British Marine and the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA) are pleased to announce the launch of a revised Hire Boat Code to ensure the continued safe operation of hire boats for all.

The Hire Boat Code outlines the standards for boats let for hire on inland waterways and carrying 12 people or less. Developed by British Marine and AINA, it provides the framework for continued safe business operations of hire boats on inland waterways, and clarifies the responsibilities of operators, navigation authorities and users. It also helps businesses by the consistent application of licensing and registration requirements through inland navigation authority waterways in the UK. Importantly, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency has been actively involved throughout the development of the Code and is supportive of its purpose and content.

First published in 2009, the latest version of the Hire Boat Code includes a new raft of requirements, including a new stability requirement, and formalises a number of current and new safety management procedures. One of the major changes is the recognition that it is of the utmost importance that all who take part in hire boating understand their responsibilities to ensure the experience is a safe and enjoyable one. The responsibilities for user safety do not solely rely on the hire boat operators but also the navigation authorities and most of all the users. Another key update to the Code is the requirement for improved handover procedures before a boat leaves the shore.

Due to different licensing or registration processes followed by navigation authorities in different areas of the country, the revised Code will be rolled out and implemented over the next 12 months dependent on the navigation authority. Navigation authorities will engage with hire operators on their waterways to inform them of when and how the revised Code will be implemented on their waterways.

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, commented: “I am delighted the revised Hire Boat Code is now available. Safety onboard craft is paramount to British Marine and our members, and the second edition of the Hire Boat Code is a crucial step forward for supporting safety on our waterways. Importantly, the revised Code has been brought up to date through the consideration of the many advances in boat design, regulation and operation which have occurred since the first Code was published.”

Philip Burgess, Executive Director of AINA, added: “The publication of the revised Hire Boat Code is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by AINA and British Marine on behalf of members of both organisations. It demonstrates the serious intent with which both parties manage safety risks in this area of activity effectively and proportionately.”

Nigel Hamilton, Chair of British Marine Inland Boating Association, also said: “In the last year we have seen a large increase in the numbers of new users on the waterways. The latest Hire Boat Code supports hirers and navigation authorities to provide safe on the water experiences for all, and that safe and manageable waterways are ensured. It plays a key part in making certain we continue to attract new and existing users to the inland waterways.”

The revised Hire Boat Code can be viewed on the British Marine website and the AINA website.

Download – Code for the Design, Construction and Operation of Hire Boats 2021