What is a boating license?
In all provinces of Canada, the terms "boating license", "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 here 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Not having enough approved lifejackets on board = $200 per count
- Careless operation = $200
- Speeding = $100
- Allowing someone under age to operate a boat = $250
- Operating a powered watercraft if you are underage = $100
- Operating a powered watercraft without a working muffler = $100
- Towing a person without the aid of a spotter = $100
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.
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)