A Quick Guide to Registering Your Canadian Recreational Boat

Canadian Recreational Boat

Are you looking forward to sailing or boating along Canada’s breathtaking rivers, lakes, and coastlines? If so, you also need to follow Transport Canada laws – laws that cover the marine operation of recreational crafts and boats.

People love boating journeys in Canada, and why wouldn’t they? Canada is a haven of firs, beautiful vistas, and opportunities for outdoor discoveries.

Therefore, it is well worth the effort of registering or licensing a boat. Plus, it’s part of Canadian law. You can pay a $250 fine if you don’t register or license your craft.

Moreover, registration gives you some perks as an owner of a pleasure boat. If your boat is stolen, for example, it makes it easier for authorities to look for it and get it back. You can also give your boat a name, which can help rescuers locate your boat more easily during an emergency. 

And if you’re involved in a boating accident, registration can help prove that your boat is seaworthy – something almost as good as insurance.

So. If you’re planning on sailing the waterways in Canada make sure you do yourself a favor and register your vessel first. It can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Steps for Registering a Canadian Recreational Boat

Understanding and following the rules for registering a Canadian recreational boat not only ensures your safety but also protects Canada’s navigable waters. Below is a basic and quick overview of the process.

1. Determine Registration Requirements

Before diving into the details of registering your Canadian recreational boat, it’s important to note that not all vessels require registration. 

Smaller boats with motors less than 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) do not need to be registered or licensed However if your boat has a motor that is 10 horsepower or higher, or one that is used in commercial activities, it must be registered through Transport Canada.

2. Choose Between Licensing and Registration

As a Canadian boat owner, you have two options: a pleasure craft license or vessel registration. A pleasure craft license supports recreational boating and allows you to use your boat on Canadian waterways. A vessel registration, as noted, is designed for both recreational boats and larger commercial vessels and ships.

A pleasure craft license is free of charge and valid for ten years, while a vessel registration involves payment for applying and renewal every three years. Vessel registration supports proof of ownership and allows you to fly the Canadian flag – something that is important when sailing in international waters.

While you’ll receive a license number for licensing purposes, registration requires that you place your boat’s name on the boat’s exterior and the tonnage and registration number inside the boat. In either case, your boat will be officially identified per government marine regulations.

3. Prepare the Required Documents

Once you have determined whether you want or need a pleasure craft license or vessel registration, it’s time to gather the necessary documents and information.

For a pleasure craft license, you’ll require:

  • Proof of ownership (e.g., bill of sale or invoice)
  • Personal identification (e.g., driver’s license or passport)
  • Completed Pleasure Craft License Application Form 

For vessel registration gather the following materials:

  • Proof of ownership (with detailed information on the boat builder and make and model of your vessel.)
  • Personal identification
  • Completed Application for Registry Form 
  • Fee payment 

Knowing the above steps provides the basis for applying and registering online and keeps you updated when operating a recreational vessel in Canada.

4. Submit Your Application

Depending on your choice of license or registration, you can choose to submit your paperwork in one of various ways – typically by mail or digitally. If you go through the Canadian Vessel Registry, you can expedite the process more quickly and keep an ongoing record of the submitted documents.

Canadian Recreational Boat

5. Receive Your Licence or Registration Information

Once your application has been processed and approved, you will either receive a pleasure craft license number (to be displayed on both sides of the hull) or an official certificate of registry for registered vessels. Remember to keep these documents handy while operating your boat and sailing the Canadian waterways.

If you register your boat, you can give it a name – a name that is prominently displayed on a pleasure boat, including its home port of call. You’ll also need to display your boat’s registration number.

The registration number, along with validation decals, must be shown by painting them or applying a decal to either side of the forward half of your boat. The number must read left to right on each side of the boat’s bow.

If you obtain a license number, you need to show the number on the boat’s bow, above the waterline on each side. Display the number as far as you can forward so it’s easy to read. Use block letters that are at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall. Make sure they contrast well with the background of the boat and its color.

Contact the Canadian Vessel Registry and Begin Sailing Right Away

By understanding the rules for registering a Canadian recreational boat and following the necessary steps, you can ensure a safe and compliant journey on Canada’s waters. Happy boating! Remain both legal and safe! Start your licensing or registration journey today.