® | Official Canadian Boating License

Registering a boat in Canada

If you own a boat in Canada, it is important to properly register or license it in order to legally operate it on the province’s waterways. In this article, we will outline the process of licensing and registering a boat in Canada. We will also explain the difference between boat licensing and boat registration.

Table of Contents

The Difference Between Boat Licensing And Boat Registration In Canada

Boat licensing (Pleasure Craft License) and boat registration (Vessel Registration) are two separate processes in Canada. Pleasure Craft licensing is the process of obtaining a license for a small, non-commercial boat that is used for recreational purposes. Vessel registration, on the other hand, is the process of registering larger, generally commercial, vessels.

Pleasure Craft License

If you own a non-commercial boat in Canada, powered by an engine or engines of 10 hp (7.5 KW) horsepower or more, including Personal Watercraft (PWC), you will need to obtain a pleasure craft license. Alternatively to licensing your boat, you can register it with Transport Canada even if it is not used for commercial purposes.

A pleasure craft license is a document that provides your boat with a unique license number, which is valid for 10 years. Pleasure craft license paperwork must be kept on board at all times when the boat is being operated.

How To Get A Pleasure Craft License In canada

To obtain a pleasure craft license, you will need to follow these steps:

  • You can obtain a pleasure craft license by applying online or by mail. An advantage of applying online is that you receive an acknowledgment number. This number, when marked on the side of your pleasure craft, allows you to use your pleasure craft for 90 days while you await your Pleasure Craft License.

  • To apply online, visit the following Transport Canada website:

  • To apply by mail. Download and fill out the following document:

  • Provide proof of ownership of the boat. This can include a bill of sale, a transfer of ownership document, or a manufacturer’s statement of origin.

  • Submit the completed form and proof of ownership to Transport Canada. You can do this online, by mail, or in person at a Service Canada Centre. If mailing the application, mail it along with the other required documents to the following Transport Canada address:

    Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
    P.O. Box 2006
    Fredericton, New Brunswick
    E3B 5G4

  • Pay the required fee. The fee for a pleasure craft license is $15, and it is valid for 10 years.

How To Display Your License Number On Your Boat

Boat License Number Canada

To display your pleasure craft license number on your boat, you must follow these guidelines:

Display the license number on both sides of the bow.

  • Display it above the waterline.
  • Display it as far forward as practical.
  • Display it where it is easy to see.

The license characters must also meet these requirements:

  • Be in block letters.
  • Be at least 7.5 cm (3”) high.
  • Be a color that contrasts with the background.

It’s important to make sure that your pleasure craft license number is displayed correctly on your boat, as this is required by law.

How To Change Your Name Or Address On Pleasure Craft License In Canada

A Pleasure Craft License is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of issuance, transfer, or renewal. If you need to make any updates to your license, such as a change of name or address, you must do so within 90 days through the Pleasure Craft Licensing Center online or by mail.

Your pleasure craft may be operated without an accurate name or date on the license for up to 90 days as long as you carry documents that confirm the change of name or address on board at all times until you receive your updated Pleasure Craft License paperwork. Note that making updates to your license does not extend its validity period.

Transferring Boat Ownership In Canada

If you are transferring ownership of a pleasure craft, the new owner must update the license to reflect the change in ownership within 90 days of the purchase. This can be done through the Pleasure Craft Licensing Center online or by mail.

During this time, the new owner must carry proof of purchase documents on board at all times until they receive their updated Pleasure Craft License paperwork. It’s important to note that the same rules apply for transferring ownership as for making other updates to the license.

For more information, please visit the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centers website:

Vessel Registration in Canada

In Canada, you are required to register your vessel in the Canadian Register of Vessels if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • It is a commercial vessel with a gross tonnage of 15 or more and is powered by motors totaling 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more.
  • It will have a marine mortgage.
  • It needs a reserved name.
  • It will be traveling outside of Canada.
  • If you own a commercial vessel in Canada, you must register it with Transport Canada. This includes boats such as fishing boats, ferries, and tugboats.

Vessel registration is different from licensing. Vessel registration is the title of ownership of a boat, which includes the official vessel name and the name of the owner(s). Registration of a Pleasure Craft is voluntary.

When a boat is registered, it is given a unique name and registration number. The name and port of registry of the vessel must be displayed on the stern of the vessel.

How To Register A Vessel

To register a vessel in Canada, the owner must be qualified, which means they must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or corporation.

In order to register a vessel, you will need to follow these steps:

How Much Does It Cost To Register A Vessel In Canada

In Canada, it costs $250 to register a vessel. This fee includes the cost of reserving your vessel’s name. Keep in mind that there may be other fees or costs associated with registering a vessel, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

How Long It May Take To Process Your Vessel Registration In Canada

Transport Canada can take up to 30 working days to process your application excluding any delays incurred to obtain missing information and/or documentation.

Benefits Of Registering A Boat In Canada

The benefits of registering a boat in Canada include :

  • Proof of ownership (legal title) for your boat;
  • The right to fly the Canadian flag;
  • A unique name and official number for your boat; and
  • The right to use your boat as security for a marine mortgage.

For more information, please visit the Transport Canada’s Vessel Registry website:

The difference between a Pleasure Craft License and a Pleasure Craft Operator Card

It’s important not to confuse the pleasure craft license and vessel registration with the pleasure craft operator card. These are three separate documents that pertain to different aspects of boating in Canada.

The pleasure craft license and vessel registration are for the vessel itself, while the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) is a boating license that is required for anyone operating a motorized vessel in Canadian waters. To boat legally in Canadian waters, you may need to have both a pleasure craft license or registered vessel and a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, depending on the type of vessel you are using.

A Canadian boating license is more than just a legal requirement – it is also an opportunity to increase your boating knowledge and become a safer and more responsible boat operator. By learning about the rules of the water, required safety equipment, and proper boating practices, you can help to prevent accidents and ensure an enjoyable experience for yourself and others on the water. Try out our free practice test if already have your PCOC and want to brush up on your boating knowledge.

In addition to increasing your safety on the water, having a boating license can also give you peace of mind knowing that you are operating your boat legally and responsibly. This can be especially important if you are involved in an accident or incident on the water, as having a valid boating license may be a requirement for obtaining insurance coverage or receiving legal assistance.

Overall, getting your Canadian boating license is a smart choice for anyone who owns a boat in Canada. Whether you are an experienced boater or a beginner, taking the time to increase your knowledge and obtain your license can make all the difference in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.


Boating License (PCOC)

Transport Canada approved Boater Safety Course is free.
Take the course in your own time and risk free.

Other providers try to get you to pay upfront before you even have a chance to try out their course!

Accredited Logo
Transport Canada
330 Sparks Street, Ottawa
Ontario, Canada. K1A 0N8

OVER  2,000,000

Canadian Boaters License

ACCREDITED.® is accredited by Transport Canada to deliver boating safety courses and administer tests for the issuance of Pleasure Craft Operator Cards, including replacement cards, under the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations.


Boating License