Understanding the Canada Shipping Act and How it Pertains to You

Canada Shipping Act

Few things are as complicated as legislative texts, which is why when people want to learn about the Canada Shipping Act by reading through it, they end up more confused than before. We want to make it easier for you, so let’s talk about it.

Canada Shipping Act of 2001

The Canada Shipping Act was a piece of legislation introduced to Canada in 2001 to update and clarify maritime regulations for Canadian vessels. At the time, it had been well over a hundred years since the last major change to maritime law in the territory, so it was necessary to better establish widespread seafaring laws that could work in the 21st century. The British Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 had been amended beyond recognition in order to continuously adapt to the changing times, which is why comprehensive legislation was necessary to better serve the current needs of vessel-owning Canadians. This is the law that looks over your maritime registration and documentation, so even though there’s no reason for you to read the whole law (all eight thousand words of it), it’s good to at least be aware of what it represents.

The Point of the Act

First of all, what is the act even for? According to its text, the objectives of the Canada Shipping Act are to:

  1. protect the health and well-being of individuals, including the crews of vessels, who participate in marine transportation and commerce;
  2. promote safety in marine transportation and recreational boating;
  3. protect the marine environment from damage due to navigation and shipping activities;
  4. develop a regulatory scheme that encourages viable, effective and economical marine transportation and commerce; 
  5. promote an efficient marine transportation system;
  6. develop a regulatory scheme that encourages the viable, effective and economical use of Canadian waters by recreational boaters;
  7. ensure that Canada can meet its international obligations under bilateral and multilateral agreements with respect to navigation and shipping;
  8. encourage the harmonization of marine practices; and 
  9. establish an effective inspection and enforcement program.

How Does it Pertain to You?

As a vessel owner, you need to understand that the Canada Shipping Act is the one that mandates registration of all commercial vessels, as well as the registration and licensing of pleasure craft. The legislation lays out all the relevant requirements in terms of the registration of vessels, stating which ones will have to be registered and which ones won’t. If you own a non-pleasure vessel powered by an engine of 10hp (7.5kw) or more, or commercial river rafts in Canada, you must register them with Transport Canada’s Canadian Register of Vessels or the Small Vessel Register (Commercial). As far as recreational and pleasure craft, if you have a pleasure craft equipped with motors of 10 horsepower (7.5 kilowatts) or more, even if it is a personal watercraft, that is maintained or operated in Canada, you will need to obtain the corresponding license.

Register Your Vessel

Here at the National Vessel Registry Center Corp, we can provide you with all the necessary forms for you to keep your vessel registration pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act. And, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling +1 (800) 419-9569 or email us at info@canadianvesselregistry.ca.