Pleasure Craft Registration Rules

August 24, 2021

Are you a pleasure craft owner wondering whether you need to register your vessel? You’ve come to the right place!

In this article, find out what vessel registration is, when it is required, and what steps to follow to register your boat.

This article also explains the difference between vessel registration, the pleasure craft license and the pleasure craft operator card, three documents that every boater should be able to differentiate.

What is vessel registration?

When you register a vessel in Canada, it is listed in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

The register is a kind of ownership verification system that is managed by Transport Canada and contains a wealth of information about registered vessels, such as:

  • Owner’s name
  • Type of vessel
  • Tonnage
  • Materials
  • And more

By registering your vessel, your boat’s name is reserved and you get permission to fly the Canadian flag and a unique identification number for a period of 3 years.

A renewal form is sent to the vessel’s owner or their representative 30 days before the registration certificate expires. If the boat is still in use, renewal is mandatory, because valid registration documents must be kept in the boat at all times.

Transport Canada must be informed if the boat changes ownership.

Registration is optional for pleasure crafts

Under the Canada Shipping Act 2001, registration is optional for all pleasure crafts, regardless of tonnage or length.

Registration is only required if the craft meets one of the following criteria:

  • The craft is a commercial vessel with a gross tonnage of 15 or more and is powered by motors totalling 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more
  • The craft will have a marine mortgage
  • The craft needs a reserved name
  • The craft will be traveling outside of Canada

Most pleasure boaters navigating in Quebec and Canadian waters won’t need to register their craft.

How to register a boat in Canada

To register a vessel in Canada, you must submit an application to Transport Canada. You will need to include several documents in your application and pay a fee of $250.

The difference between vessel registration, pleasure craft licenses and pleasure craft operator cards

As mentioned above, registration is optional for pleasure crafts, but it’s important not to confuse registration with the pleasure craft license or pleasure craft operator card.

A pleasure craft license is required for all pleasure crafts that are powered by motors totaling 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more, unless they are registered. The pleasure craft license comes with an identification number that provides important information to search and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency. The number must be displayed on both sides of the bow above the waterline.

The pleasure craft operator card is proof of competency that boaters can obtain by passing a boating safety course online or in person. In Canada, all boaters who operate pleasure crafts powered by motors must have their official boat license with them at all times while boating.

The National Boating Safety School helps boaters comply with regulations

Not all pleasure crafts need to be registered. Only those that meet certain criteria will need to be listed in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

While you may not need vessel registration depending on your situation, remember that you must have your pleasure craft operator card with you at all times in order to legally operate a boat in Canadian waters. Before setting off, get your boating license if you haven’t already!


Get your card today