A 2022 Guide on Licensing a Boat in Ontario

Are you thinking about purchasing your very own boat? Maybe it has been a lifelong dream to own your own vessel, guaranteeing you the freedom to head out on the water whenever you want? If so, you are not alone. Thousands of Canadians make use of our country’s ample lakes and waterways with their recreational vessels every year, creating lasting memories with their friends and family. Before you finalize a purchase of a boat of your own, however, you may want to learn more about licensing a boat in Ontario

If you are close to buying a boat, you are probably no stranger to due diligence and research. After all, you had to figure out which type of boat was right for you and how much of a budget you had to spend. You also had to locate a seller and negotiate a fair price. One of the final stops in this transactional journey is making sure that all of the necessary paperwork has been completed. Read on to learn more about this process.

Getting Started – Do You Need a License?

Not every boat used on Ontario’s bountiful waters will require a license. Generally speaking, however, most motorized vessels will. Specifically, any boat with an engine featuring a horsepower of 10 or more will require a Pleasure Craft License (PCL). You can obtain your PCL through Service Canada, and once issued, it will be valid for a period of 10 years, after which you will need to apply for a renewal.

Your PCL will also assign the registration numbers that you will be required to affix to the side of your boat. This is a legal requirement that allows for the easy identification of your vessel by authorities or search and rescue personnel. 

 licensing a boat in ontario

While their names are similar, a Pleasure Craft License and a boating license are two different pieces of documentation. A boating license–officially called a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)–is a document that demonstrates your competency in operating a motorized vessel. You can obtain a PCOC by completing an educational course and passing the requisite exam.

Registering Your Vessel

While a PCL will satisfy the legal requirements for most recreational boaters, vessel registration may be necessary for others. Your boat must be entered in the Small Vessel Registry if it is used for commercial purposes, carries a marine mortgage, or will be traveling on international waters under the Canadian flag.

You can register your vessel by submitting paperwork and images of all four sides of your boat to Transport Canada. Once registered, your boat will be assigned a completely unique name of your choosing, and you will not need to obtain or renew a PCL. While some are required to register their vessel, this service is available to all boat owners.

Get Help Licensing a Boat in Ontario Online

If you are interested in licensing or registering your boat, let us help you do it online. At the National Vessel Registry Center, we feature easy-to-fill online forms for all of your vessel documentation needs. Contact us today by phone or email, or visit our FAQs page to learn more.