A Watercraft License in Canada: Know the Facts

Before you take your new boat on the water, there are some things you should take care of first. To get started, you should thoroughly clean your boat. Not only does this make for a better experience for your passengers, but it can help keep you safe on the water as well. You should also make sure your maintenance is up to date. How’s your oil? Do you have enough gas? Is the life jacket supply adequate? By going through a quick checklist, you enjoy a fun, safe day out on the water. Another important item to check is your watercraft license for Canada. This piece of paper ensures that you are able to legally operate your boat on Canadian waters, so it should always be with you.

Of course, you may be wondering, how do you know if you need a license? Is registration the same thing? What about obtaining a boating license? These are all valid questions, and if you are a novice to boating, it stands to reason that you are a bit in the dark. Fortunately, at the National Vessel Registry Center, we have the answers you need.

Who Needs a Watercraft License in Canada?

As you may be able to guess, not every boat in Canada will require a license. A good rule of thumb, however, is that if a boat is motorized, it will likely need some documentation. Most commonly, this situation calls for a Pleasure Craft License (PCL), which as its name suggests, applies to vessels used for leisure purposes. In Canada, any boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or more will require a PCL–though any boat can be issued one.

To get your PCL, you will need to complete an application with Transport Canada. Accompanying this application should be proof of ownership and a full side-view image of your boat. Once you receive your PCL, you will be assigned a registration number, which you should then affix to both sides of your bow in a location that is clearly above the waterline. 

PCOCs and Vessel Registrations

A boating license, not unlike a driver’s license, demonstrates a basic level of competency for boat operation. Officially called a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), this can be obtained after taking a brief educational class and passing an exam. PCOCs are required for most forms of motorized vessels.

Vessel registration applies to commercial vessels, boats with marine mortgages, and ships traveling internationally under the Canadian flag. With a vessel registration, a wholly unique name is issued, along with an official number. To enter your vessel into the national registry, there is an application to complete and a smattering of supplemental materials to provide.

 watercraft license in Canada

Get Your Documents Online with Our Help

Whether you need a PCL, vessel registration, or a host of other documents, we can help. We are a private service that specializes in helping Canadian boat owners obtain their documentation online. To learn more, take a moment or two to browse our site, or contact us by phone or email today.