Vessel Licensing and Registration

These are not to be confused with a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) which is an operator competency certificate required to operate any powered vessel. The Pleasure Craft License is the ID numbers that are attached to each side of the bow on your boat and are accompanied by a Pleasure Craft License document, a copy of which must be kept on the boat at all times.

It is required for any powered vessel that has one or more motors that add up to 7.5 kW (10hp) or greater unless the boat is registered (see below). Tenders or dinghies that are carried on board or towed behind a licensed boat must also be licensed. This document is similar to a motor vehicle ownership certificate in that it contains information about the boat and its owner and also contains a section that must be completed and submitted by the new owner when the boat is sold.

The license is free and you can get it from any Service Canada office. If you are buying a boat the original license certificate should be supplied by the current owner. You can also change any contact information at the Service Canada office. The license is good for ten years after which time all information must be updated. Go to for more information.

Regulations require you display the Pleasure Craft License on both sides of the bow, above the waterline and as far forward as is practical. The numbers and letters must be in block and at least 7.5 cm (3”) high. Their colour must contrast with the background. You may choose to get a vessel license for safety reasons if your boat does not require one. This will help Search and Rescue personnel get information about your boat 7/24.

A Pleasure Craft License does not prove ownership and Service Canada and Transport Canada cannot confirm ownership so when entering another country carry a bill of sale along with the Pleasure Craft License. Don’t forget the same for tenders and dinghies.

Failure to produce these documents can cause delays, trouble and possibly fines when clearing customs.

Boat Registration

It is no longer required to register a boat that is over 15 gross tons but you can still choose to do so. There are costs to registering a boat but there are also a number of benefits which include:

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

For more information contact Transport Canada or go to