Regulations For Boating In Canada

Canada is in the process of making boater education a requirement for all boat operators. The Pleasure Craft Operator Proficiency Card is the equivalent of a driver's license and will be required of all boaters operating power driven vessels. Canada recognizes boating education certificates issued for completion of Coast Guard and US Power Squadron courses that have been approved by the National Associating of Boating Law Administrators. The proof of education must be on board the operated boat. The requirement applies to all recreational motorboats, no matter how small the motor. Under the regulations, anyone born after April 1, 1983, who operates a recreational vessel fitted with a motor and all operators of vessels fitted with a motor and less than four meters in length, are required to have proof of competency on board at all times. All other persons who operate pleasure craft fitted with a motor of any size will have to carry proof of competency as of September 15, 2009. Proof of age must be exhibited to qualify for the 2009 date. A different type of qualification applies to persons operating rented boats.

Under age 12, the operator of a boat with a motor over 10 horsepower must be accompanied or supervised by a person 16 or older. Operators age 12-16 may not operate a motor over 40 horsepower unless accompanied or supervised by a person 16 or over. Age 16 is the minimum age for operating personal watercraft.


Non-resident boaters are currently waived from the operator competency requirement for stays of under 45 consecutive days subject only to licensing requirements from their home jurisdictions. Proof of residency must be exhibited in order to come within the exemption.

US boaters who wish to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card must pass an accredited boating safety test. Tests are accredited by Transport Canada and administered by private organizations, called course providers. The card is valid for life.

The Canadian PCOC regulation is available at