What is a Boat Compliance Notice?

February 8, 2023

If you own a boat, you need a boat compliance notice.

A compliance notice is issued by the manufacturer or importer. It certifies that the vessel meets the standards set out in the Government of Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations. Manufacturers and importers are responsible for preparing and providing the document.

We explain the contents and requirements of a boat compliance notice.

What is a boat compliance notice for?

A boat compliance notice is an official document held by the vessel’s captain, certifying that a boat complies with up-to-date safety, performance and environmental regulations. A compliance notice must follow the format and specifications defined by Transport Canada.

A boat compliance notice is usually issued by a certification body or an accredited inspection center. It is typically only required to operate your boat and may also be necessary to participate in specific events. For example, you may need one as proof that your boat complies with the safety rules of a regatta or boating competition.

Who needs a boat compliance notice?

Various people within the nautical industry will need compliance notices:

  • Boat owners: Licensed boaters need a valid notice to operate safely and as proof of meeting applicable standards and following regulations
  • Importers and boat builders
  • Dealers: Vendors need valid compliance notices for the boats they sell
  • Owners of fleets of boats that operate on inland waters or at sea

It important to note that specific requirements may vary depending on the standards and regulations of your flag state (the country where your boat is registered).

What type of information does a boat compliance notice contain?

A compliance notice contains basic information about the boat (name, boat registration, serial number, date of construction, etc.) and the standards to which it conforms (construction, safety, performance, environmental or international standards).

It may also include technical inspection information or information on safety equipment and navigation systems.

The notice could also display details related to various safety and navigation certificates: their date of issue, validity date, name of the maritime authority that issued the certificate, etc.

Boat compliance notice requirements

There are specific requirements when it comes to using or requesting a compliance notice. You should always keep these in mind, and remember that they can vary depending on the laws of the country where your boat is registered.

Our boating safety experts list some common general requirements below.

1. Conformity to construction standards

Boat owners must ensure that their vessels meet the construction standards set out in the Government of Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations. These standards include safety, performance and environmental protection requirements. You may also need to ensure that your boat meets certain international standards.

2. Technical inspections

Every boat must be inspected by a certification body or accredited inspection center to ensure that it meets the above-mentioned standards of the Government of Canada’s  Small Vessel Regulations. For example, any pleasure craft less than 24 metres in length that could be equipped with a motor must display a compliance notice in a place that is visible from the helm.

3. Vessel Safety Certificate

Boats must be equipped with a Vessel Safety Certificate issued by competent maritime authorities.

4. Navigation Certifications

These official documents certify that your vessel meets the safety and performance standards required for navigation. They are generally required for vessels used for commercial or scientific purposes, such as fishing vessels, ferries, passenger vessels, scuba diving vessels and research vessels.

Types of Compliance Notices

There are 2 common types of boat compliance notices: “capacity labels” and “compliance labels”.

1. Compliance notices for boats under 6 meters

You will need a “compliance notice for boats under 6 metres” if your boat falls under the category of vessels measuring less than 6 metres (19′ 8″).

Also known as a “capacity label”, this notice sets safety limits related to load capacity, the number of people on board and engine power.

This compliance notice must include a certificate stating that your boat complies with the construction requirements in effect on the date of construction or importation of the boat.

2. Compliance notice for boats over 6 meters

If your boat is longer than 6 metres, its compliance notice must indicate whether it meets pleasure craft or non-pleasure craft construction requirements.

If the vessel is declared suitable for use as a pleasure craft, it will be issued a “compliance label”, which prevents it from being used for anything other than recreational purposes.

Your boat may be certified for other types of use if it has been modified to meet these additional requirements:

  • Stability Assessment
  • Requirements for auxiliary machinery
  • Additional fire protection

Boat safely with the National Boating Safety School

A boat conformity notice is a document issued by a recognized certification body stating that a vessel meets current safety and construction standards. This document is often necessary to register a boat with maritime authorities.

If you wish to purchase a pleasure boat or obtain a boat license, the National Boating Safety School offers the official online boating exam. Contact us now for more information – we will be happy to help you!

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