Making Sense of Boat Numbers

Boat Numbers

If you are just getting into boating as a hobby, it can be an exciting time. After all, you are embarking on a new adventure and potentially unlocking a lifelong leisure activity. While you are no doubt antsy to hit the water and start making waves, new boaters can be on something of a serious learning curve also. For the uninitiated, boating can be intimidating, as there is so much to learn about operating and maintaining a boat. The good news is, there are plenty of resources available, and once you get the hang of it, you may find that boating becomes second nature. At the outset, though, it is helpful to learn some basics about boating. As you begin shopping for vessels, you will come to know the various types that are on the market. You will also probably become curious about vessel licenses and registrations, as well as boat numbers. Well, as you will come to learn, they can be pretty easily demystified. 

Boating licenses, vessel registrations, boat licenses–what do they all mean? While some of the names sound similar, they can serve very different purposes. Take, for example, the boating license. This is officially called a pleasure craft operator card (PCOC), and it is sort of like a driver’s license for a motorized boat. You can get a PCOC by taking an educational course and then taking–and passing–an exam administered by Transport Canada. A boat license, somewhat similar to a vessel registration, applies to the boat itself. Boat licenses are officially known as pleasure craft licenses (PCLs), and when you obtain a PCL, Transport Canada issues you a registration number. Read on to learn more about PCLs, as well as how you can use our forms to get yours online.

What Do Boat Numbers Mean?

If you have ever been around boats, you have probably noticed the numbers that are commonly affixed to their exteriors (usually on both sides of the bow). These numbers signify that a boat is carrying a PCL. In Canada, any motorized vessel with an engine of 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more will require a PCL. They are available to all boats, however, so even kayaks and canoes can obtain registration numbers. You can get a PCL by filling out an application that will ask for some basic information about yourself and your new boat. Transport Canada will also ask that you submit a full-size photograph of your vessel, and proof of ownership, which is typically done with what is called a bill of sale (think: sales receipt).

While you can fill out paperwork by hand, assemble it together, and mail it to Transport Canada’s offices in Ottawa, there is also a simpler way. At the National Vessel Registry Center, we have online forms and a secure SSL-encrypted web portal that you can use to submit your application over the web. 

Boat Numbers

Apply for a PCL Online Today

Work with us and apply for your PCL with just a few clicks. To get a sense of some of our other offerings, take a look around our website. You can also visit our useful Frequently Asked Questions page for more info.