What Is a Pleasure Craft License? Do I Need One?

Pleasure Craft License

If you are looking to escape the stresses of daily life, boating may be one of your better options. By just untying from the dock on a sunny afternoon, you can leave the worries of land behind, affording yourself hours of peace and relaxation. When you own your own boat, you can also share these leisurely outings with your friends and family, giving you the freedom to set out and create memories whenever you would like. Before you can feel the sun on your skin and the wind on your face, however, there will be a small amount of paperwork to navigate. In particular, depending on your vessel and what you are using it for, you may need to obtain a Pleasure Craft License (PCL) from Transport Canada.

Transport Canada is a government agency that has an important set of duties and responsibilities to both parliament and the Canadian people. As they are responsible for all transportation matters on sea and land, this agency is tasked with issuing permits and registrations to all Canadian boaters. By doing this, they can have a fairly solid grasp on what types of boats and boaters are using our waters, allowing them to craft smarter rules and regulations. 

Understanding the Purpose of the Pleasure Craft License

A boat license, as a concept, makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Not unlike a car, a boat can be large and powerful, and it should be owned and operated in a responsible manner. This is where the Pleasure License comes into play in Canada. Any motorized vessel with an output of 8.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more must carry a PCL. This extends to personal watercraft, such as Sea-doos as well. You should note, however, that even non-motorized vessels are eligible for a PCL, and there is some practical value in obtaining a license.

When you are issued a PCL, you are assigned a registration number. This number must be displayed on your vessel’s exterior (on both sides of the bow) in letters of at least three inches in height. As this number makes your vessel more easily identifiable (it should be placed well above the waterline), it can be greatly helpful if your vessel is lost or stolen.

Pleasure Craft License

How to Obtain Your Boat License Online

In order to get your Pleasure Craft License, there is a process to complete. You will need to complete an application with Transport Canada, and provide some supplemental items as well. You should include a bill of sale, which serves as proof of ownership. You will also need to attach a full-size, side profile photograph of your boat. If you make a photocopy of your application, you can use your vessel in the interim period while your license is pending. Once issued, your PCL will be valid for 10 years, at which point you will need to file a renewal.

At the National Vessel Registry Center, we can help you apply for your PCL online. Simply select the correct dropdown from our top navigation, and you will be brought to a streamlined, fillable web form. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone or email, or visit our FAQ page.