Buying a Boat

drawing: side-view of new boat in water with yellow stars aboveBuying a New or Used Pleasure Craft

If the pleasure craft (boat) is being purchased outside of Canada, please see Buying a Pleasure Craft from Another Country.

If you are buying a new boat in Canada, make sure it has a Hull Serial Number (HIN). If the boat has a motor or is designed to have one, make sure it also has a Transport Canada compliance notice.

Manufacturers and importers must place a HIN and compliance notice (if needed) on every boat they sell in Canada after demonstrating that it meets the construction standards. If you see a new boat for sale that does not have the required HIN and compliance notice, ask the seller to get them for you before you buy.

If you are thinking about buying a used boat, the first thing you should do is make sure that it meets the construction standards. A good way to do this is to hire a competent marine surveyor to examine the boat, who will give you a fair opinion on the boat’s current condition and will let you know what changes (if any) need to be made to bring the boat up to standard.

Remember: A Transport Canada compliance notice means that the boat met the construction standards at the time it was built, so changes to the boat over time may mean that the compliance notice is no longer valid. Once you own the boat, you must make sure that it is up to standard when you operate it on the water - so get all the facts before you buy.

If the boat is NOT fitted with a motor, it will not be subject to the two requirements below. Please note, however, that you may voluntarily opt to apply for a Pleasure Craft Licence and obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card in the interest of enhancing safety.

Requirements for Boats Fitted with a Motor

Depending on the characteristics of your boat, you will need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Licence from Transport Canada. In addition, you must ensure that you meet the requirement for proof of pleasure craft operator competency. To learn how to meet this requirement, please see Operator Card (PCOC).

Requirements for All Boats

The safety equipment requirements for pleasure craft vary based on length. You should consult with the Safe Boating Guide in order to determine the requirements that apply to your boat.

Buying a Pleasure Craft from Another Country

If you are buying a boat from another country, please remember that:

Construction standards for pleasure craft differ from country to country. Make sure that the boat meets Transport Canada’s Construction Standards for Small Vessels or that you can modify the boat to meet these standards before you operate it.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will ask you for specific documents as well as information on the boat and the seller to confirm the sale and assess the duties and taxes on the boat. Before buying the boat, contact the CBSA to find out what you will need from the seller to bring the boat to Canada.

If you will be towing the boat on a trailer, you should know that a trailer is considered a motor vehicle, with requirements that are different from those that apply to your boat. Contact the CBSA to learn more.

If you are buying a trailer, contact your provincial or territorial transportation office to learn about any requirements that may apply.

Since there may be export requirements in the country where you plan to buy the boat (and the trailer if you are buying one), contact the appropriate authorities in that country well in advance to find out what they are.

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