Boat Registration with Not-for-Profit Services


Do you oversee a non-profit organization? Maybe you’re the owner of a camp or yacht club. If you need to do a boat registration, you may be confused about how to register it. Is the boat defined as a non-pleasure craft or a pleasure craft? How do you distinguish between the two categories with respect to your operations?

If you manage a non-profit and operate a boat to serve the public, it’s considered a non-pleasure vessel for non-profit boat registration purposes. The key here lies in the boat’s exact use. If the boat provides a service–even though it’s non-paying–it is considered “commercial” for registration purposes.

Non-Profit Boat Registration – Some Examples

Let’s look at a few examples.

For instance, you may use a volunteer on the weekends to provide sightseeing free of charge. Or, your organization may operate a floating museum – a ship that goes from place to place and provides tours to the public.

The above examples of tours, although not profit-driven, require that the boat be registered as a non-pleasure craft. The boat is used as a service by the non-profit.

Yacht Club Boat Registrations

 A yacht club might register a boat as a non-pleasure craft or pleasure craft. Again, it needs to provide a service to be registered as a commercial vessel. If the boat is used for joint recreation purposes, you can register it as a pleasure craft.

Let’s look at some examples.

Yacht Club Boats Used for Recreation or Pleasure

Your yacht club’s boat falls under the pleasure craft category if it follows the criteria below.

  • The boat is totally used for the members’ recreational use.
  • Charges levied for the boat are part of the club’s funds and applied for the club’s general boating activities.
  • Members of the yacht club are co-owners.

A vessel used at a yacht club’s recreational event for lifeguarding and safety is considered a pleasure craft.  When the vessel is used for a joint recreational activity, such as fishing, it is also considered a pleasure craft.

Yacht Club Boat Registration for Non-Pleasure 

If the club’s yacht is used to train members and non-members for a fee, then the boat should be registered as a non-pleasure craft. The same holds true if the boat is solely used for any fee-based training and not used for recreation.

Registering Boats Used at Camps

If you own a camp and use a boat that is used for the purpose of recreation, you can safely assume that the boat should be registered as a pleasure craft. 

Non-Pleasure Craft Registrations

However, you need to register your boat as a non-pleasure boat if a boating instructor is using the boat for training – showing students how to operate the boat for recreation. Either the instructor is in charge of the vessel or owns the boat and is using the watercraft for business purposes.

Pleasure Craft Registrations 

Boats that are considered pleasure crafts at camps must meet the following criteria:

  • The boat must be owned by the camp or on its behalf.
  • The boat is only used for the recreational needs of the camper and is not used as a major means of transporting items or people
  • Charges that are levied are paid in camp fees and applied toward camp attendance

A Quick Overview of Registration Requirements

Whenever you’re deciding on whether a boat is a non-pleasure vessel or a pleasure craft, you need to direct your attention to the boat’s focus. If it is totally recreational in nature, it’s typically considered a pleasure craft. If the boat provides a service to the public, then it generally falls under the definition of a non-pleasure craft.


Register Your Boat on the Canadian Vessel Registry Website

Once you determine the main use of your boat, you need to register it right away. Your go-to source for boat compliance is the Canadian Vessel Registry. Whether you need to fill out a form for a non-profit boat registration or you’re registering a yacht club boat, you can find what you need online. Visit the Canadian Vessel Registry to stay current with your boat’s use and status.