News article

Brexit: Licensing for commercial fishing in non-UK waters

2 October 2019

A licensing authority has been set up to ensure UK fishermen have the correct licences to fish legally in line with any negotiated agreements, in non-UK waters

A licensing authority has been set up jointly by England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Fisheries Authorities (UKFAs) to ensure UK fishermen have the correct licences to fish legally in Norwegian, Faroese and EU seas after Brexit, in line with any negotiated agreements.

The Single Issuing Authority (SIA) will also issue licences to non-UK vessels to fish in UK waters, if access agreements are negotiated, and provided the vessels can demonstrate compliance with UK requirements.

After Brexit UK vessels will be barred from fishing in EU, Norwegian or Faroese waters unless the necessary international agreements are reached to allow them to do so. Non-UK vessels will be banned from fishing in UK waters in the same way, unless they are granted access under such future agreements.

Register your fleet over 12m
The authority is calling on vessel owners to take action to prepare for leaving the EU.

Vessels owners in the over 12m fleet will have to ensure their vessel has an IMO number to be licensed to fish outside UK waters when we leave the EU.

Owners of vessels are urged to register now for an IMO number from the International Maritime Organisation to enable the timely processing of the subsequent licensing documentation when the time comes.

Fishing vessel owners should complete the form and send it to to register with the IMO; this registration process takes approximately five working days. When fishermen have received their IMO number, they should email it to the SIA at along with their Port Letter and Number (PLN) and Registry of Shipping and Seamen (RSS) number.

Register your email address
The MMO and Devolved Administrations are also appealing to UK fishermen to send their email address to their relevant fisheries authority in preparation for Brexit. Domestic fishing licences will be varied to take effect from 31 October that will restrict fishers to fishing in UK waters only, unless access agreements are reached. An accurate email address is required to ensure licences can be issued.

Find out more about how the fisheries sector can prepare for Brexit