What Does Transport Canada Do for Boaters?

Boating on the open water, in many ways, shares some commonalities with driving on the open road. There is a degree of freedom that comes from cruising out on the waves or the highway, your friends and loved ones by your side, going wherever the journey may take you. But just like driving is a privilege that comes with responsibilities, so too does boating. You obviously would not drive a car without a license and registration, and the same principle applies to boating and documentation from Transport Canada.

As an agency, Transport Canada is tasked with governing and regulating a number of transportation matters, including boat traffic on Canada’s waters. Their efforts help protect the safety of all boaters while also keeping an eye on environmental conservation efforts. Thanks to this government agency, Canadians are able to enjoy our pristine waters while knowing that safety measures are in place for everyone on-board their vessel.

transport canada

Some Background on Transport Canada

Canada is a large nation that is home to nearly 40 million people. It is also a country of great, untouched scenic beauty, with sprawling mountain ranges, dense forests, and expansive lakes and coastlines. Transport Canada was founded with the mission of implementing transportation programs and policies to both serve the population and protect the environment. By promoting environmentally-friendly transportation practices and measures, this agency takes a long view on Canada’s future and how generations to come will enjoy its natural offerings.

With more than 5,800 employees and five regional offices, Transport Canada is a large, diverse organization, committed to instituting better transportation policies across the country.  Reporting to Parliament and the Minister of Transportation, Transport Canada is a transparent organization that is accountable to the Canadian people.

How Does This Agency Impact Boaters?

Being responsible for nationwide transportation policy is a large umbrella. If you are reading this blog, you might find yourself wondering just how this government agency impacts you? Well, if you own and operate your own boat, the odds are good that you already have some background in dealing with Transport Canada. As this agency is in charge of regulating maritime affairs in Canada (for example, the Canada Shipping Act of 2001), they manage and dictate licensing and registration matters for boaters across the country.

If you have ever sought out a Pleasure Craft License (PCL), which is required for all motorized vessels with a horsepower of 10 or greater, this document was issued by Transport Canada. So too is your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), which demonstrates your competency to operate a boat on Canadian waters.

In truth, Transport Canada is responsible for a great number of documentation matters related to boating. No matter if you are new to boating and just purchased your first vessel, or if you require more nuanced and advanced documentation, you can expect to navigate some paperwork with the Canadian government.

Securing Your Vessel Registration

Beyond a PLC or PCOC, another common documentation matter that is facilitated through Transport Canada is vessel registration. Through this process, your boat is entered into the Canadian Vessel Registry. This action is compulsory should your boating endeavors include any of the following:

  • Carrying out a commercial enterprise with your boat (including commercial fishing, sightseeing charters, etc.)
  • Holding a marine mortgage in order to finance your vessel
  • Boating on international waters 

Registering your vessel does come with certain benefits as well. Completing this process gives your boat a completely unique name, setting you apart from other boaters on Canadian waters. It also grants you the privilege of flying the Canadian flag when on international or foreign waters. In the unlikely event that your boat is lost or stolen, having it registered in the government’s database can also aid in the search and rescue or recovery process.

So, how can you go about registering your boat? One method would be to visit the Transport Canada website and source the correct application. You will then need to print this document, complete it in ink, and package it with some supplemental materials. Supporting documents will include proof of ownership, a check for the required fee, and photographs of all four sides of your boat. Once you have packaged everything necessary for your application, you can then mail it to Transport Canada’s offices in Ottawa.

Or, you can do it online with our help. At the National Vessel Registry Center, we are a private service that helps boat owners submit their documentation applications online in a quick and efficient fashion. We offer simple online forms for vessel registration, pleasure craft licenses, and a number of other matters. Take a moment or two to explore our website and learn more about how you can file your application using our SSL-encrypted, secure web portal. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our experienced customer service representatives.