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.

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 re-actively 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 licenced 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 unlicenced boat, you have 28-days from taking ownership to contact us and apply for a licence.

Anglian Pass

The Anglian Pass is a pass that enables unrestricted visitor access to partner navigations. An annual registration/licence is still required and if you are based on the Middle Level that needs to be a Middle Level Commissioners licence.

If you have an Environment Agency Anglian waterways licence for the Nene or Great Ouse, CRT Gold Licence or Cam Conservators licence you can purchase an Anglian Pass to enable you to visit the Middle Level. If you are a Middle Level licence holder then purchasing an Anglian Pass will enable you to visit the Environment Agency Nene & Great Ouse waterways and the Cam Conservators waterways.

Notice: Anglian Pass for 2024
For consideration when renewing your Anglian Pass for 2024. Please note that an emergency closure is currently in effect at Salters Lode Lock due to siltation issues within the Great Ouse Tidal River between Salters Lode and Denver Locks. For details, refer to the MLC emergency closure notice

Until the siltation matter is resolved, you may not be able to fully utilize your Anglian Pass. However, visits between the Great Ouse and Cam, as well as visits between the Nene and Middle Level, remain possible. For details,  please refer to the EA Navigation notices at Great Ouse & Tributaries | Visit Anglian Waterways

Canal & Rivers Trust Gold Licence Holders

If you hold a CRT Gold Licence you will either need an Anglian Pass or Middle Level visitor licence to visit our waterways.

The Gold Licence arrangements are a partnership between the CRT and the Environment Agency and it has been concluded that there is insufficient demand to justify changes in IT systems and legal agreements to include the Middle Level Commissioners within the formal arrangements. However, we are awaiting (as of March 2024) a formal offer from the Environment Agency to provide income from those CRT Gold Licence holders who have their home mooring as ‘Middle Levels’ within their CRT online account details. We can then invest this income within the Middle Level system alongside other licencing income.

In anticipation of this offer from the Environment Agency, if you are a CRT Gold Licence holder and the Middle Level is your home mooring then you need to ensure your details within the CRT system are correct to be considered as licenced on our waterways. We will need to review the situation if the Environment Agency’s offer does not materialise by the end of the 2024 boating season.

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.