictions listed in the Terms and Conditions associated with the Standard Permit -- is available below (details of the restrictions are available from the ‘Legend’ tab).

GIS-based map of where Standard Permit holders may search the foreshore