Learn About Licensing a Boat in Ontario

Licensing a Boat in Ontario

As we enter 2023, you may be thinking about picking up some new hobbies. Maybe it is a New Year’s resolution of yours to spend more time in the great Canadian outdoors. If so, you may want to explore the idea of purchasing your very own boat. When you have your own vessel, you have the freedom to venture out on the water whenever you would like, creating lasting, meaningful memories with your friends, family, and loved ones. Of course, purchasing a boat is no minor investment, and for many, it is one of the more expensive purchases they will ever make. Before you can leave the dock in the boat of your dreams, you will have to do extensive due diligence to find the right vessel for you. This means learning the different manufacturers and models and scouring “for sale” listings in various print and digital media. Once you find a seller and negotiate a fair price, you may find yourself holding the keys to your brand-new boat. Before you can hit the water, though, you will also need to familiarize yourself with the process of licensing a boat in Ontario.

Canada is home to a great many beautiful, scenic waterways. The province of Ontario, in particular, is something of a boater’s paradise. With more than 250,000 lakes within its borders, Ontario is home to nearly one-fifth of the entire world’s freshwater supply. With that in mind, there is no shortage of lakes and rivers for you to explore with your boat. In order to keep our waters safe and clean for all to enjoy, Transport Canada is tasked with their regulation and protection. As the nation’s main transportation agency for both land and sea, Transport Canada issues licenses and registrations to boats and boaters across the country. Accountable to both Parliament and the Canadian people, Transport Canada plays an important role. By completing the process of licensing a boat in Ontario, you are not only complying with the law, but you are doing your part to preserve our waterways for the enjoyment of future generations.

Licensing a Boat in Ontario: The Basics

If you have managed to secure the purchase of a new boat, you are probably pretty eager to get out on the lake. You have thoroughly cleaned your vessel inside and out, and stocked it with safety supplies and life preservers. Before you untie from the dock, however, it is crucial that you review your Transport Canada documentation. You can think of a boat as sort of being like a car. In order to operate a motor vehicle, you need to first obtain a driver’s license, and you need to register your car as well. There is something of a similar process with boats in Canada. A boating license, which is officially called a pleasure craft operator card (PCOC), demonstrates that you have a basic competency for operating a motorized vessel. You can receive a PCOC from Transport Canada by taking a short educational course and passing a subsequent written exam. PCOCs are offered free of charge.

A boat license, while it may sound similar, is actually quite different from a boating license. Known officially as a pleasure craft license (PCL), this document instead applies to the boat itself, not the individual operating it. In Ontario, as well as throughout Canada, any vessel featuring an engine of 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more will require a PCL. Any boat, such as a kayak or canoe, however, can still obtain a PCL. Many boat owners find that they are a good way to protect their investment, as a PCL can help authorities locate your boat should it be stolen or go missing.

When you are issued a PCL by Transport Canada, your boat is assigned a registration number. This alphanumeric string of digits must be displayed externally on both sides of your boat’s bow in letters of at least three inches in height. Your PCL number should also clearly contrast with the colour of your boat. Once a PCL has been issued to your boat, it will be valid for a period of ten years, at which point you will be able to request a renewal. When a boat carrying a PCL is sold–which is not uncommon on the secondary market–the license can be transferred to the new owner.

Licensing a Boat in Ontario

Get Your PCL Online Today

You will be pleased to learn that licensing a boat in Ontario is possible to do online. By using our simplified web forms, you can submit your application to Transport Canada in just minutes. We also have a host of other Transport Canada documents available–no matter what you need, we have you covered. To learn more, take a few minutes to browse our site.