So, you're buying a boat.  Maybe you've heard that you need to register your boat, while others have told you that you have to get a licence.  What do I need to know to make the right decision?  

registration boat

The first question to ask before obtaining a registration is whether you really need one, as it is not mandatory. Instead of registration, you can get a pleasure craft license.

Registration is required only if the boat meets one of the following criteria:

  • The boat must be commercial and have a motor of 10 horsepower or more;
  • The boat will have a marine mortgage;
  • The new owner wants a reserved name for the boat;
  • The new owner wants to travel outside Canada.

If not, apply for a Pleasure Craft Licence, which is more likely to meet your needs and is easier to obtain.

How do I register a boat in Canada?

To register a vessel in Canada, you must submit:

A registration form

A statement of qualification for vessel registration

An appointment of authorized representative

Toll-free telephone: 1-877-242-8770

How much does it cost to register a boat in Canada?

$250. For the registration or re-registration of a Certificate of Registry.

You must carry registration documents on board the vessel at all times, together with any other ownership documents, to help avoid delays clearing U.S. or Canada customs, or in case of a fine. 

This law does not apply if the boat is registered or licensed in accordance with the laws of another country and not principally maintained or operated in Canada, for a life raft or other survival craft that is part of the equipment of a ship, as well as for an amphibious vehicle for which a provincial automobile licence for highway travel is required.

Do I need to license my boat in Canada (pleasure craft license)?

You must license your pleasure craft license if your boat has a motor of 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more, unless it is registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels. 

How do I license my boat in Canada? (Pleasure Craft License)

There is no fee to get a licence from Transport Canada, and there are forms you need to file with the agency so that you can obtain your licence.

To license a vessel in Canada, you must submit a vessel Pleasure craft licence form to Transport Canada

Toll-free telephone: 1-800-267-6687

When is it necessary to have a boating license (PCOC) in Canada?

Everyone who operates a power-driven boat needs proof of competency — something that shows they understand the basic rules and how to safely operate a boat. The most common proof of competency is the boating license also called pleasure craft operator card. You can get the card by taking a boating safety course in-person or online, and passing the test at the end of the course.