PLA Local Knowledge Endorsement
The Maritime & Coastguard Agencies (MCA) UK National Boatmasters License for skippers of commercial vessels on inland waterways, has been in place since January 2007. When this license was introduced the MCA permitted local port authorities to assess whether ‘local knowledge’ where the nature of the waterway and the trades (as identified through risk assessment) warranted a special localised endorsement.
On the Thames the more challenging reaches of the river - between Margaretness and Putney Bridge - fulfilled the MCA’s criteria for a Local Knowledge Endorsement (LKE) and therefore, anyone holding a national Boatmasters Licence navigating in this area are required to hold one. However, the requirement for an LKE did not include Masters who held commercially endorsed RYA qualifications or the Masters of vessels operating under the Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) Code from having an LKE.
In July 2012 the PLA’s Thames Byelaws 2012 were implemented, which require the Master of any commercial vessel between 13.7m and 40m length overall and those vessels under 13.7m length overall, which are engaged in passenger carriage or towing to hold an LKE for the tidal Thames.
We are here to assist you with your application for such a licence and below are several questions you may wish to read before proceeding any further:
- What is the Syllabus for the LKE?
- Do I need a LKE?
- I am a Recreational User – Do I need a LKE?
- Who can issue me with a LKE?
- What is the difference between a PLA LKE and a MCA LKE?
- What do I need to apply for a PLA LKE?
- What do I get?
- How do I apply for a LKE?
- What to apply for?
- How much will it cost?
- Guidance on booking an LKE
- What happens after passing an examination or revalidation
What is the Syllabus for the LKE?
Whilst MGN 1853 Amendment 1, Annex 13 contains the original syllabus, it does not reflect on current regulations and local knowledge requirements. In 2023, the syllabus has been reviewed with local practitioners and the MCA, which has subsequently been approved. It is not currently possible to update the MGN, therefore, the current 2023 syllabus can be found here: LKE Syllabus (ML2180)
Do I need a LKE?
If you are the Master of a Commercial vessel navigating between Margaretness and Putney Bridge that meets any of the following requirements then you will need a LKE:
- Your vessel is between 13.7m and 40m length overall;
- Your vessel is less than 13.7m length overall, but is either engaged in carrying passengers or undertaking towing operations;
- Your vessel has been issued with a Certificate of Compliance under the PLA’s Thames Byelaws 2012 to exceed the 12 knot speed limit between Margaretness and Putney Bridge.
I am a Recreational User – Do I need a LKE?
Masters of pleasure vessels will only require an LKE if they have applied for a Certificate of Compliance under the PLA’s Thames Byelaws 2012 to exceed the 12 knot speed limit between Margaretness and Putney Bridge.
Who can issue me with a LKE?
Since January 2022, the Port of London Authority (PLA) undertakes both first-time assessments and revalidations of the Thames Local Knowledge Endorsement (LKE), for both the MCA’s BML and the PLA’s LKE.
It should be noted that the qualification providing the holder with greater flexibility of vessels sizes and opportunities is the MCA’s LKE endorsed BML and in most cases this should be the preferred path for those considering a career on the River Thames.
What is the difference between a PLA LKE and a MCA LKE?
The MCA has the authority to endorse the MCA Boatmasters Licence with a Thames LKE. If you hold any other form of qualification, then you will need to obtain a PLA LKE. The syllabus and assessment process for both LKE’s are identical, except the PLA LKE will be examined on and restricted to the named vessels that you submit as part of your application process. The MCA LKE is linked to the BML is examined on a range of vessel sizes which provides the holder with a greater range of vessel flexibility on their qualification.
Both forms of LKE are valid for five years after which time they are subject to revalidation.
What do I need to apply for a LKE?
Before you can apply for a PLA LKE you will need to:
- Hold a commercially endorsed qualification; appropriate to the type of vessel you will be navigating.
- Ensure that the Work Record (included as part of the LKE application form) is compiled accurately, along with any testimonials you would like to supply.
Have logged a minimum of 60 days experience in the Thames Local Knowledge area, submitted on a Thames Experience log (the log can be downloaded here as a Word document, or here as a PDF file) when applying for Examination or Revalidation. To record your experience on the tidal Thames you should download and print out the Thames Experience Log, filling in your name and date of birth. Every day you are on the river within the Thames Local Knowledge area, whether you are working or as a recreational user, please contact and approach the Harbour Service Launch to ask them to sign your form so that they can witness your presence on the river. When presenting your Thames Experience Log please also have available a nationally recognised form of photographic ID. Alternatively, we are accepting GPS recording or exercise app screen shots which include; where you have been, date and time – which are attached to your Thames Experience Log.
For MCA LKE applications, you will need to:
- Hold a commercially endorsed qualification; appropriate to the type of vessel you will be navigating.
- Ensure that the Work Record (included as part of the LKE application form) is compiled accurately, along with any testimonials you would like to supply which covers the work record period within the previous five years.
In both cases, prior to the assessment being undertaken the evidence provided will be verified by our Assessors and if you have any questions, they will be happy to answer them.
What do I get?
When you have successfully passed your examination you will be issued with a Thames LKE Certificate.
For PLA LKE’s, a card will be issue to the holder and will carry limitations to the type of vessel or fleet of vessels -usually a company name- that you applied for. If you find you need to add other vessels or a company’s fleet of vessels later on, then you will need to apply for an Endorsement Amendment.
For MCA LKE’s, the Thames LKE Certificate will need to be sent to the MCA who will then t endorse the BML. Noted that the MCA will charge an admin fee.
How do I apply for an LKE?
We offer three options for achieving the LKE:
- The full area – Margaretness to Putney
- The Lower Area – Margaretness to London Bridge
- The Upper Area – London Bridge to Putney
Assessment dates are flexible, but are subject to examiners' availability. These will be conducted either at PLA offices, an employer’s premises or in exceptional circumstances via Microsoft Teams at least once a month or as requests demands, generally every Wednesday.
When applying you will need to complete an LKE Application Form, which covers the following points and must be fully completed before applying:
- Personal details (full name, date of birth, address and contact details)
- License held (including a copy of) and whether you are a member of the Thames CPD scheme
- Certificate being applied for (i.e. First-time Assessment, Revalidation, Certificate amendment, Upgrade examination or Duplicate certificate)
- Examination Availability
- For PLA LKE’s a digital passport style photo
- Area of LKE required
- Invoicing address
- We are also asking all candidates to complete an LKE Candidate Form of Authority to allow us to disclose information concerning the validity of the LKE once the examination has been successful.
What to apply for?
Assessment – if you don’t have a valid LKE, because this is your first application or your LKE has expired, then you will need to apply for this.
Revalidation – if your current certificate is due to expire, you will need to arrange for a time to be re-examined. You can be examined up to 6 months in advance of your current LKE expiry date and if successful, your new Endorsement will be valid for 5 years from the date of expiry of your old Endorsement. The PLA administers the revalidation of both PLA and MCA LKEs.
Resitting failed exam – in cases where you have failed your previous exam, you will have to apply for a new examination.
Endorsement amendment (PLA LKE only) – if you have decided to work on different vessels to those shown on your current PLA LKE certificate, this will result in you needing to inform us and applying for an amended Endorsement. We will determine if your current demonstrated knowledge is sufficient for these new vessels. If the new vessels applied for are significantly different to those for which you were originally examined then we will require you to take an Upgrade Examination. You will have to present the original certificate in exchange for a new one.
Upgrade Examination (PLA LKE only) – if you have applied for new vessels to be added to your Endorsement and we may require you to resit your PLA LKE to reflect the different vessel type or company. You will have to present the original certificate in exchange for a new one.
Duplicate certificate issue (PLA LKE only) – if you have lost your certificate or it was stolen, we will re-issue a new certificate, however there will be an administration fee.
How much will it cost?
- PLA LKE Initial Assessment – £198
- PLA Revalidation – £110
- MCA LKE Initial Assessment – £198
- MCA LKE Revalidation – Currently under review – no charge
- Resitting failed assessment – £55
- Upgrade PLA Assessment – £25
- Amended certificate issue – £28
- Duplicate certificate issue – £28
The cancellation of an assessment with less than 10 days' notice or non-attendance will be charged at 100% of the applicable fee.
Guidance on booking an LKE
To book an LKE please email [email protected] or call 01474 562205.
What happens after passing an Assessment or revalidation?
For PLA LKEs, when you have successfully passed your assessment or revalidation you will be issued with a PLA LKE Certificate and Card. The LKE will be limited to the type of vessel or fleet of vessels -usually a company name that you applied for. If you find you need to add other vessels or a company’s fleet of vessels later on, then you will need to apply for an Endorsement Amendment.
For MCA LKE revalidations, your BML will need to be endorsed – further details can be found on the MCA Website. A BML application, licence, fee, Revalidation testimonials, current ML 5 (if over 45 years of age) and proof of passing the LKE will need to be sent to:
Register of Shipping and Seamen
Cardiff CF24 5JW