How Long Does it Take to Get an Ontario Boating License?

Ontario Boating License

One of the main reasons boating is so popular in Canada comes down to its simplicity. With a boat and a body of water, you can venture out into nature and spend a leisurely afternoon with your friends, family, or loved ones. Canada also has no shortage of beautiful places where you can launch your vessel. Ontario, in particular, is something of a boater’s paradise–and for good reason. Home to more than 250,000 lakes, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of the entire world’s freshwater supply, this province features virtually endless opportunities for boaters and fishermen. Whether you are looking to make waves on Lake Ontario, or you are seeking a more remote body of water in the northern reaches of the province, Ontario has an ideal option for you. Before you can get out and start enjoying these Canadian waterways, however, you are going to want to obtain an Ontario boating license, as well as any other Transport Canada documentation that you will require in order to legally operate your vessel.

If you have spent time on boats in the past, you are probably familiar with the feeling of freedom they offer. There are not many things more liberating than making waves with the sun on your face, far away from the stresses and concerns back on land. Boating is a true privilege, and like any worthwhile privilege, it comes with a degree of responsibility. As a boat owner, you have a duty to operate your watercraft safely and in accordance with the law. This means keeping a fully stocked first aid kit onboard at all times, and an ample supply of life jackets for yourself and your passengers. You will also need to keep your engine maintained–the last thing you want is to be stuck out on the water with a dead motor. Also, importantly, you need to have current Transport Canada documentation at all times. Read on to learn more about what you need for your vessel, as well as how you can process your applications online.

What is an Ontario Boating License?

Before you head out on the water, you should do a quick inventory of the paperwork pertaining to your vessel. A good starting point would be to make sure that you have an Ontario boating license. A boating license, which is officially called a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), is sort of like a driver’s license, but for motorized vessels. By having a PCOC, you are demonstrating that you have a basic competency for safely operating a boat. You can obtain your PCOC by taking an educational course and bypassing Transport Canada’s competency exam. Once you pass said exam, you can expect to receive your PCOC in the mail in about two or three weeks. Once issued, your boating license is valid for life.

A Boat License vs. a Boating License

Terminology regarding Transport Canada paperwork can get a bit confusing. One sticky area, especially for novice sailors, is getting mixed up on the differences between boat licenses and boating licenses. As explained earlier, a boating license–PCOC–applies to the boater themself and shows that they can safely operate a motorized boat. A boat license, which is technically called Pleasure Craft License (PCL), applies to the boat. When you obtain a PCL, you are given a registration number, which is the string of digits that is displayed externally on both sides of a boat’s bow.

So, does your vessel require a PCL? In Canada, any boat used for recreational purposes that has an engine of 10 or more horsepower (7.5 kW) will need to apply for a pleasure craft license. Once issued, this license will be good for a period of 10 years, at which point you will need to apply for a renewal. PCLs can also be transferred, which is a common occurrence in the secondary market. 

If your boat is going to be used for any sort of commercial purpose, you will need to obtain a vessel registration. This is also true if you secured a loan in the form of a marine mortgage to finance the purchase of your boat. When you register your vessel, you will receive a completely unique moniker of your choice for your boat, as well as an official number. Once entered into Transport Canada’s registry, you will also be able to travel on international waters under the Canadian flag.

Ontario Boating License

Apply for the Documents You Need Online

No matter what your Transport Canada documentation needs may be, we can help. At the National Vessel Registry Center, we are a private service that provides online forms to Canadian boat owners. To learn more, take a few minutes to explore our website, or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.