Changing the Name of a Boat: Dos and Don’ts

If you have spent any time around sailors or other seafaring individuals, you may be familiar with the superstitions that surround changing the name of a boat. It is said that it is bad luck to switch out the moniker on a vessel, and as such, doing so should be avoided at all costs. Of course, if you are not the superstitious type, you may have valid reasons for changing the name of your boat. Maybe a change in your life has come up to where the name no longer fits? Or, perhaps you have bought a previously owned vessel and would like to put your own stamp on it. In truth, there are a multitude of reasons why someone might change the name of their boat.

changing the name of a boat

Back luck aside, however, there are some “don’ts” that you would be wise to adhere to when changing the name of a Canadian vessel. As this process is more than merely a ceremonial one–there is a fair amount of paperwork involved–you will want to make sure that you rename your boat in a way that is compliant with Transport Canada.

Do: Have the Right Paperwork in Order

If your vessel is registered with Transport Canada, there is a formal process to complete when changing the name of your boat. Which types of vessels are commonly registered? Any boat used for commercial purposes, traveling abroad under the Canadian flag, or carrying a marine mortgage must be registered–though vessel registration is available to all.

You will need to complete a Form 13 – Application for Change of Name of Vessel and/or Transfer of Port of Registry. This document will ask you to choose three potential names, as well as prompt you for some basic information about you and your boat. Once completed, you can submit this document to Transport Canada for processing.

Don’t: Choose a Common Name

If you are renaming your boat, you probably want to stand out from the crowd. While that may be a preference, if your boat is registered, it is also a requirement. Transport Canada requires that all boats in the national vessel registry feature unique names. That is why your Form 13 will ask for three naming options–if your first or second choice is taken, you are going to want a fallback.

Do: Have a Renaming Ceremony

Even if you do not believe in bad omens, a renaming ceremony can provide a fun get-together for you and your friends and family. Be sure to bring plenty of champagne, including a bottle to crack on the ship, as this will provide good fortune, per Greek mythology.

Don’t: Leave Traces of Your Boats Previous Name

Once your new name has been officially assigned by Transport Canada, you are going to want to affix it to your boat’s exterior. Additionally, you will want to thoroughly remove any traces of your boat’s previous identity. Not only is this legally required in order to avoid any confusion, it also affords you a fresh start. You can purchase new signage or t-shirts featuring the new name of your boat, allowing you to forge ahead and create new, lasting memories.

Do: Work with the National Vessel Registry Center

At the National Vessel Registry Center, we are a private service that can help you process your Form 13 online. Want to avoid long lines at the post office? We have got you covered. Take a moment to explore our host of easy-to-use web forms, or contact us today for additional information.