What is a boating licence?
In all provinces of Canada, the terms "boating licence", "boat operator card",
and "boater card" always refer to the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).
A PCOC is the same size and thickness and is made of the same material
as a credit card and it looks like this:
Why am I required to carry a PCOC when operating a powered watercraft?
Approximately 200 boating fatalities (and as many as 6,000 non-fatal
accidents) occur annually on Canadian waters. The Pleasure Craft
Operator Card program was introduced more than two decades ago in
an attempt to reduce the number of boating-related injuries and
fatalities. And it is working; since the implementation of the program,
boating fatalities in Canada have declined steadily.
Who has to carry a PCOC?
All persons regardless of age or nationality must
carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card when operating a powered watercraft
on any Canadian waters. The term "powered watercraft" includes watercraft
fitted with any type or size of motor (even an electric trolling motor).
The PCOC is mandatory in all provinces in Canada. Failure to carry
a PCOC on you when operating a power-driven pleasure craft in Canada
will result in a fine of $250 (plus administration charges).
How can I get my PCOC?
The most common way to get a PCOC is to complete a Transport Canada-accredited
PCOC course followed by the official PCOC exam.
In Canada, PCOCs are issued by course providers that have been accredited
by Transport Canada to offer the PCOC course in preparation for an
official PCOC exam. Click
to see Transport Canada’s official list of accredited PCOC course providers.
Are all PCOC courses the same?
All PCOC courses are written to comply with the same Transport Canada
course syllabus. As a result, the content of the various PCOC courses
is the same.
However, the prices charged for a PCOC program (PCOC course, PCOC
exam, and official PCOC) can be as high as $49.95. Whereas, freecourse.ca
charges only $24.95 for everything (official PCOC
course, official PCOC exam, and official permanent PCOC).
If all PCOC courses are so similar, why do their prices differ?
Some course providers have very high profit margins as well as very
high overhead costs (for instance, many spend heavily to advertise
in traditional media, on social media, on online search engines,
and in other marketing channels). We, on the other hand, have slim
profit margins and lower overhead costs and we pass the savings on
to our clients.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common questions on all aspects of Canadian
PCOC regulations. If you have a question that should be added to
this list, please send it to:
In Canada, failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card while
operating a powered watercraft risks a fine of $250 (plus administrative
charges). Other common boating offences and their associated fines
(not including administrative charges) include:
Not having enough approved lifejackets on board =
$200 per count
Careless operation =
Allowing someone under age to operate a boat =
Operating a powered watercraft if you are underage =
Operating a powered watercraft without a working muffler =
Towing a person without the aid of a spotter =
No. The requirement to carry a PCOC when operating a powered
watercraft on any Canadian waters applies to all operators,
regardless of age.
The PCOC regulations are enforced by provincial, county, municipal,
and river and harbour police forces as well as by any persons
that the Minister of Transport designates as enforcement officers.
In addition to carrying a PCOC, the regulations require powered
watercraft operators to carry proof of age.
If your sailboat is not fitted with a propulsion engine, then
you do not need to carry a PCOC but if your sailboat is fitted
with any type of propulsion engine, then you must carry a PCOC
when operating that sailboat (even while you are under sail and
the engine is not operating).
The PCOC is valid (and mandatory) in all Canadian provinces.
A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) is
a certificate (proof of competency) and is for the operator
of a boat. The PCOC is not a license; think of a PCOC as being
equivalent to a driver education certificate.
A Pleasure Craft License (PCL) is a document
with a unique licence number for a particular pleasure craft
(a pleasure craft is any vessel used for pleasure, recreation,
or daily living). The PCL number serves as identification
for that watercraft and allows search and rescue personnel
to access important information in an emergency. No fee is
required to get this licence. Every pleasure craft must have
a Pleasure Craft Licence, with the following exceptions:
A pleasure craft using only a motor with less than 10
horsepower (7.5 kW); or
A pleasure craft that has been registered; or
A pleasure craft that was purchased less than 90 days
previously (this is a grace period, during which the
new owner must carry documentation that bears their
name, address, and the purchase date).
There are two ways to apply for a Pleasure Craft Licence.
Apply by mail: Print and complete the Application for
Pleasure Craft Licence and mail it along with the required
Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
P.O. Box 2006
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Apply online: Access the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing
System and follow all instructions.
After you receive your Pleasure Craft Licence document in
the mail, you must use it as follows:
Carry the Pleasure Craft Licence document on board at
all times; and
Display the license number on both sides of your boat’s
bow. The number must appear in block characters which are:
- At least 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) high; and
- In a colour that contrasts with the colour of the bow.
There is a $250 fine if you are found operating a vessel without
a Pleasure Craft Licence number.
No. A driver’s permit is not required to operate a powered watercraft
but you must carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (and official
ID with your date of birth) when operating a powered watercraft.
Non-residents need to obtain a PCOC if they are operating their
powered watercraft in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive
days or if the boat they are operating is registered or licensed
in Canada (this includes rented boats).
Horsepower restrictions for young people can be summarized as follows:
|Under 12 years of age and unsupervised
||Can operate a boat with under 10 HP (7.5 KW)
|12 to 16 years of age and unsupervised
||Can operate a boat with under 40 HP (30 KW)
|Under 16 years of age
||Not allowed to operate a PWC*
|16 years and older
||No power restrictions
* PWC = Personal water craft (examples: Seadoo, Jet ski)
A PCOC is not yet legally required to operate a rented powerboat
but most rental companies now require renters to hold a valid
PCOC to rent their boats.