Vessel Registration

Small Commercial Vessels that were licensed under the Canada Shipping Act, must now be registered. These vessels are deemed to be registered in the Small Vessel Registry until either there is a transfer of ownership or on July 01, 2012.

Owners of Registered vessels must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province.

All commercial vessels must be registered. (see FAQ on Registration for more information) A vessel less than or equal to 15 gross tons will normally be registered in the Small Vessel Register, unless you need to register a mortgage for the vessel. If your vessel is more than 15 gross tons, or you need to mortgage the vessel, you will register it in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

Requirements for registration are outlined under Part 2, Registration, Listing and Recording of the CSA 2001. The implementation of the new requirements governing the registration, rather than licensing, of small commercial vessels has resulted in changes to current business. These new obligations to owners of registered vessels include requirements pertaining to tonnage. Tonnage measurement is mandatory for the purpose of registration. (see Tonnage Measurements for more information). This change will impact approximately 13,500 existing vessel owners.

Under the Canada Shipping Act 2001 (CSA 2001), all non-pleasure vessels less than or equal to 15 gross tons (small commercial vessels) are required to be registered with the department's Small Vessel Register or the Canadian Register of Vessels.

Non-pleasure vessels of less than or equal to 15 gross tons, that meet the requirements of the CSA 2001 and were licensed under the (old) Canada Shipping Act, will have to be registered. Those vessels will, however, be deemed to be registered in the Small Vessel Register until either:

  1. a transfer of ownership wherein the new owner must apply for registration; or
  2. five years after the CSA 2001 comes into force, which is July 01, 2012
  • The applicant/owner must be a qualified person to own a registered vessel. The owner(s) must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or a corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province.
  • The main difference between the registration of commercial vessels in the Canadian Register of Vessels (commercial vessels over 15 gross tons) and those in the Small Vessel Register (commercial vessels less than or equal to 15 gross tons) is that vessels on the Canadian Register of Vessels can hold a marine mortgage whereas vessels on the Small Vessel Register cannot.
  • For the Small Vessel Register, there is a $50.00 registration fee and a $50.00 renewal fee every five (5) years. Under the Vessels Registry Fees Tariff, owners of a fleet of vessels qualify for a flat fee of $50.00. To qualify as a fleet, there must be two or more vessels, each having a volume of 5 gross tons or less with a common owner. This provision does not apply to government vessels (federal, provincial or municipal).
  • For the Canadian Register of Vessels, the registration fee is $250 plus any additional costs associated with registry, including a tonnage survey. There is no renewal fee.

A Certificate of Registry (Small Vessel Register) will be valid for five (5) years from the issue date. Not less than 30 days preceding the expiration of a Certificate of Registry (Small Vessel Register), a reminder letter and Renewal Form will be mailed to the owner at the address of record concerning the completion of the Renewal Form and the payment of the Renewal Fee.

To ensure that your certificate remains valid, any change(s) to the information shown on the certificate, including a change of address, must be reported, in writing, to the Vessel Registration office in the National Capital Region within 30 days of the changes being made. Failure to report may result in the suspension or cancellation of the registry of your vessel and rendering your Certificate of Registry invalid. Anyone operating a vessel with an invalid document is in contravention of the CSA 2001 and liable to prosecution.

Commercial vessels must be compliant with the CSA 2001 and its applicable regulations, including the Marine Personnel Regulation. To familiarize your self with the requirements of the CSA 2001 and the regulations for your vessel and to seek assistance, please contact your Regional Transport Canada Centre.

Also to assist you in registering your vessel, or processing a change of ownership or address, please refer to the following:

There are nine regional offices located across Canada that process applications for registry in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

Registration (Canadian Register of Vessels) is a title system for ownership of vessels. It is similar in nature to title systems used for land registry. Registration allows for name approval, mortgage registration and proof of ownership except in the case of a vessel registered in the Small Vessel Register. Every vessel other than pleasure craft must be registered.