Pleasure Craft Licence in Ontario: All You Need to Know

pleasure craft licence

There are many reasons to boat in Ontario–about 250,000, to be exact. That is how many lakes there are in this great province, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the entire Earth’s fresh water supply. If you are looking to explore Ontario’s vast array of waterways with your vessel, you will want to make sure that you have a current Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL).

Whether you are visiting Ontario, or you happen to be a current resident, taking your boat out on its lakes and rivers is a great privilege. Before you take your family and friends out on the water to make memories that can last a lifetime, it is important to make sure that your paperwork is up-to-date.

pleasure craft licence

The Responsibilities of Boat Ownership

For many, owning a boat is a dream come true. If you have been lucky enough to purchase a vessel of your very own, you likely understand the concept of responsibility. After all, you may have spent months or years saving money and doing research before closing in on such a sizable investment. 

Even after your sale has been finalized, however, owning a boat can be a lot of work. You will need to find a place to dock it, take care of routine maintenance, purchase gas and oil, and ensure that you have life jackets, a first aid kit, and other safety items. On top of that, there is a fair amount of paperwork.

Understanding Pleasure Craft Licence Requirements

Think back to when you bought your first car. As you likely recall, there was a title and registration that came into your possession when the transaction was completed. The same concept applies to many boats. Along with proof of ownership, any motorized boat in Canada with a horsepower greater than 10 must carry a PCL. 

There are a couple of exceptions to this. If your boat is in the National Vessel Registry, you are exempt from obtaining a PCL. All commercial vessels, boats that carry marine mortgages, and boats that travel internationally must be registered. Registration is, however, available to all, and it does have benefits beyond removing the need for PCLs and PCL renewals. Vessel registration also gives your boat a completely unique and individual name, while also bestowing the privilege of flying Canada’s flag on international waters. 

If you have just purchased your boat, there is a 90-day grace period for obtaining your licence. So long as you carry a photocopy of your application, you can still operate your boat legally during this window of time.

Getting Your Licence and Other Vital Documents

If you have ever spent time around boats, you are likely familiar with the series of numbers that tend to be affixed on the side of them. Well, that identification number is what is granted by a PCL. To obtain your ID to place upon your vessel, you will need to complete an application process.

First, you should go to Transport Canada’s website. With a little digging, you will be able to find a blank application form that you can then print out. You will then need to enter your name and address, some facts about your boat, as well as the name and address of the previous owner in ink.

Next, you will need to provide some supplemental documentation. Valid proof of ownership, a copy of your government-issued identification card, and a full-size profile photo of your vessel must be submitted along with your application. Once you have compiled and assembled all of your paperwork and supporting documents, you then need to mail your application package to Transport Canada’s office in Ottawa.

You can obtain your pleasure craft license, and it will be valid for a period of ten years.

Though it is easy to confuse them, it is important to remember that a boat license and a boating license are two different documents. A boating license–officially known as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)–can be obtained by completing an educational course and passing a competency exam. Think of the PCOC as a sort of driver’s license, but for boats. Ensuring that boaters have a basic understanding of safe boating practices can help protect the safety of everyone on Ontario’s waters.

Get Your PCL or Vessel Registration Online

If you need to get your pleasure craft licence or vessel registration, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the sheer amount of paperwork required. Luckily, for boater owners like yourself, there is an easier way.

At the National Vessel Registry Center, we specialize in providing simple, online forms for Canadian boat owners to get the documentation they need. Whether you require an initial registration, or a more nuanced document, we can help you complete your application in just a matter of minutes. To learn more, contact one of our experienced customer service representatives today, or take a few minutes to browse the menus on our website.