What Is a Pleasure Craft Licence and Why Is It Important?

Pleasure craft licence

If you buy a boat in Canada, you’ll either need to get a licence or registration. Both are different types of processes. However, both a registration and a licence help authorities find you in case of an emergency. 

Defining a Pleasure Craft

You’ll want a pleasure craft licence (PCL) if you want a more economical way to meet the compliance requirements of the government. To understand how licensing works, it helps, first, to define a pleasure craft.

A pleasure craft with a 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) motor requires that owners obtain a pleasure craft licence as well as a pleasure craft operator card (PCOC). This can get rather confusing. While the PCL is required for I.D. purposes and to support ownership, a PCOC proves navigational competency.

Think of things this way – a PCL or Certificate of Registry is like a licence plate you place on your car while a PCOC is like the driver’s licence you carry in your wallet.

The pleasure craft is also a recreational boat that does not carry passengers (paying customers). This definition falls under the Shipping Act, 2001 of Canada. Guests are non-paying pleasure, craft occupants.

Classifying a Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL)

A PCL gives you a one-of-a-kind I.D. number or official marine licence number for your craft. You must display this number on your boat and keep the licence onboard when operating your boat. The number is used to find the boat if you’re lost while boating or the vessel is stolen. 

Therefore, when you receive the licence, you’ll also have an I.D. that will give your vessel a unique should you run into trouble on the waters or your pleasure craft is stolen. An official licence number or registration hull identification number (HIN) (in case you register your boat) supports the efforts of a search and rescue (SAS) team or an investigation by port authorities or the police.

What Is a Dealer Licence?

A dealer licence is a license required for dealers who demonstrate pleasure crafts for sale. Therefore, the licence does not apply to a specific boat. A boat dealer is required to apply for a dealer (or demonstration) licence so they can use it on the unlicensed boats they try to show, which are under the dealer’s name.

The dealer can’t paint a licence number on any pleasure craft because buyers have to apply for their own licence number. Dealers can only apply for a licence by post. They cannot apply electronically.

Obtaining a PCL Online

As a pleasure craft owner, you can easily apply for a PCL online. That way, you can start boating fairly quickly. Let’s take a quick walk-through of the steps.

Confirmation of  the Application

After you submit your application online, you usually receive a confirmation through your email that acknowledges your application’s receipt. Your email will provide details and the application number – something you should keep on file.

The application, after you apply, is reviewed by Transport Canada, so make sure you complete it fully and that you provide the required documents. The review process usually takes about 4 weeks but may extend past that time, especially if you apply during the peak season of boating. So, if you apply during the summer, you’ll usually have a longer wait. The review may also take longer if there is an error.

Issuing and Delivering the PCL

Once the licence application is approved, again, you’ll receive your new PCL. You’ll get a notification that tells you about the issuance of the licence and directions on the document’s digital access. 

You can follow up by downloading and printing the licence or you can store a digital copy of the PCL on your smartphone. However you choose to keep your PCL, you should have it in ready access when you’re navigating your boat.

Besides the digital copy, you’ll also receive a physical PCL at your home address. Arrival time is based on the processing time and postal delivery where you work and live.

Displaying Your Licence Number

After you get your new licence, you’ll need to display your licence number on either side of your boat’s bow, above the water line. The numbers should be easily readable to avoid a penalty or a fine.

Renewing Your Licence

The PCL is valid for 10 years. After that time, you can renew the licence online. Make sure you record any changes with respect to your boat ownership or contact information within 90 days of the planned change. If you don’t update your licence information, it could lead to invalidation or suspension of your boating privileges.

Pleasure craft licence

Get Your PCL Right Away

If you’ve purchased a new boat, you’ll need to apply for a PCL right away. Go to the Canadian Vessel Registry so you can follow a simple and straightforward process. You can get confirmed, wait for approval, and display your number fairly fast. Keep track of renewal dates as well. Stay compliant – get licensed conveniently.