French Waterway Authority
(Voies Navigables de France)

Every boat over five metres or with a motor of more than 9.9 hp (7.29 kW) must have a licence or vignette. Up to date prices can be obtained from the VNF (see useful addresses). The fee is calculated according to the surface area of the boat, and the length of time of your stay in the canals.

Big changes have taken place regarding the length of time for which a licences can be obtained, they are now:

  1. a specific single day.
  2. 3 days
  3. ‘vacance vignette’for 30 or 16 days with valid start and finish dates. The days must be consecutive. This replaces the old 30 days of travel certificate which could be non-consecutive and relied upon the honesty of the boat’s crew.
  4. for three months
  5. ‘annee vignette’ for unconditional access to the waterways in one calendar year
  6. for a holiday of up to 16 consecutive days.

They can be obtained, from centres which are marked on the Navicarte/Fluviacarte/Guide Vagnon, and by post or over the counter from any of the VNF offices. They are now also available on line from www.vnf.fr. There is an almost invisible button on the top right of the site which allows you to view the site in English, but there is some French needed, e.g. names of months.

Licences may be inspected at Ports of Registration along the way. You will be given, or will print off on line, a sticker to display on the front of the boat on the starboard side.

Every year the VNF institutes a programme of repairs and upgrading to the locks. The dates of these, which involve lock closures, are given in a list of Chomages (literally "Unemployment") which is also available from the VNF site, every spring. It is important to obtain this list before planning your year's cruising. It can also be obtained by post, or in person when you buy your licence.

The address of the VNF can be found under useful addresses and websites.

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