Canadian Register of Vessels

Vessel Registration Office

Starting April 1, 2013, all Regional offices located across Canada will be centralized to Transport Canada headquarters in Ottawa. The headquarters office will continue to provide functional direction, as well as deliver the national vessel registration program and process routine applications  

VesselRegistration 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.

 

Note:  For information on Vessels registered in Canada or a snapshot of a registered vessel, visit the Vessel Registration Query System (VRQS)

Owners of pleasure craft not required by law to be registered may do so on a voluntary basis.

Attention vessel owners:New

  • Notice to Vessel Registry Clients 
  • Reminder:  if your address changes, you must contact us to update your information.  Otherwise your registration may be suspended or canceled.

Procedures for Registration in Canada

Vessels are registered in Canada in accordance with the provisions set forth in Part 2 of the Canada Shipping Act 2001 (CSA 2001).

Mandatory registration: The Act provides that the owner(s) be qualified to be registered as owner(s), i.e. 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 and that the vessel is not registered in a foreign country. Section 46 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 states:

Mandatory registration of vessels

46. (1) A vessel must be registered under this part if it

  1. is not a pleasure craft;
  2. is wholly owned by qualified persons; and
  3. is not registered, listed or otherwise recorded in a foreign state.

Obligation of owner

(2) Every owner of a vessel described in subsection (1) shall ensure that it is registered under this Part.

Optional registration: The following vessels may be registered under Part 2 Section 47 of the Canada Shipping Act 2001 (CSA 2001), unless they are registered in a foreign country:

  1. a pleasure craft that is wholly owned by qualified persons;
  2. a vessel that is owned by a corporation incorporated under the laws of a foreign state if one of the following is acting with respect to all matters relating to the vessel, namely:
    1. a subsidiary of the corporation, that is incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province,
    2. an employee, or director in Canada of any branch office of the corporation that is carrying on business in Canada, or
    3. a vessel management company, incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province; and
  3. A vessel that is in the exclusive possession of a qualified person under a financing agreement under which the person will acquire ownership on completion of the agreement.

Vessels under construction: A vessel that is about to be built or that is under construction in Canada may be temporarily recorded in the Register as a vessel being built in Canada. For further information on recording your vessel, you should contact the Registrar at your chosen Port of Registry.  

Documentation for Registration

  1. Select at least three names for the vessel Application for Registry [PDF Version] and have it approved by the Chief Registrar, through the Registrar of Vessels at your Port of Registry. The payment of the fee must accompany the Notice of Name form. Please refer to the Vessels Registry Fees Tariff for information on the costs associated with registration or contact your Port of Registry.
  2. Complete the Application for Registry [PDF Version] and submit it to your Port of Registry.
  3. Produce evidence of ownership/title to the Registrar of Vessels:

    Canadian-built: In the case of a newly-built vessel, which has been constructed for the applicant, the evidence consists of a Builder's Certificate [PDF Version]. Otherwise, the evidence consists of the Builder's Certificate and any intervening Bill(s) of Sale demonstrating complete sequence of title to the applicant for registration.

    Foreign-built: In the case of a newly-built vessel the evidence consists of a Builder's Certificate and any intervening Bills of Sale forming complete sequence of ownership from the builder to the applicant for registration.

    Otherwise, the evidence consists of the original Bill of Sale from the last foreign owner to the applicant for registration, duly authenticated by a Canadian consular officer, and any intervening Bill(s) of Sale demonstrating complete sequence of title from the last foreign owner to the applicant for registration. However, if the Bill of Sale has been executed previously, and under seal of a foreign or Canadian notary, or a lawyer, the customary authentication is not required.

    Further, if at the time of application, the vessel was registered in a foreign country, before Canadian registration could be effected, the owner shall provide evidence in the form of an original or true copy of a written document, such as a Deletion Certificate or an Abstract or Transcript of Registry. This provides proof that the foreign registry is closed and is free and clear of all encumbrances. The Registrar at the vessel's foreign port of registry issues these documents.

  4. Furnish a Statement of Qualification for Vessel Registration [PDF Version] to prove eligibility to be registered as owner.
  5. Appoint an Authorized Representative [PDF Version], if required.
  6. Have the vessel measured for tonnage under Canadian rules. The tonnage of vessels may be determined in accordance with the Vessel Registration and Tonnage Regulations and TP 13430, either by using the Assigned Formal Tonnage, the Simplified Method or by a duly appointed Tonnage Measurer:
    • For vessels of not more than 12 metres in length, you can choose to use the “Assigned Formal Tonnage” (non-calculated tonnage).  Assigned Formal Tonnage simply means linking a tonnage number to the length of the vessel.  Should you require an accurate tonnage calculation, use Form 4A or Form 4B.
      • Less than 8.5m = gross tonnage of 4.99
      • More than 8.5m but not more than 10.5m = gross tonnage of 9.99
      • More than 10.5m but not more than 12m = gross tonnage of 14.99
    • If the vessel is to be measured using the Simplified Method, this method applies for the following vessels:
  1. Monohull vessels up to and including 15 metres tonnage measurement length (TML) – use Form 4A Simplified Method of Tonnage Measurement [PDF Version]
  2. “Monohull vessel” means a vessel having not more than a single tier of deckhouses and/or superstructures (including breaks that are also being regarded as one tier of superstructures) whose total combined length does not exceed 70% of TML to be measured.
  3. Simple multihull vessels up to and including 15 metres tonnage measurement length (TML) – use Form 4B Tonnage Measurement of a Simple Multihull Vessel [PDF Version]
  4. Simple multihull vessel” means a flat platform installed on two or more pontoons.

For more details, please refer to the Simplified Method of Tonnage Measurement [PDF Version] for monohull vessels and to the Tonnage Measurement of a Simple Multihull Vessel [PDF Version] for simple multihull vessels.

If the vessel is to be measured by a Tonnage Measurer, you can either contact your Port of Registry or refer to Tonnage Measurements.

Pay the basic registration fee for first registration, which is $250.00. Fees are payable by Visa, Mastercard or AMEX.

If you are choosing to pay by cheque/money order, it is to be made payable to the RECEIVER GENERAL FOR CANADA

All required forms are available from any Port of Registry across Canada, or online by selecting Vessel Registration Forms or from Transport Canada's Forms Catalogue.

Vessel Registration
Operations & Environmental Programs
Marine Safety
Safety and Security
Transport Canada
330 Sparks Street, 10th Floor
Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0N8
North American toll free no. 1-877-242-8770 or
Telephone: 1-613-991-3150
Facsimile: 1-613-998-0637
 

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Change of Ownership and/or Address

A change of ownership must be sent in writing to the Registrar at your ship's port of registry, and must include the following documents:

If a document, such as a Bill of Sale, by an interim owner cannot be produced, you must complete a statutory declaration.

Please contact the Registrar at your Port of Registry for further details.

A change of address must be sent in writing (via e-mail, mail or facsimile) to the Registrar at your ship's Port of Registry and should include the following information:

  • name of vessel
  • official number
  • port of registry
  • owner's name

There is no fee for a change of address. 

NewReminder:  if your address changes, you must contact us to update your information.  Otherwise your registration may be suspended or canceled. 

For any information regarding your vessel, you should contact the Registrar at your Port of Registry.

Here is the North American toll-free telephone number: 1-877-242-8770.

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Frequently Asked Questions for Vessel Registration

Registering a vessel

1. What is the Canadian Register of Vessels?

The Canadian Register of Vessels is the official register of all registered or listed vessels, vessels under construction and bare-boat charters. It contains information on each vessel, such as ownership and mortgage details, vessel characteristics, such as tonnage, construction material and type.

2. What forms do I need for first registration?

To apply for a first registration of a vessel, you must send the following forms to the Registrar at your Port of Registry:

3. Where can I get the registration forms I need?

All required forms are available from any Port of Registry across Canada, or online by selecting Vessel Registration Forms or from Transport Canada's Forms Catalogue.

4. How do I calculate the tonnage of my vessel to verify if it is under 15 gross tons?

The tonnage of vessels may be determined in accordance with the Vessel Registration and Tonnage Regulations and TP 13430, either by using the Assigned Formal Tonnage, the Simplified Method or by a duly appointed Tonnage Measurer.

  • For vessels of not more than 12 metres in length, you can choose to use the “Assigned Formal Tonnage” (non-calculated tonnage). Assigned Formal Tonnage simply means linking a tonnage number to the length of the vessel. Should you require an accurate tonnage calculation, use Form 4A or 4B.
    • Not more than 8.5m = gross tonnage of 4.99
    • More than 8.5m but not more than 10.5m = gross tonnage of 9.99
    • More than 10.5m but not more than 12m = gross tonnage of 14.99
  • If the vessel is to be measured using the Simplified Method, this method applies for the following vessels:
    • Monohull vessels up to and including 15 metres tonnage measurement length (TML) - use Form 4A Simplified Method of Tonnage Measurement [PDF version].
    • "Monohull vessel" means a vessel having not more than a single tier of deckhouses and/or superstructures (including breaks that are also being regarded as one tier of superstructures) whose total combined length does not exceed 70% of TML to be measured.
    • Simple multihull vessels up to and including 15 metres tonnage measurement length (TML) - use Form 4B Tonnage Measurement of a Simple Multihull Vessel [PDF version].
    • "Simple multihull vessel" means a flat platform installed on two or more pontoons.

If the vessel is to be measured by a Tonnage Measurer, you can either contact your Port of Registry or refer to Tonnage Measurements.

5. What are the marking requirements?

Your Certificate of Registry is not valid until the vessel has been marked in accordance with the following marking requirements:

  • Name and Port of Registry:
  • For pleasure craft and air cushion vehicles, both the name and port of registry must be marked together on a clearly visible exterior part of the hull. For commercial vessels, the vessel name must be marked on each bow and the vessel name and port of registry must be marked on the stern. If the vessel has a square bow, the name may be marked on a clearly visible exterior part of the bow in order to avoid obliteration. The markings may be made by the use of any means and materials that result in durable markings. All must be at least 10 cm in height, made in clearly legible letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals. Port of registry marking may consist of the port only, or may include both the port and the province. Only the province may be abbreviated by using the two letter Canada Post symbol.
  • Registered tonnage and official number:
  • Both the official number and registered tonnage shown on the Certificate of Registry must be marked in block-type Arabic numerals at least 4 cm high on a clearly visible interior structural part of the hull. The registered tonnage must be preceded by the abbreviation "N.R.T." and the official number by the abbreviation "O.N.". These numbers must be permanently affixed so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious and cause some scarring or damage to the surrounding hull area.

6. How do I pay the required fees?

All fees must be paid by a cheque or money order and be made payable to the RECEIVER GENERAL FOR CANADA and sent to the appropriate Port of Registry. Fees are also payable by VISA or MasterCard at most of Ports of Registry. Please refer to the Vessels Registry Fees Tariff for information on the costs associated with registration or contact your Port of Registry.

7. Why is the ownership of a registered vessel divided into 64 indivisible shares?

For registration purposes, the property in a vessel is divided into 64 indivisible shares. The origin of this practice has not been definitely established although various theories have been advanced. Here are three of the more credible:

  1. That for the convenience of practical men, the binary system was used, where the shares in the vessel were halved until the whole was reduced to 64 parts;
  2. That the custom grew out of the fact that in olden days, most vessels had 64 ribs;
  3. That during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, vessel owners were taxed to pay for naval protection and to secure this tax the Crown took 36 of the original 100 shares in each vessel, leaving the owner with 64 shares. Although the tax was later remitted, the custom of vesting absolute title through 64 shares has persisted.

8. What is a joint owner?

For registration purposes, the property in a vessel is divided into 64 indivisible shares. Up to five people may register as joint owners of each of these 64 shares. Joint owners are considered as one unit, although all of the names of the joint owners are listed in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

You can sell a share only when all joint owners act together to sell it Bill of Sale.

Upon the death of a joint owner, the shares of the deceased are passed to the surviving joint owners. Such a change must be reported to the Registrar at the vessel's Port of Registry, with the following documents:

  • Death certificate;
  • Burial certificate or a presumption of death issued by a court or appropriate authority (e.g., RCMP);
  • Declaration of Transmission.

There is no fee for a change of ownership upon the death of a joint owner.

9. How do I report a change of ownership?

A change of ownership must be sent to the Registrar at your Port of Registry, which must include the following documents:

If an original document, such as a Bill of Sale or a Statement of Qualification for Vessel Registration by an interim owner cannot be produced, you must complete a statutory declaration. Please contact the Registrar at your Port of Registry for further details.

10. How do I report a change in address?

A change of address must be sent in writing (via e-mail, mail or facsimile) to the Registrar at your ship's Port of Registry and should include the following information:

  • name of vessel
  • official number
  • port of registry
  • owner's name

Reminder:  if your address changes, you must contact us to update your information.  Otherwise your registration may be suspended or canceled.

There is no fee for a change of address.

11 . What can I do if I have lost or misplaced my Certificate of Registry?

You must submit a letter providing details of the loss to the Registrar at your Port of Registry, which should include the Official Number and vessel's name, along with payment of the appropriate fee. Please refer to the Vessels Registry Fees Tariff for information on the costs associated with the replacement of a Certificate of Registry.

12 . What is a bare-boat chartered vessel?

"Bare-boat Charter" means a vessel charter agreement under which the charterer has complete possession and control of the vessel, including the right to appoint its master and crew.

Bare-boat Charter (IN)

A vessel registered in a foreign country that is bare-boat chartered exclusively to a qualified person may be listed as a bare-boat chartered vessel if, for the duration of the charter, the registration is suspended in respect of the right to fly the flag of that country. The form required is the Application for Bare-boat Charter Registry.

Bare-boat Charter (OUT)

A vessel registered in Canada applying for bare-boat charter will have its registration suspended in respect of the right to fly the Canadian flag while the vessel is shown on the registry of a foreign country as a bare-boat chartered vessel.

13 . Do I need to renew my Certificate of Registry?

A Certificate of Registry is valid for a period of three (3) years. A Renewal Certificate of Registry is issued to the owner or the owner's authorized representative 30 days prior to the expiration date. In the event that the Renewal Certificate of Registry is not received at least two weeks prior to the date of expiration, it is important to immediately contact the Registrar at your Port of Registry, as a valid Certificate of Registry must be kept on board the vessel at all times.

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 Registrar at your Port of Registry 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 Canada Shipping Act and liable to prosecution.

14 . When a vessel is either suspended or closed, is the name available?

If a vessel is suspended from registry in Canada, the name of the vessel is not readily available to the public. If a vessel is closed, the name is available to the public.

15 . Why are owner's names and addresses visible?

Under section 76 of the Canada Shipping Act 2001 provides access to the Canadian Register of Vessels as a public register and a person may examine or obtain copies of any entries in the Register with respect to a vessel.

16 . What is a suspended vessel?

A suspended vessel is a vessel which has been temporarily removed from active registry status. The registry of a vessel is suspended as a result of an owner/authorized representative's failure in keeping the registry current by not reporting changes. You may wish to refer to Section 60 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

17 . Where can I find information on a vessel with the number 50E12345 or BC12345?

If there is a number-letter combination on the boat's bow, (e.g., 50E12345, BC12345), it is a licensed pleasure craft. To learn more about pleasure craft licensing, visit Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca, or call the Boating Safety InfoLine at 1-800-267-6687.

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Mortgages

1. What is a mortgage?

A mortgage is a legal document that creates a security for a loan or other financial consideration, whereby, the registered vessel or share or a share of it is used as security. The person using the vessel as security and receiving the loan is called the mortgagor. The person taking the vessel as security and usually giving the loan is called the mortgagee.

Only registered vessels can have mortgages recorded against them. For information on whether a registered vessel has a mortgage, please contact the Registrar at its Port of Registry. A certified or uncertified Transcript of Registry can also be requested from the port. For information on the appropriate fees, please refer to the Vessels Registry Fees Tariff. If the vessel has a name and a port written on the stern, it is a registered vessel. A mortgage is not permitted on licensed vessels.

2. I am buying a used boat. How can I tell if it is registered or licensed?

If there is a number-letter combination on the boat's bow, (e.g., 32E 00000, BC00000), it is a licensed pleasure craft.

To learn more about pleasure craft licensing, visit Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca, or call the Boating Safety InfoLine at 1-800-267-6687.

A vessel whose number begins with the letter "C" (e.g., C00000BC) is a Small Commercial Vessel, which was either licensed prior to July 1, 2007, or registered as of July 1, 2007 in the Small Vessel Register, and is the responsibility of Transport Canada. These licenses or Certificates of Registry (Small Commercial Vessel Register) are issued by the Vessel Registration Office in the National Capital Region. For more information on a specific licence or certificate, please contact the Vessel Registration office in the National Capital Region by calling toll-free at 1-877-242-8770.

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Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs)

1. How do I obtain the Application form to register a commercial Air Cushion Vehicle (ACV)?

Registration of Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) is done in the National Capital Region only. You will be required to complete an Application for Registry form or an Application for Registry (Small Vessel Register) form. Both forms are available from any Port of Registry across Canada, or online by selecting Vessel Registration Forms or from Transport Canada's Forms Catalogue. Further information is available from the Vessel Registration office by calling toll-free at 1-877-242-8770 or by facsimile at 613-998-0637.

2. How is tonnage determined for the registration of an Air Cushion Vehicle (ACV)?

A weight determination has been established to assess whether an ACV should be registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels or the Small Vessel Register.

A commercial ACV equal to or less than 4,500 kg/4.5 metric tons All-Up Weight (AUW) can registered either in the Canadian Register of Vessels or the Small Vessel Register.

A commercial ACV greater than 4,500 kg/4.5 metric tons AUW must be registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

For more information, please call the Vessel Registration office toll-free at 1-877-242-8770.

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Publications and Queries

1. How do I obtain the List of Ships Volume I & II (Blue Books) and the cost?

You may purchase The 2003 List of Ships, volumes 1 and 2 from the Government of Canada Publications web site, by selecting the links below:

Canada Government Publishing
Ottawa, ON K1A 0S9
By phone: 613-941-5995
Orders only: 1-800-635-7943 (Canada and U.S.A.)
Facsimile: 613-954-5779 or 1-800-565-7757 (Canada and U.S.A.)
Please note that hard copies of the List of Ships were no longer published after 2003.

For further information, please contact the Vessel Registration office by calling toll-free at 1-877-242-8770 or by facsimile at 613-998-0637.

2. How do I make a historical query?

In order to make a historical query, you must provide at least two of the following:

  • Official Number
  • Vessel's Name
  • Vessel's Owner

This query should be sent either to the Registrar at your Port of Registry or the Vessel Registration office in the National Capital Region, by calling toll-free at 1-877-242-8770 or by facsimile at 613-998-0637. Please refer to the Vessels Registry Fees Tariff for information on the associated costs.

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Vessel Registration Forms

The forms are available from the Vessel Registration Office (Ottawa), any Port of Registry, or online, from Transport Canada's Forms Catalogue*.

* These online forms are available in PDF format only.

The following documents are available for downloading or viewing:

To access the Portable Document Format (PDF) version you must have a PDF reader installed. If you do not already have such a reader, there are numerous PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet:

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