Are you legally required to license your boat in Canada?

Yes, if you own a pleasure craft, boat or vessel for recreational purposes in Canada, you are required by law to license it with Transport Canada. A boat license is required for all motorized boats, as well as sailboats that are equipped with engines. It helps ensure that your boat meets Canadian safety and environmental standards, and it also provides proof of ownership.

A pleasure craft licence is also a unique identification number. It helps trace a vessel to its owner. In an emergency, law enforcement and search and rescue organizations can use this number to locate a vessel. You will be fined $250 if your pleasure craft does not have a valid licence or is not registered within 30 days of taking ownership.

How to license a boat in Canada

You will first need to determine if you require a license, but basically, any vessel that has a motor over 7.5 kW (10 hp) will need a license.

List of documents you will need

If you are the boat owner, you will need the following documents for a license:

1. Proof of ownership or a bill of sale. Valid proof of ownership (depending on the application type) includes the following:

  • Bills of sale
  • Statutory declarations
  • Wills and bequests
  • Separation or divorce agreements
  • Court judgements
  • Signed agreements of transfer of ownership (sale/purchase agreement)

2. Valid government-issued identification for each owner
3. A full side-view colour photograph of the pleasure craft – must be of your exact boat, not a stock photo of the type of boat.

In addition, if someone other than the boat owner is applying for a license you will need to include a Third-Party Authorization Letter. You can apply online with Transport Canada  or you can download the application and mail your applications and documents.

“There is no fee for a pleasure craft license in Canada. But comes with a $250 fine, if your boat is not licensed within 30 days of taking ownership.”

How much does it cost for a boat license in Canada?

There is no fee to license a pleasure craft in Canada. Owners are subject to pay taxes on the vessel once licensed in their name.

Anything else regarding boat license?

You may also need to obtain additional documentation, such as a pleasure craft operator card, depending on the size and type of your boat, as well as the area where you plan to operate it. It’s important to check with Transport Canada or your local boating authority for specific requirements in your province or the location you will be operating your boat.

If I choose not to license my boat will it affect my boat insurance?

If you choose to not license your boat in Canada, it could potentially affect your insurance, especially in a claim situation. Most insurance providers require that the boat be licensed with Transport Canada to be eligible for coverage, and evidence of the pleasure craft license is required by most insurers, to settle a claim.

In addition, if you are involved in an accident or other incident while operating an unlicensed boat, your insurance provider may deny your claim, if the license cannot be provided confirming your insurable interest in the vessel, resulting in significant financial loss.

Keep in mind that failure to properly license your boat within 30 days of possession, can result in fines and other penalties, so it’s important to make sure you are following all applicable laws and regulations.

5 Reasons why you need a boat license by PMU

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Transport Canada Marine Transportation: Vessel licensing.

Licensing a pleasure craft
Office of Boating Safety
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-267-6687

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Boating license requirements and boat safety in Canada

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