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Vessel Licensing - Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a PLA licence?

All commercially operating vessels navigating, working or mooring within the Port of London limits are required to hold a licence issued by either the Port of London Authority (PLA) or an alternative licensing authority.  If the vessel currently does not have a valid licence, then the vessel will be required to be licensed by the PLA. Should the proposed vessel hold a licence, other than a PLA licence, then please contact the Vessel Licensing team to ensure that it is an appropriate licence for this category of water.

Will my vessel be commercially operating?

A vessel is deemed to be commercially operating if a gain or other reward is received for services rendered.  Examples of commercial activities include private vessels used for chartering purposes, vessels hired out to events organisers, vessels engaged in filming works and vessels engaged in hydrographic or survey work.

What type of licence will I require?

The PLA licences vessels to different categories depending upon their type of operation. Click here for details of the licence categories and periods of inspection.

What Survey Standards Apply?

The PLA utilises nationally recognised standards for Inland Waterways vessels, which have been developed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and industry representatives.  For Passenger Boats (carrying 12 or less passengers) the PLA uses the Inland Waterway Small Passenger Boat Code. For non passenger carrying vessels, the applicable standard is the Thames Freight Standard, which can be viewed here.

How much will it cost to licence my vessel?

Each vessel is subject to a charge for completion of an initial inspection. Should the vessel require a remedial inspection due to deficiencies noted during the initial inspection, then an additional remedial charge will be levied. Vessels are required to be inspected out of the water at set periods depending on the type of vessel, and this inspection is subject to charge. A charge is payable on application for a licence once the appropriate survey certificate has been granted.

What do I need to do to licence my vessel?

First you will need a PLA survey to be completed. The vessel survey application form may be downloaded here. Complete and return to the Vessel Surveying team. They will contact you to discuss further the intended operation of your vessel and arrange for an inspection to the relevant standards. Once a successful inspection has been carried out, the appropriate certificate will be issued.

Once the vessel has received the appropriate survey certificate, a licence application form should be completed and submitted to the Vessel Licensing team along with payment of the application fee. The team will assess the application and grant a PLA licence for the vessel to operate when they are satisfied with the information provided.

How long will it take to get my vessel licence?

The PLA aims to issue a vessel licence within 10 working days of receipt of a valid application containing all the relevant information listed above.