You can entirely legally buy a 30m barge and take it up the Thames as far as the locks will let you, amongst swimmers, rowers and thousands of plastic boats, or indeed anywhere in UK with no steerer's training or qualificatIons at all. 

DBA recommends you don't do that! We encourage every barge steerer to take appropriate training, and get suitable qualifications, before taking the helm.  There are several different courses available in the Suppliers Directory

It's different in mainland Europe. Each country has its own qualifications requirement.   The boat and its equipment are also subject to regulations, mainly pertaining to the safety of the crew and other waterway users.

The regulations which affect boat users, the ship and its equipment and the skipper’s qualifications can be confusing. This section aims to give an overview of the most important points, without getting bogged down in too much detail.

The Boat

This section summarises the regulations that affect the boat and its equipment. It covers the CEVNI, TRIWV, RAINWAT, BSS and other regulations and AIS.

The Skipper

This outlines the qualifications required of the skipper (or someone on board) for various size craft in the commonly visited countries.

VHF Radio

This section covers the requirements of both boat and skipper for VHF Radio equipment and licensing.


Pleasure craft of 20m and above, on larger waterways need to be equipped with AIS (Automatic Identification System), to see and be seen by other (large) boats.  AIS is also mandatory for ALL craft passing through the Port of Antwerp. 

For those who need more detail, there are links to the definitive legislation in each section 

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