Radar Reflectors on boats - Requirements in Canada? Transport Canada

Radar reflector

A radar reflector is a device that can be attached to a boat to make it more visible on radar

Do I need a radar reflector on my boat in Canada?

Radar reflectors are required for boats under 20m (65’7”) and boats that are built of mostly non-metallic materials.

There are some exceptions where a radar reflector is not required.

  • If you are operating your vessel in limited traffic conditions, daylight hours and in favorable environmental conditions, a radar reflector is not needed because it isn’t essential to the boat’s safety.

  • The small size of your boat and/or its operation away from radar navigation and large shipping lanes might make having a radar reflector impracticable and, therefore, is not needed.

Where is the best place to install a radar reflector on a boat?

Reflectors should be placed higher than all superstructures and at least 4 m (13’1”) above the water if practical.

A radar reflector should be located above all superstructures. Height is very important, so also keep this in mind that the higher you can position the radar reflector the better it is.  

When buying a reflector, there is no substitute for size — so buy the biggest one that is practical for your boat. Both the Collision Regulations and the Rules of the Road for the Great Lakes require a vessel that is less than 20 meters in length or is primarily constructed of non-metallic materials to carry a passive radar reflector that meets the required standards.

Small boats are generally not identifiable by radar by large ships because they are mainly constructed of non-metallic materials and because their superstructure is small. In bad weather, they are often not visible because of mist. When they are in the hollow of a blade and even in good visibility, the fact that they are very low on the horizon makes them difficult to see from the bridge of a large ship. At night, their navigation lights may well go unnoticed because of shore lights in the background. It is important that small boats use radar reflectors to signal their presence to other vessels in the area, especially in poor visibility.

Radar reflector