New To Boat Ownership? What Is A Pleasure Craft Licence?

What Is A Pleasure Craft Licence

Are you looking for an answer to, what is a pleasure craft licence? This is a great question and having the correct response can help you determine if your boat ownership is considered recreational or otherwise. Adhering to the guidelines regarding how your vessel is registered is an important part of owning a boat. Use this guide to teach you everything you need to know. 

What is a Pleasure Craft Licence versus a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

These two items sound like the same thing, but they aren’t, and it’s vital to know the difference. A pleasure craft licence is a document that contains a unique licence number for your pleasure craft. A pleasure craft operator card is an actual card that operators must store on board at all times. 

Criteria for a  Pleasure Craft Licence

The main criteria for obtaining a pleasure craft licence is that the boat in question has a motor of 10 horsepower or more. This includes personal watercraft that are maintained or have their origin in Canada. A pleasure craft licence is valid for 10 years but must be updated any time your personal information changes, including contact details, such as address and phone number. 

Displaying the Licence Number

Your pleasure craft licence number must be displayed on your vessel. There are guidelines pertaining to where the number is placed, size, etc. It’s important to adhere to these regulations to prevent fines and penalties, but it’s also vital that your boat can be easily identified in case it’s lost, stolen, or you are involved in an emergency in the water. The following rules apply:


  • The number must be displayed above the waterline on both sides of the bow.
  • The numbers must be block characters.
  • The numbers must be at least 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) high. 
  • The numbers must contrast with the background color of the boat. 

Other Rules to Be Aware Of

When you have a pleasure craft licence, you are required by law to carry a copy of it on board your boat at all times, in addition to displaying the licence number on the exterior of the vessel. If your boat is registered, you do not need a pleasure craft license. There is no fee for a pleasure craft licence, however there is a financial penalty if you are caught on the water without one.

What Is A Pleasure Craft Licence

Obtaining a Pleasure Craft Licence

You can apply for your pleasure craft license online, making it faster and easier to get through the process. You simply fill in the details pertaining to the boat, upload any necessary documentation, then submit the form to the relevant authorities. Most licenses are approved within 90 days, during which you can use an acknowledgement number so you can use your boat immediately. You can also transfer to update the license online. 

Do you need more answers to the question, what is a pleasure boat license? We can help. Contact the Canadian Vessel Registry and we will answer all of your questions.