Both new and experienced boaters sometimes need a reminder about the rules and regulations put in place for boating in Canada. One of the commonly overlooked aspects of boating safety is the need to register or license your vessel. Boat licensing or registration is only required if your boat meets a certain set of requirements, and in some cases captains can choose which option they would prefer. Read through the requirements for each, and be sure to look into licensing and registration if your boat requires it.

Pleasure Craft License

If you are driving a boat with a motor that exceeds ten horsepower, then the vessel must be licensed. Licensing your boat is free of charge and the license remains valid for ten years, after which the captain must have it renewed. Operators caught without their pleasure craft license – which must be kept onboard at all times – could face a fine of up to $250. For a service that is free of charge, is it worth risking a fine?

There is a number present on the pleasure craft license card that also must be displayed on the boat’s bow in visible characters. In order to be classified as visible, the numbers must be seven centimetres tall and printed in colours that contrast the bow. This number will be used in emergencies to identify your boat, so it might not be a bad idea to commit the number to memory so it can be communicated quickly and effectively if needed.

After a new boat is purchased, there is a 90-day grace period in which the vessel does not have to be licensed. If the boat is being operated during this grace period, the operator MUST carry with them documentation that details the owner’s name, address, and the date of purchase for the boat. This is the only time that it is deemed acceptable for a captain to be operating the boat without a pleasure craft license.

Registered Vessels

Boats that will be leaving Canada or that are large enough to require a marine mortgage must be registered. This is not an option – if your boat meets these criteria it must be registered in order to be legally compliant. Boat registration comes at a cost of $250, but gives the captain fun and creative benefits in return. Registered vessels are assigned names and ports of origin by the captain to be displayed on the rear, for example: “Holy Shrimp, St. John, NB”. In addition to displaying the name and port on the exterior, the official number and tonnage must also be displayed on the inside of the boat.

Your boats name works the same way as the pleasure craft license number. In cases of emergency the name will be used to identify you, so it is a good idea to choose a name that is short, concise and easy to communicate.

As a captain, it is your responsibility to know your vessel, and that includes knowing if it needs to be registered or not. If your boat meets any of the above criteria, you do not have a choice – you must be looking in to getting your boat licensed or registered. If you have questions about the process or are looking to apply, you can contact the Vessel Registration Office.

New Brunswick boaters also need their Pleasure Craft Operator Card in order to be a licensed boater. Taking the course will not only let you become a certified boater in Canada, it will also teach you how to properly and safely operate your vessel. Be a responsible boater, take the Transport Canada approved boating safety course and become a certified New Brunswick boater.


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