Skip to main content

New arrangements for issuing vessel licence variations

We are changing the way we notify licence holders or nominees about variations to any part of your fishing vessel licence (conditions, schedule and annexe to a schedule).

Under the Sea Fishing (Licence and Notices) (England) Regulations 2012 that came into force on 6 April 2012, variations will only be available on our website and will no longer be sent out by letter to licence holders or nominees.

A variation will be considered as being received when it is published on our website and you will be required, as part of your licence conditions, to check our website on a weekly basis, with Fridays the suggested day, for notifications relating to your licence. We will also send notifications through an email and/or text message. All owners of vessels we administer are being written to during April informing them of the change and asking them to supply email addresses and/or mobile phone numbers to their local office.

Please note that not providing an email address and/or mobile telephone number or providing an email address and/or a mobile telephone number that is not working is not a legal defence for not having received a notification of a licence variation.

Actual fishing vessel licences will continue to be sent out as hard copies when they are due to be reissued. For vessels 10 metres and under in length the next reissue will be 1 July 2012 and for vessels over 10 metres in length that will be 1 April 2013.

Variations are available from

Transition period

We will continue to send out paper notifications for the first three months of the new system from July to September as well as the new electronic notifications (email or text message). The first electronic-only variation will be issued for the 1 October 2012.

What you should do now

If you have not already provided the MMO with an email address and/or mobile phone number, you should urgently get in touch with their local MMO office and provide them with up to two email addresses or mobile phone numbers for each licence.

If you contact your local MMO offices by email, you should provide vessel name, licence number and PLN.

From 1 July 2012 licence holders or nominees should check our website every Friday for any notifications of variations to their fishing vessel licences.


The new regulations are a result of the consultation on the introduction of electronic notification of variations to fishing licences that Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ran between 12 December 2011 and 23 January 2012. Defra invited views of all stakeholders who would be affected by a change in the system and these included those in the commercial fishing industry, including licence and entitlement holders for all English-administered vessels.

The new electronic notification system will provide vessel owners with a more efficient, transparent and timely means of communicating variations. This change will also reduce the current significant administrative paper burden on the fishing industry and will be more cost effective for the Government.

Those affected by this change will be owners of English fishing boats, whose fishing vessel licence we administer. Your vessel is an English fishing boat if when you registered your vessel under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 you gave an English port of registration.