Boat Ownership Transfer in Canada When Buying a Pleasure Craft

Boat Ownership Transfer in Canada

A boat ownership transfer in Canada is mandatory when you have purchased a boat and need to transfer the ownership to you. This entails transferring the pleasure craft license ( PCL) and its numbers that are used to identify the boat. 

Don’t confuse this type of document with your boat’s registration, as registration serves to show you own the legal title for the boat or can show proof of ownership. A bill of sale can also be used to show this type of proof. 

Boat Ownership Transfer in Canada

The Main Document Used for Transfer: The Pleasure Craft License

To physically transfer ownership, you need to transfer the pleasure craft license (PCL). The PCL represents the identification numbers shown on each side of a boat’s bow, which is used by Search and Rescue teams during an emergency. The numbers are contained in a database that gives rescuers access to licensed boats and their owners.

By comparison, the registration for a boat gives the boat owner legal title and allows the operator to give the vessel a unique name and official number. It also allows the owner to use the boat as collateral for a marine mortgage and to fly the Canadian flag. To register a pleasure craft, your boat must feature a propulsion motor of at least 7.5kW or 10 horsepower. 

This same rule also applies to licensing. You can obtain a license for free for 10 years and renew the license after that period. You should keep your contact information up-to-date on both your registration and license.

According to the magazine OttawaLife Magazine (OLM), a registered vessel’s name can also be used during rescues, as it is unique to the boat. The name should be clear, short, concise, and easy for search officers to remember. While the PCL is used to display numbers on the boat’s exterior, the registration number is displayed, along with the registered tonnage, inside the pleasure craft.

Boat Ownership Transfer in Canada During a Sale

If you buy or sell a pleasure craft, boat ownership transfer in Canada is fairly quick and straightforward. As a buyer of a new pleasure craft, you need to fill out an application for a pleasure craft license to perform the transfer.

To proceed with the transfer, insert “transfer ownership” in the area of the application that asks for the reason for the application. You will also need to upload specific documents to complete the transfer.

What You Need to Include

To facilitate the transfer online, you need to include the following:

  • The PCL application, completed in full
  • A copy of a valid government-issued ID for each owner that is signed
  • Proof of ownership or a copy of the boat’s bill of sale
  • A copy of a photo of the full side view of the boat

When the pleasure craft has been sold and a boat ownership transfer in Canada has been performed, you are exempt from carrying the new license up to 90 days, provided the ownership transfer is currently underway or you have not yet received the updated license. 

You also are excluded from carrying the new license if you have a copy of the transfer documents and the current license onboard. Boat owners who do not carry their license onboard are subject to a $250.00 fine.

If you cannot show proof you are the new owner of the boat, you must declare, under oath, that you own the boat and explain why you cannot provide a bill of sale or comparable proof of ownership. A form is available through Transport Canada for this purpose.

Sellers of pleasure crafts should keep a copy of the bill of sale in case there is a question later about ownership. Provide the buyer of the boat with a signed bill of sale so he or she can make the transfer.

Registering Your New Boat

Once you complete the boat ownership transfer in Canada or complete the license application for transfer, you will need to register your pleasure craft. While licensing is free and the PCL is good for 10 years, registration will cost you some money. However, it is money well spent, as it allows you to show proof you own the boat which is helpful to have if you venture outside of Canada.

According to Transport Canada, registering a boat costs $250.00. This price will give you legal title through the Canadian Register of Vessels. It also allows you to give your boat a unique name and port of registry. The cost for transferring registration is $150.00.

When registering a new boat, you will be required to choose at least 3 names for your boat in case one of the names has been taken. You will then pay your registration fee after completing the application for registration. To ensure everything is submitted correctly, you will need to show evidence of ownership and a statement of qualification for registering the vessel.

Transfer Ownership or Register a Boat Now

To ensure you fill out the proper documents for both a transfer and registration, you may want to use the services of a third-party provider. Doing so will allow you to execute a boat ownership transfer in Canada or registration of a pleasure craft fairly fast. Contact the Canadian Vessel Registry online or phone the agency at 1 (800) 419-9569 now.