Navigation – Licensing.

If you wish to navigate the Middle Level you will need a licence and all you need to know is included on this page. You are also required to have adequate insurance, including a Boat Safety Certificate. If you wish to paddle (canoe, kayak or paddleboard) on the Middle Level please see here.

Licensing was introduced from 1st September 2020. Annual licences can be obtained via the forms below. Weekly and monthly visitor licences can also be obtained below, or from Stanground, Salters Lode Locks and our offices in March.

Coming Soon

For the 2024/25 licensing season we will be introducing three new ‘non standard’ classes of annual licence:

· Marina only; For vessels that are used as a dwelling and remain in a marina.

· Project; A boat that is actively undergoing repair or refurbishment on the water within a marina or directly on MLC waters

· Trade; A working boat associated with a business

Information on the conditions associated with these licences and the licence fees will be published in Spring 2024 once the 2024/25 fees have been determined.

Selling your boat

An annual licence transfers with the boat ownership, so if a boat is put for sale mid-licensing season then the licence transfers to the new owner.

If the seller has fully paid for their annual licence and the new owner intends to stay on Middle Level waters, then the licence transfers. No annual licence refunds will be given and the seller should factor this into the arrangement with the purchaser. If the new owner intends to remove the boat from Middle Level waters, then a refund for the period the boat will not be on Middle Level water (less a £50 admin fee) can be sought.

If owners think they may sell their boat within an upcoming licensing season, then they are encouraged to set up a monthly Direct Debit to pay for their annual licence that can be cancelled upon sale. Please let us know beforehand, as reactively chasing cancelled direct debit payments is time we could better invest elsewhere.

In all cases it is the seller’s responsibility, within 14 days of sale/transfer, to provide us with the new owners contact details and the date of sale/transfer so we can ensure the licence is transferred. If this is not provided the seller is deemed under our Byelaws to continue to be the owner of the vessel. New owners are asked to get in touch with us proactively too, so we can ensure all their details are correct and they understand licensing requirements.

Buying a boat on the Middle Level

If you buy a licensed boat located on Middle Level waters please get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can ensure we have the right contact information and we can talk you through licensing requirements.

If you buy an unlicensed boat, you have 28-days from taking ownership to contact us and apply for a licence.

Anglian Pass

If you have an Environment Agency Anglian waterways licence for the Nene or Great Ouse and/or Cam Conservators licence you can purchase an Anglian Pass to enable you to navigate on the Middle Level. Without an Anglian Pass you will need a licence from us.

If you are a Middle Level licence holder then purchasing an Anglian Pass will enable you to navigate on the Environment Agency Nene & Great Ouse waterways and on the Cam Conservators waterways.

Canal & Rivers Trust Gold Licence Holders

If you hold a CRT Gold Licence you will either need an Environment Agency  Anglian Pass or Middle Level visitor licence or annual licence to navigate on our waterways. We continue to work with CRT to review the viability of including the Middle Level within their Gold Licence arrangements. In order to help CRT quantify demand, there is now the option in their IT system for Gold License Holders to select ‘Middle Levels’ as their home mooring.

Background Information

Why was the Middle Level licence fee introduced?

For decades local agricultural ratepayers and District Councils had been virtually fully funding the upkeep of the navigation because the legislation that controlled it was outdated and only allowed charges for navigation related to the value of the cargo being carried. This harked back to pre-industrial times when the primary use of waterways was for the movement of goods.

To address this and in recognition of the push from government for a move to a more justified position, where the beneficiary should at least be contributing towards the costs borne by a public authority, the Commissioners felt the time was right to go through the costly and time-consuming procedure of updating the legislation to put them in line with other navigation authorities. All this work culminated in November 2018 when the Middle Level Act was passed (see Governance).

Will the Middle Level make a profit from charging for navigation?

No, there is no likelihood of the licence fee covering anywhere near the cost of running the navigation for the foreseeable future, especially with the added commitment to improve it and there was an undertaking given to the House of Lords that would actually (at this time) preclude us from doing so.

A financial summary of our 2022/23 navigation service is available here and helps demonstrate this.