Do I Need A Boat License To Drive A Boat When In Canada

Do I need a boat license to drive a boat when boating in Canada? Technically, the boat needs a license, the operator needs confirmation of competency provided by a certificate known as the PCOC. National pleasure regulations provide that recreational boaters must have that certification.

The PCOC is not a license. There is no expiration date, it cannot be withdrawn or temporarily suspended. There is no government fee collected when it is issued. The PCOC is considered a proof of competency.

The administrative procedure for obtaining a PCOC is straight-forward. It can be obtained by passing a short test consisting of 36 questions all of which are multiple-choice. The maximum time allowed for the test is 45 minutes. To pass the test, the applicant must obtain a mark of 75 percent or more.

The exam tests competency for several key boating skills including safety equipment; buoy system; sharing waterways with other boats; boating rules and regulations; equipping and operating a boat safely; navigation aids; vessel maintenance; and responding to distress situations.

The proof of competency requirement is broad in its application. All operators of powered recreational vessels requires a pleasure craft operator card. No exemption is permitted for age, size of boat or engine. A powered craft refers to any pleasure boat, personal watercraft, or other craft (including sailing vessels) fitted with a motor of any size, including an electric troll motor. There is no “grandfather” clause or age exemption; all pleasure craft operators will be required to obtain an operator card.

The associated courses and testing are offered by private firms that have been accredited by the national transport authority, Transport Canada. A fee is charged for the course and the exam. If failed, the exam can be taken again without limit, except that the test cannot be taken more than once in a 24-hour period. No fee is charged for retries of the test.

The operator of any recreational vessel must have a PCOC onboard at all times if that vessel is fitted with a motor. The motor does not have to be operating for the regulation to apply. Failure to meet this requirement may attract a $250.00 penalty, plus costs. This regulation does not apply to non-residents who are in Canadian waters for less than 45 consecutive days. In these instances, proof of residence must be produced.

The licensing regime for recreational vessels is administered by Transport Canada. Enforcement, however, is conducted by the officers of various regional police authorities such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), depending on the specific province or jurisdiction.

The question, do I need a boat license to drive a boat, is easy to answer in Canada. The operator of a recreational boat requires a PCOC not a license. The vessel, not the skipper, requires a license if it is fitted with an engine of 10 horsepower or more. The original vessel license certificate must be carried on board at all times. The PCOC regulations do not apply to commercial vessels; they are governed by a separate set of regulations.
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Taking the boat on Lake Ontario this weekend? Don’t get caught without a
boat license. Take time today to sit a boat test. You can take the test online and get a pleasure craft operator card.Unleash your inner Magellan. Sort out a boating license today!