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Operator Card (PCOC) - FAQ

Who needs an Operator Card?

Will boaters who have previously taken a boating safety course be required to take another course or test?

How do I replace my lost Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

How do I obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

Do I need proof of competency to operate a non-powered pleasure craft?

Do I need proof of competency to paddle a pleasure craft fitted with a motor and the motor is turned off?

Do I need proof of competency to operate a sailboat?

Do the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to aboriginals?

Do the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to non-residents?

What is acceptable proof of competency for non-residents?

Courses

Do I need to take a course before I write the test?

Why take a boating safety course?

What is covered in a course?

What are my options?

What should I do if I received training prior April 1, 1999 and my certificate does not show a completion date?

Can I exchange my certificate for a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

Can I obtain a PCOC if I hold a Marine Safety Certificate?

I took a boating safety course in the United States in 1980 and have a dated certificate. Is it an acceptable proof of competency?

If I don't pass the test, can I try again?

Are course or test fees collected for the federal government?

Who needs an Operator Card?

Everyone who operates a power-driven boat needs proof of competency — something that shows they understand the basic rules and how to safely operate a boat. The most common proof of competency is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. You can get the card by taking a boating safety course in-person or online, and passing the test at the end of the course.

* Proof of Competency is not required in the waters of Nunavut and Northwest Territories at this time.

Will boaters who have previously taken a boating safety course be required to take another course or test?

Those who have taken a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999 will not be required to take another course or test. A copy of a certificate or a card issued at the completion of courses taken prior to April 1, 1999 will need to be carried on board the pleasure craft.

How do I replace my lost Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

Replacing your Pleasure Craft Operator Card

If you need to replace a lost or damaged Pleasure Craft Operator Card, you will need to contact the course provider who issued it.  

Please note:

  1. Only currently accredited course providers may issue replacement cards. 
  2. Course providers charge a fee for replacing Pleasure Craft Operator Cards.

Transport Canada can help you if:

  • you don’t know the name of your original course provider,
  • the course provider is no longer in business, or
  • the course provider is suspended.

Simply call the Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687.

An agent will look up your name in a national database of card holders and tell you what you need to do next. 

How do I obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

The most common proof of competency is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. You can get the card by taking a boating safety course in-person or online, and passing the test at the end of the course. Training and testing for this card is only available through Transport Canada accredited course providers. The first step is finding an accredited course provider in your area.

Do I need proof of competency to operate a non-powered pleasure craft?

No. The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations only apply to pleasure craft fitted with a motor.

Do I need proof of competency to paddle a pleasure craft fitted with a motor and the motor is turned off?

Yes.

Do I need proof of competency to operate a sailboat?

You need proof of competency if the sailboat is fitted with an auxiliary motor, even when under sail.

Do the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to aboriginals?

While the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to aboriginals, the Regulations do not apply in situations where the craft is used for daily living or subsistence activities (such as hunting and fishing for the purpose of subsistence). However, most aboriginals that use a boat for subsistence activities also use it for recreational purposes on occasion. As such, it is recommended everyone have proof of competency. To remove ambiguity, the Regulations state that application is limited to pleasure craft used for recreational purposes.

Do the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to non-residents?

The Regulations apply to non-residents if:

  • They operate their pleasure craft in Canadian waters for more than 44 consecutive days or,
  • They operate a pleasure craft that is licensed or registered in Canada (including rented or chartered boats).

The Regulations do not apply to non-residents who operate their pleasure craft (licensed in a country other than Canada) in Canadian waters for less than 45 consecutive days. Please note that a proof of residence will be required on board at all times.

If you require more information on how Canadian requirements apply to non-residents visit the Requirements for Foreign Recreational Boaters In Canadian Waters.

What is acceptable proof of competency for non-residents?

For non-residents, proof of competency can take one of three forms:

  1. A Pleasure Craft Operator Card;
  2. A completed boat rental safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats); or,
  3. An operator card or equivalent which meets the requirements of their state or country.

Do I need to take a course before I write the test?

Taking a boating safety course is strongly recommended regardless of age or experience. However, you can challenge the test without taking a course.

Why take a boating safety course?

  • To improve the safety of all boaters and the boating environment.
  • To get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card as required by the regulation.
  • To learn about your responsibility. 
  • To make your boating experience enjoyable for everyone. 

What is covered in a course?

The course covers a full range of basic boating information such as:

  • minimum safety equipment requirements required on board your boat;
  • the Canadian Buoy system;
  • how to share waterways;
  • a review of all pertinent regulations;
  • and how to respond in an emergency situation.

What are my options?

Take the course in class, by correspondence or on the Internet; or, purchase a training manual from an accredited training organization, study on your own and then take the test.

What should I do if I received training prior to April 1, 1999 and my certificate does not show a completion date?

If the course provider that issued the certificate is still in existence, you can contact them to issue you a certificate showing the appropriate completion date. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Can I exchange my certificate for a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

No. The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations clearly state that a Pleasure Craft Operator Card is a document issued to a person by the administrator of an accredited test (see exception below), to a person that has passed the test. Therefore, a card cannot be issued unless an accredited test has been passed.

Can I obtain a PCOC if I hold a Marine Safety Certificate?

Any person who holds a certificate or equivalency on the List of Certificates of Competency, Training Certificates and other Equivalencies is competent to operate a pleasure craft under the Competency of Pleasure Craft Regulations. A person holding such a certificate or equivalency simply needs to carry their certificate or equivalency (or a copy of it) on board their pleasure craft, accompanied by a proof of identification.

Transport Canada is currently working on a process whereby a person holding certificates or equivalencies from that list can obtain a PCOC from Transport Canada. 

Once the new card system is in place, a person will have the option to continue to carry a copy of their certificate on board or obtain a PCOC from one of the Marine Safety Transport Canada Centers.

I took a boating safety course in the United States in 1980 and have a dated certificate. Is it an acceptable proof of competency?

No. The course must be taken in Canada.

If I don't pass the test, can I try again?

The test can be written as often as required, although it is strongly recommended that a course be taken if you are unsuccessful the first time. The test can be written only once in every 24-hour period.

Are course or test fees collected for the federal government?

Because private companies administer all courses and tests and issue all cards no money is collected for the federal government.

All operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor are now required to have proof of competency on board.