The Difference Between a Transport Canada Vessel Registration and a PCL

Transport Canada Vessel Registration

If you own your own boat, you have probably spent some time down at the dock or the marina taking in all the various types of vessels out on the water. In truth, there are a wide array of different types of boats out there, from small canoes to large industrial barges. While all vessels accomplish the same feat of floating on the water, the reality is that they can be used for a wide range of activities. Whether it is a leisurely afternoon spent sightseeing, or operating a commercial charter, you can use your boat for just about anything you choose on Canadian waters. Of course, the particulars of your boat and its specific use may require different modes of documentation from Transport Canada. Most commonly, you are going to need either a Transport Canada vessel registration or a pleasure craft license (PCL). The good news, however, is that you can get the documentation you need by using our simplified web forms.

In Canada, we take pride in our beautiful, pristine waterways. With thousands of miles of coastline, countless lakes, and a number of winding rivers, our great nation is home to a nearly endless amount of locations to launch a boat. As a responsible boat owner, the onus is on you to do whatever you can to keep our waters safe for the enjoyment of all. This means keeping your boat clean and routinely checking your emissions. It also means that you need to make sure that your vessel has the proper license or registration with Transport Canada. As the country’s main agency concerning transportation infrastructure matters on both land and sea, Canada maintains a thorough registry of boats being used on our waters, allowing them to better tailor rules and regulations for the boating public.

What is a Transport Canada Vessel Registration?

The specific type of documentation your boat will require from Transport Canada largely comes down to what you plan to use it for. For example, any boat traveling on foreign waters under the Canadian flag, or any vessel being used for commercial purposes, must carry a vessel registration. This is also true for any boat that is financed with a marine mortgage, though any vessel can obtain a registration if they want it. You can get your registration by filling out Form 1 – Application for Vessel Registration, Form 3 – Statement of Qualification for Vessel Registration, and providing some supplemental materials to Transport Canada.

Transport Canada Vessel Registration

Pleasure Craft Licenses and More

Boats that are used for purely recreational purposes will typically only require a PCL. To be a bit more precise, PCLs are required for any boat with an engine of 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) or more. A PCL will assign your vessel a registration number, which you will need to display on the exterior of your boat, well above the water line, on both sides of your bow.

Whether you need a PCL or a vessel registration, we can help. We have online applications for these and a number of other Transport Canada paperwork matters. To learn more, spend some time browsing our site, or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.