Boat Registration and Licensing: Learn the Difference

Boat Registration and Licensing: Learn the Difference

Photo credit: Geran de Klerk via Unsplash


Have you obtained your PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operator Card)? It means you are ready to hit the water. Before boating, the captain should know the type of boat. Some boats need a license or registration, so you have to check the rules of your state. A boat with 10 or more horsepower motor requires a license. Keep it in mind that only a registered boat can get a marine mortgage and can travel out of Canada.

Before taking appropriate steps, you have to understand the main differences between an Ontario boating license and registry. The captain can decide any one of them but understand their purpose and differences first.

Licensing for Pleasure Crafts

A pleasure craft vessel’s license is a document containing an exclusive license number. This number becomes the identification of this boat. In emergencies, your boat will be identified with this number. Anyone can apply for this license online. After receiving this document, the captain is responsible for the proper use of this license. Make sure to keep this physical license with you every time on the boat.

For your safety, you can lock this license in the vessel. You have to pay a fine of $250 for boating without this license. Moreover, the specific identification number of your boat should be displayed on both sides of your boat. Make sure to choose contrasting colors and block letters to write this number. The display should be 7 ½ centimeters tall.

The Captain is responsible for ensuring the possession of an up-to-date and correct license. This license will be valid for ten years. Make sure to renew this license after ten years. Similar to original license, you can apply for a renewed license by an official website or mail. The license must have updated information, such as your address, name and relevant details on your license.

If you have recently purchased a boat, you can operate it without any license in the initial 90 days. During this period, the captain must carry necessary documentation detailing his address, name, and proof of acquisition date.    

Registration for a Vessel

Boat owners and captains can get their boat registered instead of obtaining a license for it. Both things need a different procedure. The primary differences between registration and licensing are their fees. Licensed pleasure crafts have identification numbers to display, and registered vessels get different markings. The boat’s exterior is marked with the boat’s name and registry port. For instance, The Liquid Assets, Toronto, ON.

Similar to the identification number on licensed boats, the name of your vessel is essential for rescue and search operations. The rescue officers will need this name to find you in emergencies. Make sure to choose a concise, clear and short name so that rescue personnel can remember it to search you if required. The inside of your boat will contain the registered tonnage and the official number of your boat.

If your boat needs a maritime mortgage or you have to travel out of Canada, you have to register your vessel. In this situation, you can’t choose between registering and licensing.

After reading these requirements, you can choose between licensing and registering your vessel. If your boat meets any of these requirements, you have to choose any one of these options. For any questions about licensing and registering your vessel in Quebec, contact the boat registration office of your area. With registry or license of a boat, you must have a card to operate pleasure craft to prove that you are a certified boater. Join an approved boating/vessel safety Canadian course before hitting the water in Canada.