Covid-19 FAQ’s – Boating

On this page you will find answers to our FAQs surrounding boating on Scotland’s canals during Covid-19.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please complete our online enquiry form and we will do our very best to get back to you as quickly as we can. Please follow us on social media for the latest updates @scottishcanals.

Covid-19 guidance – Updated 22 March 2021

If I am visiting Scotland’s canals from abroad do I have to quarantine?

We are currently waiting on guidance from Scottish Government on international travel restrictions. Until this guidance is published we would kindly ask overseas boaters / boaters with overseas vessels not to book a transit licence until the new guidelines are in place.

You can follow the latest government guidance here.  We will also update this page as new information becomes available.

Can I move my boat around the network and when will I be able to navigate through locks and bridges?

The current ‘stay at home’ advice is due to change to ‘stay local’ on 2nd April 2021.

In areas unaffected by construction or maintenance works, subject to government guidance, we will aim to ensure that local boat movement is possible.  You can visit our Stoppage Programme here for more information on our improvement projects, including where any restrictions or closures may be in place.

Planned dates for sea to sea navigation re-opening are:

  • Crinan Canal – 1st May 2021
  • Caledonian Canal – 1st May 2021
  • Lowland Canals – 28th May 2021 (limited navigation on the Forth & Clyde Canal possible from 1st May 2021)

If you are planning to visit your boat please ensure you follow government guidelines on hand washing and physical distancing at all times. We would also advise a level of caution when carrying out these journeys as normal weed cutting and channel clearance was not carried out during lockdown.

Are boater facilities available and being maintained?

Yes, we continue to provide a service, with our employees and partners working to keep our waterways safe. If you are visiting any of our customer facilities including toilets please ensure you follow government advice on hand washing and physical distancing. We have signage onsite to advise you of any change to how we operate please ensure you follow these.

I haven’t moved my boat since last season, is there anything I need to do before I sail?

If your boat hasn’t been used for some time, you should take time to ensure the vessel is ready for operation for example; fresh water lines, hoses, and tanks flushed through.  Fuel and air filters should be cleaned or replaced, fuel quality checked, mooring lines checked, engines run and steering systems checked.

For more useful information visit RYA Scotland.

I have spotted areas of the canal overgrown and there’s a lot of weed in parts of the water are you planning to clear this?

Yes, currently our teams are out clearing around 500 tonnes of weed build up each week as well as carrying out core maintenance works.

Please continue to report any obstructions to navigation through

Will my mail continue to be delivered to the office as normal?

As our premises are closed, we are advising Residential customers to make alternative arrangements for how and where their mail is delivered.

What should I do if I am self-isolating and need help but don’t have any support networks?

Please contact us using the details above. We will work with partners to support boaters self-isolating as best we can without adding to the risk of transmission. We also encourage you to contact the Lowland Canals Association or Great Glen Canal Users Association if you require support from other boaters.

I’m over 70 and live on my boat, do I need to self-isolate?

Please follow government advice as set out on the NHS Inform website.

How can I help my fellow boaters?

We know that most of the boating community is very supportive of one another. In such times as these, we ask all boaters to look out for the more vulnerable members of the community. This could mean saving spaces near facilities for those in need, and not overstaying on popular moorings. If you are aware of a boater who may be vulnerable please let us know via email at

We also encourage you to contact the Lowland Canals Association or Great Glen Canal Users Association.

How can I make a payment to Scottish Canals?

For all payments, please email

Will I be entitled to a payment holiday for my mooring or boat licence?

All boating customers automatically received a three month break in their navigation licence payments for the months of April, May and June 2020, this was extended on the 22nd June to cover July  2020 also.

If you are having difficulties with financial hardships and payments please get in touch with us at

How do I reduce the risk of transmission through touching facilities that have been used by others?

In line with the government advice to all, it is advisable to wash your hands or use hand gels frequently to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus. We also encourage boaters to use facility blocks sparingly at this time and make use of their own onboard facilities wherever possible. If you do use the facilities, please clean them for other users.

What do I do if I’m a residential boater in self-isolation and am running low on essential provisions?

We know that the boating community is a close-knit one and that in many areas people will be looking out for each other and helping with things like shopping for those who are having to self-isolate. We also encourage you to contact the Lowland Canals Association or Great Glen Canal Users Association.

Will I still be able to get access to pump out and fuel when I need it?

Scottish Canals operational staff are working to provide boaters with fuel and pump out during these difficult times. In order to arrange fuel and pump out please contact Boat Movements on 07810 794 467. Please be aware that residential boaters will be given priority during this period.

My boat safety scheme (BSS) certificate is due.

We understand that customers whose BSS certificate is due to expire shortly will not be able to arrange an inspection. We are therefore deferring this requirement to the 31st March 2021 at which stage we will work with you to ensure your BSS Certificate is renewed as quickly as possible. We will review this date in line with Scottish Government guidance and updates.

Can I book a transit licence for 2021?

We will soon be putting transit licences on sale online, please check back here for the latest update on this.

Some hire boat companies are taking bookings for 2021. Please check with them directly.

You can view our hire boat operators here.

I have hired a holiday boat. Will I still be able to go on holiday?

We would advise you to contact your booking agent for the latest update on your holiday.

You can find out more about what Scottish Canals is doing across the business with our other FAQ pages below.

Towpath Usage and Activities

The Falkirk Wheel

Caledonian Canal Centre

The Steamer Terminal and The Egg Shed on the Crinan Canal

Bowling Harbour