Canada Boat Registration/Canadian Pleasure License: Which is Right for You?

“Should I get Canada boat registration or should I get a Canadian pleasure license?” “I know what I want to use my boat for, but I’m not sure which I should get?” Of all of the questions that we’re asked by clients at the National Vessel Registry Center Corp., this may be among the most common. For so many of us who have grown up on Canadian waters or just love being on the water, every time we step onto a boat, it’s a pleasure. That said, there are clear regulations separating registration from a pleasure craft license. 

So, What is a Pleasure Craft? 

Simply put, it’s a vessel that you’re only going to use for pleasure and not to make money. So, a pleasure craft is one that you’ll take family and friends out on to have a good time. It’s not a vessel that you’ll use to transport goods and people for money, nor will you use it for commercial fishing (i.e. you catch the fish and then sell them to someone). To be clear, “a friend giving you some gas money” does not change your pleasure craft into a commercial one. 

Why is a Pleasure Craft License Important? 

The truth is that a pleasure craft license (or PCL) gives you a unique license number. This unique number is a form of identification for the vessel. That’s important for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it makes it so, so much easier for search and rescue personnel to be able to get the information they need about you and your vessel when every second counts in an emergency. A PCL is more important than most folks realize. 

Once I’ve Received a Pleasure Craft License, Then What? 

The good news is that you won’t have to worry about renewing it for some time. You have the next ten years. There are some things you have to keep in mind before you take your boat out on the water. Specifically, you need to have your pleasure craft license with you at all times when on board. Also, you must have your PCL number on both sides of your vessel’s bow in a visible place above the waterline. Moreover, the colors of the number must contrast with that of the vessel’s paint, so that they’re easy to see. 

Canada Boat Registration

The Other Option: Canada Boat Registration

That said, there are plenty of folks who come to our site because they’re going to use their vessel in a commercial capacity and not just to have fun. Should that be the case, then, in most cases, the right course of action will be to register the vessel. Some may find that they’re best served by registering it with the Canadian Vessel Registry, whereas others will find their best fit by going into the Small Vessel Register. If you have other questions or want to speak to a representative, call us at (800) 419-9569.