Vessel Licence Requirements and Recommendations

The first moment when you realize that your vessel is truly yours is amazing. All of that work, all of that saving up of money, and all the time you spent trying to find the right one – it all comes together in a tremendous moment of accomplishment. It’s OK to bask in it. Once it passes, however, there comes another feeling, a feeling of: “OK… now what?” obviously; you have to get quite a bit together once the vessel is really yours. We can provide you with all of the help you need with vessel license requirements and registration.

vessel license requirements

Pleasure Craft Vessel License Requirements

Many people buy what’s called a “pleasure craft.” That doesn’t mean that you simply laze around on it, always using it solely for pleasure, it just means that you aren’t using it in a commercial capacity. While the definition of “commercial” can be a bit difficult to parse, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: “are people paying to be on this boat?” If people are paying you to give them tours or transport them somewhere, then it’s not a pleasure craft. Of course, that’s only if it’s a consistent thing. Your friend kicking in a few bucks for gas wouldn’t suddenly mean that your pleasure craft was a commercial vessel.

Pleasure Craft License Regulations

You need to check the vessel license requirements for your pleasure craft if it has an engine with more than 10 horsepower. This is true even if it’s not something that you might think of as “a boat,” like a jet ski or some kind of watercraft like that.  If the engine is below 9.9 horsepower, then you don’t have to worry about this license. You will also need to put the license number on the vessel where people can see it as well. Remember: this doesn’t count as ownership. It’s strongly recommended that you have documents which prove the vessel is yours with you on the vessel. You can’t just point to the license number and say: “this proves it’s my boat.”


Vessel registration is different from the pleasure craft license. First off, it does connote ownership. This will let people know that this vessel is truly yours. Beyond that, you can use it as security for a loan as well (which is something you can’t do with a pleasure craft license). You’ll also be able to choose and keep the vessel name that you want. While this is more expensive than the pleasure craft license, it also allows you to fly the Canadian flag, too.

Registration, Licensing, and More

No matter which of these you choose, we can help you. At the National Vessel Registry Center Corp., we have all of the relevant documents you’ll need for your vessel. Just as you have life jackets on your vessel, to help you prepare for what may come your way, we have all of the documents you’ll need throughout the course of your vessel ownership. For more, call (800) 419-9569.