Pleasure Craft Licences: Questions and Answers

This page provides instructions on how to apply for a new licence, transfer an existing licence, submit your application form, and process a number of other transactions. You will also find answers to the most common questions we receive about pleasure craft licences.

General Information

Application Information

Forms

Financial Information

Contact Information

Related Information



What is a pleasure craft?

A pleasure craft is a vessel that is used for recreation and does not carry passengers. It is a vessel of a prescribed class under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

NOTE: For the purposes of this definition, a "passenger" is a person who has paid a fee to be transported in a commercial vessel. A "guest" does not need to pay a fee.

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What is a pleasure craft licence and why do I need it?

A pleasure craft licence provides a unique identification number - commonly referred to as the "licence number" - that you must display on your recreational vessel, as required under the Small Vessel Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. This licence number helps law-enforcement and search and rescue officials trace a pleasure craft to its owner.

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What types of pleasure craft do I need to license?

A licence or registration is mandatory for all pleasure craft equipped with motors of 10 horsepower (7.5 kilowatts) or more, including personal watercraft, which are principally maintained or operated in Canada.

Owners of pleasure craft of all tonnages and lengths may choose to license them under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Alternatively, pleasure craft owners may choose to register their vessels in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

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What is a dealer or demonstration licence?

A dealer or demonstration licence is a pleasure craft licence used for demonstration purposes only. This type of licence does not apply to any one pleasure craft. A boat dealer applies for a dealer or demonstration licence to use it on any of the unlicensed pleasure craft in the dealer's name. Dealers should not paint the licence number on any pleasure craft, since pleasure craft owners must apply for another licence number once they purchase the pleasure craft.

Boat dealers can read our Dealer's Guide to Pleasure Craft Licensing for best practices, frequently asked questions, and more.

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How long is a pleasure craft licence valid for?

Due to recent changes to Section 106 of the Small Vessel Regulations, pleasure craft licences are now valid for 10 years. If there are changes to your name or address in that time, you must update your licence. This information is used by law enforcement and search and rescue organizations in emergency situations.

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How should I display the licence number on my pleasure craft?

You must display the licence number on both sides of the bow, above the waterline, in block characters that are at least 7.5 centimetres (3 inches) high and in a colour that contrasts with the colour of the bow.

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Does the licence prove the ownership of my pleasure craft?

A licence does not prove that you own your pleasure craft. You must carry separate ownership documents with you.

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I just bought a new pleasure craft. How do I license it?

To license a new or previously unlicensed pleasure craft, submit the following documents:

Instructions about how to fill out Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft Licence, may be found on our How-to page. In particular, see the "To license a pleasure craft that has never been licensed" section.

If you do not have documents to prove that you own the pleasure craft, you will need to make a declaration under oath stating why you cannot produce the bill of sale or proof of ownership. You may use the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided on this Web site or another similar document, as long as it contains all the required information.

When applying for a pleasure craft licence, include a signed photocopy of your government-issued identification. We will return the photocopy to you when we send you your licence.

Your application and supporting documents must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre.

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How do I license a pleasure craft that I bought in the United States? Or that I bought in a country other than Canada?

To license a new or used pleasure craft you bought in the United States, or in any country other than Canada, follow the application instructions given for I just bought a new pleasure craft. How do I license it? NOTE: On the Application Form, 'FOREIGN' must be indicated/checked in section "C" - Unlicensed pleasure craft.

You do not need to provide customs clearance documents to license a pleasure craft that you purchased outside of Canada, but you still need to remit duty and taxes on the purchase to the Canada Border Services Agency.

For information on how to remit duty and taxes on the purchase of a pleasure craft, please visit the Canada Border Services Agency Web site or call 1-800-461-9999.

A pleasure craft can only have one licence issued either in Canada or in the United States (US). It cannot have both. Displaying both licence numbers can result in a fine.

In order for a pleasure craft to be eligible for a Canadian licence, it must be principally maintained and operated in Canada.

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How do I license a pleasure craft I built myself?

To license a pleasure craft you've built, submit the following documents:

Instructions about how to fill out Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft Licence, may be found on our How-to page. In particular, see the "To license a pleasure craft that has never been licensed" section.

NOTE: Be sure to check the "Home-built" box in the "Description of vessel" section of the application form.

When applying for a pleasure craft licence, include a signed photocopy of your government-issued identification. We will return the photocopy to you when we send you your licence.

Because your boat is home-built and as a result there is no bill of sale or any proof of ownership document, you will need to make a declaration under oath stating that you built your boat. You may use the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided on this site or another similar document, as long as it contains all the information required.

Your application and supporting documents must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre.

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I just bought a used pleasure craft. How do I transfer the licence to my name?

To transfer a licence to your name, submit the following documents:

Instructions about how to fill out Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft Licence, may be found on our How-to page. In particular, see the "To transfer a pleasure craft licence" section.

If you do not have documents that prove you own the pleasure craft, you will need to make a declaration under oath stating why you cannot produce the bill of sale or proof of ownership. You can use the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided on this site or another similar document, as long as it contains all the information required.

When applying for a pleasure craft licence, include a signed photocopy of your personal identification document. We will return the photocopy to you when we send you your licence.

Your application and supporting documents must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre.

For information on how to remit taxes when you purchase a used pleasure craft, please contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

NOTE: Recent changes to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 now allow new owners of previously licensed pleasure craft up to 90 days from the date of purchase to transfer a pleasure craft license during which time they may continue to operate their boat with the existing licence, and a copy of the transfer documents on board.

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I am selling my pleasure craft. How do I transfer the licence?

When you sell your pleasure craft, keep a copy of your bill of sale in case someone later questions the ownership of the vessel. Provide the new owner with a signed bill of sale. The new owner will then have to transfer the pleasure craft licence by sending an application form and the necessary documents by mail to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre.

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How do I replace a lost pleasure craft licence?

To replace a lost pleasure craft licence, submit the following documents:

If the information on file does not indicate that you are the owner, you will need to make a declaration under oath. You can use the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided on this site or another similar document, as long as it contains all the information required.

Instructions about how to fill out Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft Licence, may be found on our How-to page. In particular, see the "To get a duplicate licence" section.

Include a signed photocopy of your government-issued identification document. We will return the photocopy to you when we send you your licence.

You can apply for a duplicate of your pleasure craft licence by mailing your application and supporting documents to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre.

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Who can apply for a pleasure craft licence?

Any person or entity owning a pleasure craft should apply for a licence. The owner(s) of the craft may authorize a third party to apply for the licence on their behalf (i.e. a dealer may apply for the licence on behalf of their customer so that the craft can be marked before it leaves the dealership), provided the following is submitted:

  • A letter from the owner or legal representative stating that the third party has authorization to act on their behalf and permission to supply Transport Canada with the necessary documentation required to license the pleasure craft. You may use the Sample Third Party Authorization Letter (PDF Version, 8 KB) * provided on this site.

  • Valid identification to prove the person applying for the licence on behalf of the owner is who is specified in the letter of permission signed by the owner.

  • Other documents normally required to obtain a pleasure craft licence completed by the owner or legal representative.

NOTE: "Third party" refers to any person or entity acting on behalf of the owner. This includes employees wishing to license a vessel on behalf of their employer (e.g. licensing a vessel under a business name).

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Can a licence have more than one owner listed on it?

Yes. All owners of a pleasure craft must request that their names appear on the licence. To do this, we need the following information:

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What documents can I use as valid government-issued identification?

Valid pieces of identification include the following documents:

  • provincial/territorial birth certificate
  • certificate of Canadian citizenship
  • valid Canadian passport
  • provincial/territorial driver's licences
  • other forms of government-issued identification (preferably with a photo)

NOTE: Certain provinces and territories prohibit the use of their health cards as identification. For this reason, we cannot accept a provincial/territorial health card as proof of identification.

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What documents can I use as valid proof of ownership?

To establish proof of ownership, we accept documents that contain the following information:

  • name, address, and signature of previous owner;
  • name and signature of new owner;
  • description of the pleasure craft (make, model, and other details requested on the application form);
  • hull serial number (HIN) or compliance label number (if available); and
  • pleasure craft licence number (if already licensed).

Documents that we consider to be valid proof of ownership (depending on the application type) include the following:

  • bills of sale
  • statutory declarations
  • wills and bequests
  • separation or divorce agreements
  • court judgements
  • signed agreements of transfer of ownership (sale/purchase agreement)

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How do I complete a declaration under oath?

You can complete the declaration under oath on the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided. However, you can also complete these declarations on another sworn document, as long as the document contains enough information to demonstrate that you are legally entitled to license a specific pleasure craft.

The declaration should include the following information:

  • your name, date of birth, and address, as the new owner;
  • the licence number of the pleasure craft (if applicable);
  • the make and model of the pleasure craft;
  • the hull serial number (HIN);
  • the hull material and colour;
  • the propulsion type;
  • the name of the previous owner;
  • an explanation as to why you cannot produce proof of ownership or other documents;
  • for an unlicensed pleasure craft, a statement that, to the best of your knowledge, the pleasure craft was not previously licensed;
  • the date the original licence was issued (if applicable);
  • your signature, as the new owner;
  • the signature of a lawyer, notary, justice of the peace, or commissioner of oaths; and
  • the printed name of the lawyer, notary, justice of the peace, or commissioner of oaths.

NOTE: A lawyer, notary, justice of the peace, commissioner of oaths, or another person legally entitled to sign such documents in Canada must sign a declaration under oath. You may have to pay a fee to obtain the signature for a declaration under oath.

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What kind of information does the application form for a pleasure craft licence require and how is this information used?

A pleasure craft licence application form asks for basic contact information on the pleasure craft owner, as well as a description of the vessel.

Information may be disclosed to parties involved in search and rescue activities, as well as law enforcement agencies for the purpose of carrying out a lawful investigation and enforcing any law of Canada, including the requirement to pay provincial sales tax.

At Transport Canada, we protect all information you provide on your application form according to the appropriate privacy and access to information legislation. The information collected is described in the Personal Information Bank entitled Pleasure Craft Licences (bank number DOT PPU 044). Under the provisions of the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act individuals have the right of access to, and protection of, their personal information. Instructions for obtaining personal information are provided in Info Source, a copy of which is available in major public and academic libraries or online at www.infosource.gc.ca.

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How do I submit my application?

Applications for pleasure craft licence along with supporting documentation must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre:

Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
P.O. Box 2006
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 5G4

Please allow five (5) business days plus mailing time to process your application. Applications cannot be processed unless you provide complete information and include all required documents.

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What forms do I need to apply for a pleasure craft licence?

To apply for a pleasure craft licence, you will need to fill out an application form and provide the appropriate supporting documents.

Supporting documents may include:

To find out which of these supporting documents are required as part of your application, please see the Application Information section on this web page.

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Do I have to pay a fee to obtain a pleasure craft licence?

No, there is no fee for obtaining a pleasure craft licence.

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How can I find out if the used pleasure craft I want to buy has an outstanding lien, mortgage, or loan against it?

All provinces have personal property registries where citizens can search for financial and security information on personal property such as cars, boats, and tractors.

These personal property registries provide online registration and search services to support both the legislative requirements of the provincial personal property security acts and the enforcement of money judgments and other civil enforcement proceedings.

You can find your provincial site online by performing an Internet search using the name of your province and the phrase "personal property registry." You can also visit your local provincial service centre for more information.

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Do I have to pay taxes when buying a new or used pleasure craft?

For the application of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) to the supply of a new or used boat, please contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by calling 1-800-959-8287.

Additionally, Provincial Sales Tax (PST) may need to be paid to the provincial/territorial government. You should contact your provincial/territorial Ministry of Finance to get more information on how to remit the PST.

For links to provincial/territorial departments of finance, business service centres, and other tax and financial services please visit the related provincial and territorial Canada Revenue Agency web sites.

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Is there a fine if I do not have a pleasure craft licence?

There is a fine of $250 if you are found to be operating a vessel without a licence. However, if you decided to register your vessel instead of licensing it, there is no fine.

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How do I contact the Pleasure Craft Licensing program?

For any questions about the Pleasure Craft Licensing program, please email obs-bsn@tc.gc.ca or call the Boating Safety InfoLine at 1-800-267-6687.

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Is the pleasure craft "licence" and the pleasure craft "operator card" the same thing?

The pleasure craft operator card is sometimes referred to as a licence, but the two are not the same. The pleasure craft licence provides each vessel with a licence number. The pleasure craft operator card is a form of proof that pleasure craft operators must carry to demonstrate their competency to operate a pleasure craft.

The card is the most common proof of competency. However, boaters can also demonstrate competency if they:

  • can prove they successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada before April 1, 1999; or
  • have completed a rental boat safety checklist for boat renters.

For more information on operator competency requirements and how they apply to you, visit the Accredited Course Providers Database.

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What is the difference between a licence and registration?

Pleasure craft licence

A pleasure craft licence provides a unique identification number - commonly referred to as the "licence number" - that an owner of a pleasure craft must display on the bow. This number helps law enforcement and search and rescue officials trace a pleasure craft to its owner. An owner must display the licence number on both sides of the bow of the pleasure craft, above the water line, in block characters not less than 7.5 centimetres (3 inches) high and in a colour that contrasts with the colour of the bow.

The licence is mandatory for all pleasure craft equipped with motors of 10 horsepower (7.5 kilowatts) or more, including personal watercraft.

NOTE: You do not need a pleasure craft licence if a boat is registered. For more information, read What types of pleasure craft do I need to license?

The pleasure craft licence is free of charge, and you can transfer it to any subsequent owner of the pleasure craft. You must carry a copy of the licence on board your vessel at all times. However, a licence is not a title document. You must also carry other documents, such as a document that establishes ownership, to help avoid delays clearing U.S. or Canada customs, or in case of a fine.

Registering your pleasure craft

The Canadian Register of Vessels is a title system that keeps track of the owners of vessels. It contains information on each vessel such as ownership and vessel characteristics, e.g. tonnage, construction material and type. When you register, you receive an official number for your vessel, as well as a unique name. It also provides certain benefits, such as the right to fly the Canadian flag.

If you intend to use your vessel as security for a marine mortgage, you are required to register your vessel.

Registration is optional for all pleasure craft, regardless of tonnage and length, as per the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

There are costs associated with registering. However, the registration is good for as long as you own the vessel. You must carry registration documents on board the vessel at all times, together with any other ownership documents, to help avoid delays clearing U.S. or Canada customs, or in case of a fine.

Transport Canada provides this registration service. For frequently asked questions on registration, please visit the Vessel Registration Office Web site.

Registering your small commercial vessel:

In Canada, you must register commercial vessels of all sizes. This includes human-powered craft such as kayaks and white-water rafts used by guides for guided trips; but not lifeboats or other survival craft on board a larger ship, which are inspected as a part of the ship’s equipment. A pleasure craft licence is not acceptable for a commercial vessel. You should have your registration documents on board at all times.

If your vessel is no more than 15 gross tonnage, you may register it in either the Small Vessel Register or the Canadian Register of Vessels. If your vessel is more than 15 gross tonnage, or if you want to register a mortgage, you must register it in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

The Vessels Registry Fees Tariff allows for the registration of a "fleet of vessels", which means two or more vessels of less than 5 gross tonnage that are owned by the same person, other than a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government, for a flat fee of $50.00 if the owner applies for all registrations/renewals at the same time.

Licensed vessels:

If you licensed your vessel in the Small Commercial Vessel Licensing System (your licence begins with 'C') before July 1, 2007, it will be treated as if it were registered until:

  • it is sold to someone else; or, if it is not sold;
  • the licence expires

If you licensed your vessel with Canada Customs, it will be treated as if it were registered until:

  • it is sold to someone else; or, if it is not sold;
  • July 1, 2012

For more information on how to register your vessel, refer to Registration of Small Commercial Vessels.

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Can I both register and license my pleasure craft?

No, you cannot both license and register a pleasure craft.

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How does the licensing system improve public safety and security?

Search and rescue and law enforcement officials have immediate access to the boat information stored in the common database, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This information can help quickly identify owners of boats in emergency situations.

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