Registering a Boat in Ontario without Ownership: A Quick Guide

registering a boat in ontario without ownership

Coming into ownership of a boat does not always follow a traditional path. If you have somehow stumbled across or found a boat, you will want to learn about registering a boat in Ontario without ownership. Registering your boat is crucial to its legal operation, so if you find yourself in this rather unique circumstance, staying informed is a wise and practical maneuver. 

Identifying a Lost or Abandoned Vessel

Say one day you are out on the water exploring and something catches your eye. You get closer to the object, and much to your astonishment you have come across a discarded boat. Before you dive into restoring this vessel and making it your own, however, you will want to ensure that it does not belong to someone else.

The first thing you will want to do is look for any identification numbers on the side of the boat. You can then reference these numbers with Ontario’s boating registry, or with Transport Canada. If the boat is safe enough, you can also venture on board to scour the vessel for documentation. If you or an agency are able to identify the owner, you may be able to return the boat, or you can confirm that it is indeed abandoned.

registering a boat in ontario without ownership

Getting a Certificate Of Ownership

If you cannot locate an owner for a vessel you have found, you should consider acquiring historical research from Transport Canada. They may be able to provide a detailed history of the vessel’s ownership, provided it was registered in their database.

If your newfound boat’s previous owner has agreed to relinquish its possession, or if there was simply no owner to be located, you will need to acquire a certificate of ownership. This can be done by filling out the appropriate forms and submitting them to the correct licensing office.

Applying for Registration

Once you have proof of ownership, you can apply to register your vessel. Typically, this is only required if you are going to be taking your boat out on international waters, or if it is going to hold a marine mortgage. Still, there are benefits to having your vessel registered with Transport Canada.

For one, you will be able to fly the Canadian flag in foreign waters. You will also ensure that your vessel will be easier to locate and identify in the event that it is lost or stolen. If you are interested in applying for initial registration, make sure you have a shortlist of three potential names for your boat (Transport Canada requires that all registered vessels have unique names). You will also need to provide some personal information as well as some facts about your port of registry.

Curious About Registering a Boat in Ontario without Ownership or Other Matters? 

Whether you are looking to track down historical research, or if you are seeking a first-time registration, we can help. At the National Vessel Registry Center, we offer easy-to-use online forms for all of your Transport Canada documentation needs. To learn more, take a moment to browse our website or contact us to speak with a friendly customer service representative.