Transport Canada Boat Transfer: Is It Mandatory?

Are you considering purchasing your very own boat? Perhaps you are making good on a dream you have had since childhood, finally taking to the waters in your very own vessel? If you have found yourself in such a fortunate position, you have probably begun to scour print and web listings for boats that are available. Chances are, you may have also suffered some sticker shock. The simple truth is, boats can be expensive. The good news is, however, Canada is home to a robust secondary boat market, where prospective sailors can find great value in a used vessel. If you are thinking about going down this path, you will want to learn a bit about completing a Transport Canada boat transfer.

After finding the boat for you, contacting the seller, and negotiating a price, there will be a bit of paperwork to complete. Once a bill of sale has been created and issued, you will also need to transfer the vessel’s Pleasure Craft License (PCL), which is mandatory by law.

What is a Pleasure Craft License?

While owning your own boat can be a gateway to freedom and hours of leisure, it is not without its bureaucratic responsibilities. If you are planning to operate a boat in Canada that features an engine with horsepower of ten or more, you will need to obtain a PCL. This piece of documentation will provide you with the registration number that needs to be placed on your vessel’s exterior.

So, what if you are purchasing a boat that already has a PCL? In this situation, the vessel’s license will need to be transferred. To do this, you will need:

  • A valid bill of sale or other proof of ownership
  • Copies of government identification for both the buyer and seller
  • A photograph of your vessel’s full side-view

Additionally, the seller will need to sign the license over to you (there is a field for this on the back of the PCL).

transport canada boat transfer

Transport Canada Boat Transfer of Registration

If the vessel you are purchasing is in the Small Vessel Registry, you will need to have the registration transferred over to you. The process for doing this is very similar to that of a PCL. With registered vessels, however, you will need to submit an official document demonstrating proof of ownership called a “Form 6 – Bill of Sale.” Submitting this along with a signed copy of the boat’s current registration will fulfill your transfer request. 

If you are purchasing a boat that is in the Small Vessel Registry, you will be able to enjoy a handful of perks. For one, you will not need to apply for or renew a PCL–your registration has you covered. You will also be able to sail on international waters under the Canadian flag. If the boat you are buying is not registered, you can apply for the privilege, as it is available to all boaters in Canada.

File Your Paperwork Online Today

Completing a transfer of ownership by mail can be complicated. With so many supplemental materials to keep track of, you may find yourself mired in paperwork. Luckily, we can help. By using our online forms, you can complete a transfer of ownership in just minutes. To learn more, email us today.