We understand that the registration process for vessels can be confusing, which is why we always make an effort to answer your questions and address your doubts. Here we answer some frequently asked questions about Transport Canada boat registration so that you can move forward without issue.
Canadian vessel documentation, as you might be aware, is the certification that you receive upon registering your vessel with the respective government transportation agency. In the case of Canada, these are registered with Transport Canada, which oversees both personal and business vehicles owned by Canadian citizens and residents. This includes vessels such as boats, ships, and yachts, all of which had regulations attached to them to some degree or another. These specific guidelines are all outlined in the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Due to the usual complications attached to navigating these official regulations, we have established a reliable information network to make the process of Canadian vessel documentation easier for you
Vessels here need specific Canadian vessel documentation in order to operate in national waters, similarly to how you need to have your car’s documents in order if you wish to drive it. However, not every vessel requires documentation. According to the regulations set forth by Transport Canada, commercial vessels need to be registered with them in order to be allowed to operate accordingly. Commercial vessels include:
Commercial fishing boats
Fish processing vessels
Mobile offshore drilling units
Oil recovery boats
Offshore supply vessels
Public freight vessels
If your boat can be categorised above, you will need to get Canadian vessel registration with Transport Canada.
The short answer is yes, if used for one of the commercial purposes outlined above, as well as other eligible ones, your vessel must have official documentation for a Canadian vessel with Transport Canada documentation. However, if you have a recreational vessel, then it doesn’t necessarily need to be registered. Instead, you can get a pleasure craft licence, which is a different process altogether. The forms for either process can be found here on our website.
Net tonnage is a measure of a vessel’s volume, which should not be confused with the vessel’s weight, which may also be expressed in tons. While you should be able to access this data in the manufacturer’s information or through a gross tonnage calculator, you can also calculate an estimate yourself. A helpful rule of thumb is that most vessels that measure more than 25 feet in length will measure at least five net tons or more.
Exempt vessels, which aren’t required to get documentation, are those that are not used for commercial purposes. This applies to vessels of all sizes. A lot of people think that if a certain commercial vessel falls under a certain gross tonnage, then it doesn’t have to be registered. However, this isn’t quite right. There is a specific type of registration meant for small vessels, which you can find under the respective category here on the National Vessel Registry Center Corp website. If your vessel is used for leisure purposes, then it doesn’t have to be registered. In those cases, you can look instead into the pleasure craft licence process.
Yes, there are different types of documentation that are reliant on the specific type of vessel in question. For commercial vessels, you have regular vessel documentation and small vessel documentation, depending, of course, on the size of the boat in question. If the vessel is not used for commercial purposes, then you don’t have to register it but you might want to get the corresponding pleasure craft license. Our team can help you with either application.
The first requirement when it comes to registering a vessel is a name. Giving a vessel a name is something that might end up seeming trivial or even silly. However, the vessel’s name is for its standing before the government to be properly filed and documented under a definite entity. No two vessels, however, can have the same name, which is why part of the application process will be proving three different names in case one of them is taken.
Once you’ve got that covered, you will have to provide thorough information about the vessel itself, such as its measurements, tonnage, and engine specs. This step might seem like a lot of work given all the different highly specific information that you will need to provide, but it doesn’t have to be that complex. Most of these key pieces of information about the vessel will be factory specifications that you will most likely have easy access to. If you have questions about some of the data asked for in the registration form, you can contact your vessel’s manufacturer.
Establishing ownership of a vessel is not a difficult task, but it does call for some attention to detail in regards to getting the right documents in order. You can either establish ownership with the bill of sale made to your name or, in the case of custom-made vessels, a letter from the manufacturer. Either one of these should be enough to prove ownership when submitting registration to Transport Canada.
Citizenship is established by verifying the applicant’s national identification. This applies to individuals, but also to corporations, partnerships, and other entities capable of holding legal title may be deemed citizens for documentation purposes. Corporations must be registered in a province or Canada in order for their vessels to be registered here.
With certain vessels that were not purchased from a retailer but rather manufactured on commission or self-built by the registering entity, it will be necessary that, in lieu of a bill of sale, build evidence is provided to account for the vessel in question. A document from the manufacturer that states the details of the build order and purchase, the stats of the vessel, and other relevant information, will be key in the registration process.
Both the vessel name and its hailing port need to be properly displayed on the exterior part of the hull in order for it to be easily seen by both authorities and portuary employees. This is to ensure easy identification, documentation, and similar Transport Canada needs.
Once you have your vessel registration, it will be time to mark it accordingly. The Canada Shipping Act of 2001 details that boats need to be labelled according to certain guidelines. You will have to mark the vessel with its name and port of registry on the exterior part of the hull in a way that makes both things easily visible and legible. In the case of commercial vessels, the name must be marked on each bow, and the port of registry and name must be marked on the stern. Remember that the information must always be clearly visible and permanently affixed in some manner.
If you are changing either the name, the hailing port, or the address of your vessel, you will have to submit the corresponding form to us via our website. If you need to change either the name or the hailing port, the same form will suffice. Be sure to only change the information you intend to change if you’re only modifying either piece of information and not the other.
All forms necessary to submit documentation to Transport Canada are available here on our platform for your convenience. All you need to do is fill out the forms you need, attach the relevant files, and pay the application fee. You can take care of all the documentation paperwork without leaving our website.
No, not at all. It used to be the case that applications for the Canadian Vessel Registry had to be physically mailed. However, we at the National Vessel Registry Center Corp have made it so that you can submit your application online via our secure platform. Just fill out the corresponding application form, attach the relevant documents, and pay for the processing fee. That’s how easy it is.
The registry has a boat history check database that can be accessed, but it’s not as easy as simply putting in a serial number on a query bar. You will need to submit a request for transcripts in order to receive the title information associated with this particular serial number. This includes all the relevant information about the vessel throughout current and previous ownerships, as well as potential debts, mortgages, and financial issues that may be attached to it.
A certification of documentation will be valid for three years from the date of registration. Thirty days before the expiration date, you will receive a notice for renewal that you will have to submit and update if necessary. Be sure to submit it with enough time for the renewal to be processed before the expiration date.
If you lost your certificate of documentation, then you will need to request an official replacement from Transport Canada. This is very important, since without an official copy of your registration, you can’t operate your vessel in Canadian waters. If you’d like to avoid this, use the replacement form here on our website to request your replacement. Within a few weeks, you should receive a new certificate that gets you on your way. However, if what you need to do is renew a certificate that has expired, then you won’t need a replacement but rather a renewal, which is a different process altogether.
No, there is no reason for you to send back the old certificate when renewing it. In fact, you shouldn’t do this, since you don’t want to be without an official certificate, even if it’s just for a few days. Simply submit the forms for your Transport Canada pleasure craft licence renewal or your vessel registration renewal with the corresponding material. Keep the original certificate at hand for future reference.
No, the schedule is very specific for renewal of vessel documentation. You need to submit the renewal form after you receive the notification with the corresponding paperwork. Remember you have to return this within thirty days ahead of the expiration date so that the process is in order prior to this.
If you need to notify Transport Canada of a change of address in your registration, whether or not this also includes a hailing port change, you will need to submit the corresponding form, which you can easily do through our website. Be sure to only change the relevant information and to keep everything else intact in order to not create any confusions with the paperwork.
If you are in a hurry in regards to your documentation processing, don’t worry. You can expedite the process and request priority handling in order to rush it and get it sooner than usual. Still, try to give yourself some time to buffer the process because even the rush processing of priority handling can’t do miracles.
You may upload documents by navigating to the DOCUMENT UPLOAD page, by Facsimile at 1 (800) 419-9569, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
No, we currently don’t offer a walk in service. You may however submit your registry application(s) using our secure online portal, or you may reach us at 1 (800) 419-9569
You will be required to input your credit card information at the end of each form. If you are having difficulties with your credit card, a documentation processor will contact you.
In Canada, all non-pleasure vessels powered by an engine of 10hp (7.5kw) or more and commercial river rafts must be registered with Transport Canada’s Canadian Register of Vessels or Small Vessel Register (Commercial).
A Certificate of Registry is valid for three (3) years. A Certificate of Registry will be issued to the owner or the authorized representative 30 days before it expires. To ensure that your Certificate of Registry remains valid, you must report any change(s) to the information shown on the Certificate of Registry, including a change of address, in writing, within 30 days of having made the changes. If you do not, your registration may be suspended or canceled. Anyone operating a vessel with an invalid document violates the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and is liable to prosecution.
Tonnage is not about the weight. It is a measurement of the vessel’s internal volume. Tonnage refers to the overall volume of a vessel.
Your Certificate of Registry is not valid until you have your vessel marked according to requirements noted on the back of your Certificate of Registry:Name and Port of Registry:For pleasure craft and air cushion vehicles, both the name and port of registry must be marked together on a clearly visible exterior part of the hull.
For commercial vessels, the vessel name must be marked on each bow and the vessel name and port of the registry must be marked on the stern. If the vessel has a square bow, the name may be marked on a clearly visible exterior part of the bow. You may make the markings by any means and materials that result in durable markings. All must be at least 10 cm in height, made in clearly legible letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals
Registered tonnage and official number:Both the official number and registered tonnage shown on the Certificate of Registry must be marked in block-type Arabic numerals at least 4 cm high on a clearly visible interior structural part of the hull. Place the abbreviation:“N.R.T.” before the registered tonnage
“O.N.” before the official numberNote: Make sure these numbers are permanently affixed so that changes to, and attempts to remove or replace them would be obvious and cause some scarring or damage to the surrounding hull area.
For registration purposes, the property in a vessel is made up of 64 indivisible shares. Up to five people may register as joint owners of all 64 shares; and are considered as one unit, although all of their names are listed in the Canadian Register of Vessels.
You will need to file a transfer on death. You may do so by navigating to the TRANSFER ON DEATH page.
You may report a change of ownership by navigating to the TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP page.
You may request a replacement certificate by navigating to the REPLACEMENT CERTIFICATE page.
“Bare-boat Charter” means a vessel charter agreement under which the character has complete possession and control of the vessel, including the right to appoint its master and crew.Bare-boat Charter (IN)A vessel registered in a foreign country that is bare-boat chartered exclusively to a qualified person may be listed as a bare-boat chartered vessel if, for the duration of the charter, the registration is suspended in respect of the right to fly the flag of that country. You may submit your application by navigating to the BARE-BOAT CHARTERED VESSELS page.
Bare-boat Charter (OUT)A vessel registered in Canada applying for bare-boat charter will lose its right to fly the Canadian flag while it remains on the registry of a foreign country as a bare-boat chartered vessel.
The name of a vessel is not available until the Registry is officially closed.
The authorized representative has the overall responsibility for safety of the vessel. Even though not always on board, the authorized representative must ensure that the vessel’s machinery and equipment meet the requirements of the Act and Regulations.The authorized representative is also responsible for notifying Vessel Registration should any changes be made to the vessel, including alterations, changes in address or removal from service, as per section 58 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
Vessels (dinghy or zodiac, etc.) that are considered part of the lifesaving equipment of the registered vessel (not used for any purpose other than evacuation) do not have to be registered but should be marked “TENDER TO [NAME AND OFFICIAL NUMBER OF THE REGISTERED VESSEL]”. If it is not part of the lifesaving equipment, then it must either be licensed or registered separately.
A vessel whose number begins with the letter “C” (e.g. C00000BC) is a small commercial vessel, which was either licensed prior to July 1, 2007, or registered as of July 1, 2007 in the Small Vessel Registered.
A vessel whose number begins with a number, and/or a letter (e.g., 32E 00000 or BC 00000) is a licensed pleasure craft.
You may close the registry of your vessel by navigating to the DELETION page.
A Certificate of Registry should not be laminated. For some authorities, laminating a certificate would invalidate it as an official document. Once a documenta has been laminated, it is no longer available for definitive review to determine its validity or authenticity. It is recommended to keep the Certificate in a plastic bag, pouch, etc. to protect it.
A mortgage is a legal document that creates a security for a loan or other financial consideration, whereby, the registered vessel or share or a share of it is used as security. The person using the vessel as security and receiving the loan is called the mortgagor. The person taking the vessel as security and usually giving the loan is called the mortgagee.Only vessels registered in the Canadian Registry of Vessels can have mortgages recorded against them.
Registration is a title system for vessel ownership. It is similar to land title registry. Registration allows for name approval and mortgage registration except in the case of a vessel registered in the Small Vessel Register. Vessels under construction: A vessel that is about to be built or that is under construction in Canada may be temporarily recorded in the Register as a vessel being built in Canada. While not required by law, pleasure craft owners may choose to register their vessels.
This registry applies to vessels of all types and sizes including pleasure and commercial. This type of registration is required for: -Vessels more than 15 gross tonnes used for commercial purposes, including government-owned vessels -Vessels that require marine mortgages -If you are planning to travel outside of Canada for extended periods of timeYou may also choose to register your pleasure craft in the Canadian Register of Vessels if you wish to have an approved name and port of registry for your vessel or show proof of ownership.
This registry only applies to commercial (non-pleasure) vessels that are 15 gross tons or less. This type of registration is required for: Vessels less than or equal to 15 gross tonnes used for commercial purposes with propulsion motors of 10 horsepower (7.5kW) or more (if unsure of tonnage, check this explanation of tonnage measurements) commercial river rafts government-owned vessels with propulsion motors of 10 horsepower (7.5kW) or more This type of registration is not required if: Your vessel does not or will not have a mortgage You do not wish to register an “official” name You don’t intend to travel outside of Canada.
A pleasure craft is a vessel that is used for recreation and does not carry passengers. It is a vessel of a prescribed class under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. NOTE: For the purposes of this definition, a “passenger” is a person who has paid a fee to be transported in a commercial vessel. A “guest” does not need to pay a fee.
Yes, if your vessel is over 10 hp and it has not been registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels. A pleasure craft licence provides a unique identification number – commonly referred to as the “licence number” – that you must display on your recreational vessel, as required under the Small Vessel Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. This licence number helps law-enforcement and search and rescue officials trace a pleasure craft to its owner.
There is a fine of $250 if you are found to be operating a vessel without a valid licence. However, if you decided to register your vessel instead of licensing it, there is no fine.
No, your vessel may be Registered or it may be Licenced. However, it cannot be both.
Your Pleasure Craft Licence number must be displayed on each side of the bow of your vessel, above the waterline, in block characters that are at least 7.5 centimetres (3 inches) high and in a colour that contrasts with the colour of the bow.
For a vessel built in Canada, provide: Builder’s Certificate If the vessel was built for you (the applicant), you must provide the Builder’s Certificate. If you purchased the vessel, you must provide the builder’s certificate and any intervening Bill(s) of Sale demonstrating complete sequence of title. For a foreign-built vessel, provide: Either the notarized Bill of Sale from the last foreign owner to you; or if you are not the first Canadian owner, all Bills of Sale showing the sequence of title up to you; and Proof of closing the vessel’s foreign registry, free and clear of all encumbrances, with a “Deletion Certificate”.