Understanding The Markings on Vessels on The Canadian Boat Registry

Canadian Boat Registry

The Canadian Boat Registry exists to assist you in getting the proper certificates for legal operation of your boat. This allows you to use your vessel, whether it’s recreational or commercial for its intended purpose by providing relevant information to the appropriate authorities regarding the information pertaining to your boat, including ownership and vessel specifications. Here’s how this applies to the markings that must be on your boat. 

What is the Role of the Canadian Boat Registry?

In keeping with the terms and conditions of the Canada Shipping Act of 2001, the key role of the Canadian Boat Registry is to develop and implement policies that guide boat owners to adhere to relevant rules and regulations that apply in Canadian waters. The Canadian Boat Registry applies to both recreational and commercial vessels, in terms of safety and following laws. 

Registration versus License

These are two different acts that apply to your boat and understanding the requirements of each helps you determine which is applicable to your vessel and its use. Any pleasure craft with 7.5kW (10 horsepower) or more must be licensed unless it’s already registered in the Canadian Registry of Vessels. You can still choose to license your boat, even if you aren’t required to. The license can be helpful in emergency situations and for identification purposes.

There are some regulations that go with registering your boat. Any of the following vessels are required to be registered. 

  • Commercial and government owned vessels with 7.5kW (10 horsepower)
  • Barges
  • Commercial river rafts
  • Vessels with a marine mortgage to be registered with Transport Canada
  • Any vessel that travels outside of Canada

Markings on the Boat

The markings on your vessel offer clues as to whether it’s registered or licensed. Accordingly, you must display this information on your boat, as required based on which situation applies to you. Consider the following:

  • A combination of letters and numbers that do not being with the letter C, found on the exterior of the vessel – LICENSED pleasure craft

(example: 50E12345 0r BC123456)

  • Name of the vessel, port of registry, official number or net registered tonnage, displayed on the exterior and interior of the boat – REGISTERED in the Canadian Register of Vessels

(example: Happy Dolphin Vancouver, BC O.N. 123456 N.R.T. 10.52

  • Any combination of letters and numbers that starts with the letter C, found on the exterior of the vessel, REGISTERED in the Small Vessel Register.

(example: C12345BC)

Canadian Boat Registry

It’s important to adhere to the rules and regulations regarding how this information is displayed and where it must be placed on your boat. This can help tremendously in emergency situations or if you need to find and identify a lost or stolen boat. 

Do you need more information about what the markings on vessels mean and how they apply to you and your boat? The Canadian Vessel Registry. is here to help. Contact us today to get answers to all your questions and the guidance you need to determine if you should register or license your boat.