PCL Ownership and Registration

Ownership and Registration

Always have the up-to-date proof of ownership (such as a Pleasure Craft License (PCL) or Vessel Registration, plus a Bill of Sale) with you when using your pleasure craft. Also, make sure that the vessel ownership information you possess is current, which means you’ll need to submit updated records via the Canadian Vessel Registry if there are changes in the owner’s name or address.

For 90 days after a change in name or address, the owner can still use the pleasure craft before receiving an updated licence. However, during this time, documentation proving the date of an address or name change, new name or address details, and previous licence awaiting updates must remain onboard. 

Remember that a pleasure craft licence alone is not sufficient as proof of ownership when entering the United States (or returning to Canada). Therefore, it’s essential to have valid proof of ownership (e.g., PCL or Vessel Registration along with a Bill of Sale) for your pleasure craft Ownership and Registration or licensing requirements.

Hull Serial Numbers

All pleasure craft used in Canada must have a Hull Serial Number (HSN). This number, which is also called a hull identification number, should be displayed on the hull regardless of whether a craft has a motor or not). The HIN should be at least 3.2 cm (1 ¼ in.) in height or width and contain 12 digits, starting with the manufacturer’s code. This number must permanently mark the exterior upper starboard corner of the boat’s transom.

If the boat does not feature a transom, the HIN  or HSN should appear on the right side of the rear of the hull.

The number may also have a two-character country code. The HIN is displayed in a second location as well – beneath a fitting or hardware or on the boat’s interior, unexposed. It’s unlawful to deface, change, or remove a boat’s HIN.

An HSN or HIN is used, just like a licence number to locate and recover a stolen boat, via Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations. 

For instance, the number CA-ABC67690B606 is broken down as follows:

CA – Country code for Canada

ABC – Manufacturing ID

Serial Number – 67690

Commencement of Construction – B6

Model Year – 06

Ownership and Registration Rules

Small Vessel Regulations state you need to register your boat if it is used for commercial purposes, it is wholly owned by qualified individuals,, and it is not registered or otherwise recorded in another country.

Whether you licence or register your boat, it must, by law, have at least a 10 horsepower motor. If your boat does not have the required motor, you can still apply for a registration or a licence for identification purposes.

If you’re considered a qualified individual–a resident of Canada or corporation incorporated under Canadian or provincial laws–you can voluntarily register your boat.

You’ll also need to register your boat if you take out a marine mortgage or you insure your boat. 

Registration Benefits

Registering a pleasure craft gives you several key benefits – 

  • You can support ownership of your boat
  • You can fly the Canadian flag on your boat
  • You can give your craft a unique name and official number

Ownership and registration work hand in hand to support proof that you own your boat and you’re operating it legally.

Ownership and Registration

Ownership and  Registration or Licensing Online – Where to Begin

Licensing your boat and registering your boat are both done for identification on the Canadian waterways. They both support you in proving ownership along with your bill of sale. However you choose to identify your boat, you can apply for the necessary document on the Canadian Vessel Registry website. 

Renewals for registrations take place every three years while renewals for licenses are every 10 years. You can also visit the Canadian Vessel Registry to take care of a licence transfer, or document a change to a current registration or licence.