A Quick Guide to the Law and Boat Moorings

Whether you’re lucky enough to own your own boat, or are perhaps just renting one out, it’s vitally important that you understand what the law is when it comes to moorings.

There are numerous different types of moorings, all of which serve different purposes, and allow you to stay for a different amount of time, so we’re going to take a look at them.

Long-Term Moorings

Also known as home moorings, or permanent moorings, these are where a boat stays when it isn’t being used for cruising.

A boat must have a designated home mooring unless is it is constantly on the move from one short-term mooring to the next.

You will need to come to an agreement with the landowner or moorings operator before you can pitch up at a long-term mooring, and this will usually involve payment of a fee of some sort.

Bear in mind that when we say ‘landowner’ we refer to both the ‘land’ (water) that the boat sits on and the actual dry land which it is adjacent to.

This means that you’ll require permission from both the adjacent landowner and the Canal & River Trust.

If you wish to find out who owns the land next to a canal or river you can check at the Land Registry’s website.

Long-term moorings will usually allow you to stay there for as long as 12 months or perhaps even longer depending on the agreement.


They’re often split into leisure moorings and residential moorings. Leisure moorings are designated specifically for boats being used for recreational purposes, whereas residential ones have permission from the local authority to be used as your sole or primary residence and may have some additional facilities and services.

You might also notice trade moorings, which are reserved for specially licensed commercial boats and must not be used by other boats.

Short-Term Moorings

These moorings allow you to stay for much less time than a long-term mooring, with the standard period being 14 days, although this does vary.

During the summer months (April-October), this period is likely to be less, as more people wish to use the moorings during this popular time.

You may be able to find slightly longer term permits (for example, up to a month) and it’s common for boat owners to continuously cruise during the summer and then pitch up at a short term mooring for the winter.

Visitor moorings are usually found in very high demand locations and are restricted to 14 days or less to allow as many people to enjoy that location as possible, so it’s important that you abide by them.

We spoke to P&A French Moorings who said: “While short-term moorings and continuous cruising are great, it’s really important that you stick to the regulations so that everyone can enjoy the waterways.

If you find you’re struggling to abide by the time restrictions set by short-term moorings, it might be best to consider choosing a home mooring instead.”

You’ll also notice several service moorings which provide amenities such as water, sewage and refuse disposal points and it’s important that you only moor at these while using their facilities!