This summary is provided for convenience only. Get current details from
Canada's Office of Boating Safety, which regulates recreational boating.
Do you Have the Card?
All Canadian boat operators must carry proof of competency - normally a Pleasure Craft Operator Card - to operate a boat with a motor. It's often referred to as "the Card", licence, or PCOC. New testing requirements come into effect in 2011 (see below).
Who must carry proof of competency?
- Everyone operating a boat with a motor (including electric)
- Operators under 16 cannot operate personal watercraft (PWC).
- Operators under 12 are restricted to 10 hp (7.5kw) unless
supervised by someone 16+.
- Operators 12-16 years old are restricted to 40 hp (30kw) unless
supervised by someone 16+.
- There is no legal minimum age to get the Card.
New testing requirements come into effect in 2011
Starting April 15, 2011, the federal government will increase the requirements for getting the Pleasure Craft Operator Card to improve boating safety in Canada. The number of questions will be increased from 36 to 50. The test will also be standardized, with questions being set by the government instead of testing agencies. Also, students using an Internet exam will be required to spend at least 3 hours studying the online course material before writing the exam.
After ten years phasing in the program, the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations require operators (as described above) of pleasure craft fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes to carry proof of competency. Fines up to $250 will be given for non-compliance.
Electric trolling motors, canoes or dinghies with motors (even when being rowed), and PWCs are all considered motorized craft; sailboats, dinghies, canoes and kayaks without motors are not.
There are special rules for renters (see below).
Non-residents and visitors are exempt if boating in Canada less than 45 days during the year.
In Ontario, you must also have a boat driver's licence to operate a boat in Toronto Harbour and Hamilton Harbour. Get these from the port authority in each city.
Seen on twitter.com: Dallas Clique @_dallasclique_
It’s okay to fail. Failure is the only pathway to success.
Look at Spongebob, he failed boating school how many times???
I’m like 90% certain he has his license now.
- 2009 September 15: Deadline for all boater operators to carry proof of competency after ten years of phasing in the program.
Estimates suggest that only three million of Canada's approximately 10 million boaters had qualified by the deadline date. (CBC.CA
- 2007: Transport Canada announced plans to tighten testing standards. Only two million Canadian boaters have cards. [Boating in Canada News]
- 2006: In Ontario impaired boating results in the suspension of your driving license, just as if the offence had taken place on the roads.
- 2004: Transport Canada manages the Office of Boat Safety.
- 1999-2004: The Coast Guard and Office of Boat Safety (pleasure boat policy)
were managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
- 1999: If you passed a boating safety course before April 1, 1999, the course certificate may be recognized, and a "Card" obtained from the training organization.
- 1999: The Northwest and Nunavut Territories exempt from PCOC requirements.
Proof of Competency
- Proof of competency can be a Pleasure Craft Operator Card;
proof of successful completion of a boating safety course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999; or a completed rental-boat safety checklist.
Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) will be the most common way boaters will prove competency. The PCOC can be obtained from a "federally approved agency". You take a boating safety course, pass a short test, then pay a fee for your card. You have to pass a multiple choice exam of 36 questions with at least 27 (75%) correct answers about boating regulations, marine emergencies, operating a boat, and terminology. The card is good for life. You can study on your own, take classroom instruction, or "challenge" the test from one of the accredited test provider. If you take the test online (right), you must have a “proctor” register to confirm proper supervision during the test. Boating Safety Accredited Courses are authorized by the federal Office of Boating Safety and given by accredited private companies.
- Boat Rental operators will be given a dockside test to replace the requirement for a PCOC. If you rent a cottage that comes with a fishing boat or a charter boat with a dinghy, call the Office of Boating Safety to see if a card is required.
- Visiting or non-resident boaters will be exempt if their stay is shorter than 45 days. Operator card issued by your state or country will be considered as proof of competency. NASBLA issued cards are recognized for U.S. citizens. (All 16 U.S. states along the Canadian border either have mandatory boater education programs in place or being phased in.)