What Is the Difference Between Vessel License and Registration?

Difference Between License And Registration

When you have your own boat, there is a tantalizing level of freedom that is right at your fingertips. With the ability to head down to the marina and untie from the dock whenever you would like, you get to enjoy the luxurious privilege of endless outdoor exploration. Whether you happen to make your living out on the water, or if you simply use your boat for leisure purposes, there are some paperwork formalities that you will need to deal with on occasion. For example, you may need to obtain a Pleasure Craft License (PCL) from Transport Canada. Or, you might have to enter your boat into the Small Vessel Registry. While these processes may sound similar, you should get to know the difference between a vessel license and registration.

Much of your vessel documentation matters will be routed through Transport Canada. This national agency, which is accountable to Parliament, is charged with managing transportation throughout the country, which includes the traffic on our waterways. A part of this duty is carried out by issuing licenses and maintaining a registry of vessels. This allows Transport Canada to better observe and protect our waters.

A Key Difference Between Vessel License and Registration

A vessel license, officially known as a Pleasure Craft License, serves as a sort of registration for your boat. You should think of it in similar terms to motor vehicle registration. All motorized vessels with engines of 10 or more horsepower are required to obtain a PCL in Canada. Once issued, a PCL is good for a period of 10 years, at which point it will need to be renewed (which you can do online at our site). When you receive a PCL, you are given a registration number, which must be placed on both sides of your vessel’s bow, above the waterline, and in letters at least three inches high.

Vessel registration, while very similar in name, is different from a vessel license. In Canada, any boat engaging in commercial activity (such as commercial fishing), carrying a marine mortgage, or traveling internationally under the Canadian flag must be registered. This service, like a PCL, is available to all, and it does come with a few key benefits. For one, it allows you to display the flag. For another, you receive a completely individual name of your choice for your boat. Additionally, when a vessel is registered, it does not require a PCL–simply having an official name will suffice.

Difference Between License And Registration

Getting Your Documents Online the Easy Way

So, now that you know the differences between Pleasure Craft Licenses and vessel registration, you can make a more informed decision about which pathway is right for you. Once you have made that choice, you can visit Transport Canada’s website, locate the correct PDFs, print them out, fill them in by hand, and mail your application to the correct government office.

Or you can save time and energy by working with us. We offer a number of easy-to-read online forms for all of your Transport Canada documentation needs. To learn more, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact us by email.