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Pleasure Craft Operator Card FAQ

Q. What is the difference between a Pleasure Craft Operator Card and a Pleasure Craft License?

  • The Pleasure Craft Operator Card applies to the driver of the boat, while a Pleasure Craft License applies to the boat itself
  • A Pleasure Craft Licence is the number placed on the side of each recreational vessel as required under the Small Vessel Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. The number is used to assist law enforcement and search and rescue organizations in identifying each individual pleasure craft.
  • If your boat is mostly operated or kept in Canada and is powered by one or more motors adding up to 10 hp (7.5 kW) or more, it must be licensed, unless it is registered. You will also need to license dinghies or tenders you carry aboard or tow behind a larger boat. You must keep a copy of the licence on board.
  • As of November 1, 2010, to get your free pleasure craft licence, you must mail the following documents to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre:

a completed application form; proof of vessel ownership; and a signed copy of a valid piece of government-issued identification. (Further information is available on the form.)


Q. Do I need a driver's license to operate a watercraft?

  • No, a driver's license is not required to operate a watercraft. You do require your Pleasure Craft Operator Card on board with you while operating a powered watercraft.


Q. What is the fine for operating without your card?

  • Not having the required Pleasure Craft Operator Card or proof of competency on board = $250 (not including administrative charges)


Q. What are some of the common boating offences and associated fines? (not including administrative charges)

  • Some of the common boating offences and associated fines are:
  1. Not having enough approved lifejackets on board = $200
  2. Careless operation = $200
  3. Speeding = $100
  4. Allowing someone underage to operate a boat = $250
  5. Operating a boat if you are underage = $100
  6. Operating a boat without a working muffle in good condition = $100
  7. Towing someone without a spotter = $100


Q. Is there an age exemption clause?

  • No, there is no age exemption – this law applies to all operators, regardless of age


Q. What if I don’t live in Canada, but boat there?

  • Non-residents only need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card if they are operating their powered boat in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive days or if the boat they are operating is registered or licensed in Canada (this includes rented boats).
  • Boater Education Cards or equivalent certifications are recognized in Canada.
  • Proper identification should always be kept on board  to provide proof of residency.


Q. Are these laws federal or provincial?

  • The laws governing the Pleasure Craft Operator Card are a federal requirement and apply in all provinces.
  • A Pleasure Craft Operator Card obtained in one province is equivalent to a Pleasure Craft Operator Card obtained in another province.


Q. Where can I boat with the Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

  • The Pleasure Craft Operator Card allows Canadian citizens to operate their watercrafts recreationally on all Canadian waters where permitted.
  • The fines for not having your Pleasure Craft Operator Card on board with you vary province by province; it may be as high as $250. Please check with your local enforcement detachment for more information