Light dues are levied on most commercial vessels calling at ports in the British Isles and paid in to the General Lighthouse Fund (GLF), which is under the stewardship of the UK's Department for Transport and is used to finance the lighthouse services provided by the three General Lighthouse Authorities that cover all of the British Isles:
- Trinity House for England, Wales, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands
- Northern Lighthouse Board for Scotland and the Isle of Man
- Commissioners of Irish Lights for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
The main principles of the light dues system are:
- The UK's Department for Transport sets the level of light dues, which is reviewed annually, taking advice from the General Lighthouse Authorities and representatives of the shipping industry.
- In most cases, the rate charged is based on the net registered tonnage of the vessel; the current charge is 40 pence per net registered ton.
- There is a cap on the charge which limits the cost incurred by vessels regularly docking in the UK (such as cross-Channel passenger ferries); currently the maximum charge is £16,000 per voyage, and each vessel is charged for a maximum of nine voyages per annum.
- Tugs and fishing vessels make an annual payment based on the registered length of the vessel.
Increasing automation of aids to navigation in the British Isles has seen the rate of Light Dues fall in real terms over recent years. The first increase in Light Dues for twenty years occurred in 2009; the current administration announced in 2010 that there would be no further increases for at least the next three years. The current administration has also reached agreement with the Irish government that will see aids to navigation off the coast of the Republic of Ireland wholly funded from domestic sources there by 2015-16.
- "Funding". Trinity House. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- "Government support for the maritime industry and light dues update". Department for Transport. 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- "UK and Irish Ministers agree reform for funding of Irish Lights". Department for Transport. 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2011-11-16.