You need a waterway licence to paddle board on the majority of managed rivers and canals in England and Wales. If you don’t have proof of a waterway licence you could end up with a hefty fine from the waterway authority that manages that stretch of water.

The good news, a waterway licence is really easy and affordable to purchase. Also you get peace of mind knowing that the fee’s from licences help with the long-term protection of the waterways you’ll be paddling on.

The On The Water Adult Membership is great value at £45 for the year and gives you the following benefits:

Benefits Of Having A British Canoe Licence

Benefits Of Having A
British Canoe Licence

Whether SUP, canoe, or kayak, British Canoeing On The Water membership gives you a licence that opens up 4,500km of water for you enjoy.

On the Water membership gives you instant access to the most comprehensive and best value waterways licence available. Purchased individually, the licences in British Canoeing membership would cost you £130!

You also get public liability insurance, which is required by most lakes, harbours and waterways authorities.

Members get access to top tips and content to help you get the most from your paddling, and a wide range of discounts and offers to help you save money on kit or your everyday spending.

By being a member you are supporting our Clear Access Clear Waters campaign, with the aim to seek greater public access to water for recreation, but also to secure the protection of our natural environment.


The money generated from licences enables the waterway authorities to carry out a wide range of work that often goes unseen. This includes:

Paddle responsibly and ensure you purchase your waterway licence!

Most of the waterways which require a licence to paddle on are covered in British Canoeing (or Canoe Wales) membership.

You can check the waterways covered here You can check the waterways covered here

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you will need to login and join through the relevant Home Nation membership portal: