Understanding Small Vessel Registration and Compliance

vessel registration

Buying a boat to sail across some of North America’s most wonderful lakes and rivers is a unique experience. But what documentation do you need? Vessel registration may be mandatory depending on the use you have planned for your ship. Knowing what kind of paperwork you need to operate your boat is a must to comply with the authorities and engage in commercial activity without getting in trouble with law enforcement.

Canada is home to many water-related activities, as it not only has thousands of inner waterways across the provinces but also has coast to both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. There are different types of documentation for vessels in Canada. Each one has its specific requirements to be acquired. The right one will depend on the size of the ship and the use you have for it.

Getting On With The Basics: What Is Small Vessel Registration?

The main issue that determines whether your boat requires or not registration is the use intended for it. If you plan only in having a weekend ride with the family to take pictures, a pleasure craft license is more than enough (although you can register it under certain circumstances). But if you want to make a living out of it and create a business, or use it as a means of subsistence, you have to go for boat registration.

Likewise, registration splits up into two categories: large (or Canadian Vessel) and small vessel registration. This article focuses on the second one. Then what are the requirements to achieve it? The basics for small vessel registration are the following:

  • Commercial (non-pleasure) vessels with a gross tonnage of 15 or less powered by a motor of 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more
  • Government-owned vessels with a gross tonnage of 15 or less powered with motors of 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more
  • Commercial river rafts
  • Barges

Overall, Canadian Vessel and Small Vessel Registration share many similarities. What really makes the difference is the gross tonnage. If it is over 15, you have to apply for Canadian Vessel Registration.

What Does ‘Compliance’ Mean?

Transport Canada has launched the ‘Small Vessel Compliance Program’, known for its initials as SVCP. The SVCP is an easy-to-use tool to help meet all legal requirements to operate small non-pleasure vessels. It helps owners or operators meet requirements such as:

  • Ensuring that the vessel, its machinery, and equipment comply with regulations
  • Developing procedures for safe operation and for emergencies
  • Ensuring that crew and passengers receive safety training

The program applies for:

  • Commercial vessels up to 15 gross tonnage
  • Passenger vessels up to 15 GT, carrying 12 passengers or less
  • Fishing vessels up to 15 GT
  • Recreational boating schools’ vessels

Need To Apply For Small Vessel Registration? We Can Help!

The National Vessel Registration Center is designed to provide forms and applications for every single paperwork process required to meet the standards of Transport Canada. Our three-step application process and easy-to-use interface make it a top-ranking website to obtain everything you need to get waterborne ASAP.

If you have questions regarding vessel registration, concerns or it’s your first time filling in forms on the internet, feel free to reach us out. We’ll be more than happy to get back to you with an answer.