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IWA Certificate of Boat Management

The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate is the most widely recognised boat-handling qualification for Britain’s inland waterways.  IWA’s Certificate of Boat Management is for operators of small passenger boats (maximum 12 passengers).  The scheme is governed by Maritime & Coastguard Agency regulations, which also defines the (Category A) waterways that the Certificate is valid for.

Boat-handling qualifications

RYA Helmsman Course

There is no prior knowledge needed for the course, which is great for beginners who want to prepare for a boating holiday or to assist a helmsman. 

Experienced boaters may wish to do the course to improve their skills in certain areas, or may need the certificate for a job or for insurance purposes.

Courses usually last one or two days with prices varying from £100 per person to £400.

IWA Certificate of Boat Management (COBM)

Many small passenger boats (defined as having a maximum of 12 passengers) are operated by volunteers as fundraising enterprises for waterway charities and restoration groups, or to promote their waterways.  IWA’s Certificate of Boat Management provides accreditation and certification for people managing and steering small passenger boats through a structured training and assessment scheme.

  • Approved and endorsed by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency
  • Designed to ensure passenger and crew safety within an identified area of operation
  • Training & assessment process is appropriate for operating small passenger boats carrying a maximum of 12 passengers
  • IWA trainers are available to train or provide guidance

Download the IWA Certificate of Boat Management (pdf)

You will also need to produce a bespoke Trip Boat Operations Guide.   This guide should include operational best practice, an emergency procedures plan and passenger information commentary.

Download an exemplar Trip Boat Operations Guide (pdf)


Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Funding of Canal & River Trust waterways

IWA was instrumental in Canal & River Trust receiving a sufficient funding package from Government when the new charity was set up in 2012 to run the waterways previously managed by British Waterways.

Funding of waterways managed by the Environment Agency

Along with its many environmental responsibilities, the Environment Agency manages the navigation of 630 miles of waterways – such as the River Thames and the River Medway in the south east – and many waterways in the Anglian Region.