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Abandoned boats or wrecks

Dispose of your boat


There comes a time in every boat owner’s life when they no longer want or need their boat.

If the boat is still in good condition, you may choose to sell it. If you do, make sure that the ownership documents and the licence or registration are properly transferred.

Note: Many people who sell registered boats do not know that, if the new owner does not complete the transfer of ownership as specified in Part 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the registered owner could still be liable for the vessel.

If the boat is in poor condition or no longer runs, you should plan for responsible disposal.

How can I get rid of my boat when it’s not worth selling?

Don’t let your boat become a wreck. This will save you time and money. Options for disposing of your boat vary across Canada:

  • Find a boat recycling facility in your area.
  • Search for charities or companies in your region that may want your boat.
  • Ask the nearest landfill operator if they accept old boats.
  • Ask local boat retailers if they take old boats in trade.

What to do if you want to take possession of and remove an abandoned boat or salvage a wreck.

Taking possession of an abandoned boat before it becomes a wreck saves time and money. However, if it has heritage or military value, do not touch it! Contact Transport Canada’s nearest regional office.

If you find and want an abandoned boat or a wreck, and you:

  • know the owner, contact the owner directly
  • do not know the owner, use these tips to locate the owner

Otherwise, contact Transport Canada for more information and assistance.

Program officers will respond on a case-by-case basis, within the limits of Transport Canada’s authority.

For example, under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, when someone finds and takes possession of a wreck, the “Receiver of Wreck” will try to locate the owner. The Act gives authority to the Receiver of Wreck to dispose of or destroy a wreck (e.g. sell, give away or destroy) or to authorize its disposal or destruction by a salvor when the owner is unknown.

The Receiver of Wreck may do so in 90 days after a wreck has been reported. The Receiver of Wreck may take action sooner if:

  • its value is less than $5,000;
  • storage costs will likely be greater than the value of the wreck; or
  • it poses a threat to public health or safety.
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