An Alternative to Transport Canada to Register a Boat

register a boat

The boating lifestyle is all about freedom. The wind in your hair, the warm Canadian sun on your skin, and the smiles and laughter of your passengers filling your boat. Before you untie from the dock and cruise off into the horizon, though, you may want to learn what is needed to register a boat.

You probably thought the hard part was over when you received the keys to your new vessel. After months, perhaps years of saving money, doing your research and scouring online and print listings, you had finally found the boat was right for you. You negotiated with the seller, arranged to meet, a fee was exchanged, and you hitched it up to your trailer ready to hit the water.

The simple reality is, however, like any significant purchase, buying a boat can come with a heap of paperwork. While all vessel documentation serves necessary purposes, there is maybe none more important and critical to the operation of your vessel as the registration. Read on to learn more about what a Canadian vessel registration entails, as well as the available avenues for obtaining yours.

register a boat

What Does It Mean to Register a Boat?

If you are new to the world of boat ownership, much of the process can be a learning experience. Beyond learning how to operate and maintain your new vessel, you will quickly discover that there is a sizable amount of paperwork to navigate.

If you are purchasing a motorized vessel with a horsepower greater than 10, you will first want to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). You can think of your PCOC as a driver’s license for your boat. Just like acquiring a driver’s license, getting your PCOC calls for taking an educational course and passing a test to prove your competency. 

In order to operate your vessel on Canada’s bountiful waters, you will need to obtain a pleasure craft license. This license can be acquired free of charge from the Canadian government and is good for 10 years. What qualifies as a pleasure craft? As its name would suggest, pretty much any boat used for recreational or living purposes. A pleasure craft license gives your vessel a unique identification number that will be affixed to the side of your boat, rendering it easier to find in the event that it goes missing or is stolen.

Though the terminology can get confusing, a boating license, a boat license, and vessel registration are three very different things. Registering your vessel with Transport Canada is required for all boats used for commercial purposes, as well as watercraft that will be carrying a marine mortgage or sailing on international waters while flying the Canadian flag. 

Even if you are not required to register your vessel, it does have benefits that are available to all Canadian boaters. For one, you will receive a completely unique name for your vessel, separating you from the rest of the boats in your marina. Placing your boat in the Canadian Vessel Registry can also prove helpful in a potential search and rescue situation.

Are You Looking to Import a Vessel into Canada?

Purchasing or selling a vessel from a fellow Canadian comes with a fair amount of bureaucratic leg work. But what if you are looking to import a vessel into the country? Not surprisingly, there is additional paperwork that must be completed for this process.

When you reach the border checkpoint, you will need to present some information to Canadian customs agents. You will have to show proof of ownership, as well as any titles, licenses, or liens against the vessel. The cost of your boat’s survey, the bill of sale, and the taxes paid will also need to be provided in order to import your vessel. The province to which you will be moving your boat too will have its own tax requirements to satisfy as well.

Be prepared to explain how you came into ownership of your boat, and as you probably realize, you should be truthful about this to avoid any possible legal issues. Once your boat is licensed and registered, it is officially a Canadian vessel.

Ways to Register Your New Boat

Now that you know a bit about importing and registering a boat in Canada, you are probably wondering how to go about doing it. In truth, there are a couple of ways you can accomplish this. 

The first pathway to registering your vessel is to work directly with Transport Canada. This government agency in charge of maintaining the Canadian Vessel Registry can provide you with the necessary forms to complete. Once you have filled out your application, you will then need to assemble some supporting documentation, including the bill of sale and photographs of all four sides of your vessel. Once everything has been gathered, you can then mail it to the appropriate agency location.

If that all sounds like a lot of rigamarole and you are simply too busy, there is a simpler way. By working with a private service such as the Canadian Vessel Registry Center, you can prepare your application in a matter of minutes. Using our SSL-encrypted portal and simple online forms, you can upload your documents and file your application in a prompt and complete manner. Contact one of our service representatives today to learn how to register a boat, or inquire about our many other services.