The Ritual of Changing the Name of a Boat Explained

While boating can unlock a true sense of freedom and unlimited hours of leisure, the cost for entry can be high. With this in mind, there is a robust secondary boat market in Canada, and many boaters opt to purchase previously owned vessels. While there can be great value found in a used boat, you may ultimately wish to make it your own, which can call for changing the name of a boat. Once you have decided on a new moniker for your vessel, however, there will be some steps to complete beyond a new paint job.

In Canada, many boats are required to carry Pleasure Craft Licenses (PCLs) or enter the national vessel registry. With this in mind, changing the name of a boat will require some paperwork. On top of practical matters, however, there are some ceremonial aspects to changing a boat’s name you will want to consider. After all, boating is all about pleasure, so why not make it a celebration?

Changing the Name of a Boat – Bad Luck?

If you are at all familiar with boating or life at sea, you have probably heard the superstitions about changing the name of a vessel. Where does the idea of this bad omen come from? It can actually be traced back to Greek mythology. It is said that the god of the sea, Poseidon, maintains a ledger of every vessel, and when a name is changed it must be purged from his book forever. So, how do you stay on Poseidon’s good side?

changing the name of a boat

First, you will want to remove any trace of your vessel’s previous name–this includes the boat’s exterior as well as any formal documentation. Next, there is a purging and renaming ceremony required to appease the god of sea. Don’t worry–all that really calls for is enjoying champagne with a friend to serve as a witness. Once you have tossed champagne in all four directions to satisfy the Wind Gods, you are free to finish whatever bubbly remains. 

Completing the Official Documentation

There are of course some Earthly officials who will need to be appeased as well. If your vessel is entered in the national registry, you will need to complete a Form 13 – Application for Change of Ship Name and/or Change of Port of Registry. This form can be located on Transport Canada’s website, where you can download it as a PDF file and then print and sign it. 

If your boat has a PCL, you will need to update that with your vessel’s new name as well. There is a similar process to complete in terms of filling out paperwork, and you can then mail it to the appropriate government agency location for processing.

Complete Your Vessel Name Change Online

Let’s face it, you have champagne to drink and a boat to enjoy–don’t bog yourself down with paperwork. At the National Vessel Registry Center, we can help you complete this process online using our simplified web documents. To learn more, contact one of our helpful customer service representatives today.