Frequently Asked Questions
Please note that the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations that amends the Small Fishing vessel inspection Regulations will come into force in the summer of 2017. Consequently, Transport Canada is developing a new version of the Small Vessel Compliance Program that will include small fishing vessels. The new online enrollment system will be accessible through Transport Canada’ Small Vessel Compliance Program website.
Find out more about Small Fishing Vessel Safety
Enrolment and participation in the SVCP
Registration of Small Non-Pleasure Vessels
Blue Decal/SVCP Documents
Electronic Version of the SVCP Application
Enrolment and participation in the SVCP
Q1: Is enrolment in the SVCP mandatory?
A1: No, enrolment in the SVCP is optional. However, being compliant with the CSA 2001 and its regulations is mandatory.
Small non-pleasure vessel owners are responsible to ensure that their vessels and operations comply with all applicable regulatory requirements. The SVCP will help simplify the process of regulatory compliance by consolidating the requirements of numerous regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, into one easy-to-use tool with guidance notes.
Q2: Why should I participate in the SVCP?
A2: To own and operate a non-pleasure vessel in Canada, you must meet your responsibilities as outlined in the CSA 2001. There are numerous regulations and standards that apply to your small non-pleasure vessel and its use. A key benefit of the SVCP is that it simplifies the process by consolidating the requirements of numerous regulations under the CSA 2001 into one easy-to-use tool with guidance notes.
Q3: If I own a pleasure craft but occasionally use it for commercial purposes, can I enrol in the SVCP?
A3: If you own a pleasure craft and you intend to use it for commercial activities, in a majority of cases you must register your vessel with Transport Canada prior to engaging in those activities. Once your vessel is registered, or in the process of being registered, you can enrol in the SVCP. The SVCP will help you comply with CSA 2001 regulations that apply to the vessel’s non-pleasure activity.
Q4: If I own a commercial fishing vessel and use it for purposes other than commercial fishing (as a workboat, or to carry passengers), can I enrol in the SVCP?
A4: Yes. If your vessel is a commercial fishing vessel that is also used as a workboat, or to carry passengers, the SVCP will help you comply with the requirements that apply to its non-fishing operations. (Note, clients on board a sport-fishing vessel are considered passengers, and therefore the vessel must meet the requirements for passenger vessels)
Q5: What happens if I am not compliant with the CSA 2001?
A5. If you are not compliant with the CSA 2001 and it's regulations, you are operating your vessel illegally and you may be subject to an adminstrative monetary penalty, a fine or your vessel may be detained. The penalties vary depending on the regulations violated and range from $500 - $25,000, while the fines may go up to $1,000,000. Some are daily penalties that will accumulate until your vessel is compliant.
Registration of Small Non-Pleasure Vessels
Q6: Must I register my vessel with Transport Canada?
A6: According to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001), section 46, all non-pleasure vessels must be registered with Transport Canada (there are some exceptions, follow this link for more information). A registered vessel is one that has a Certificate of Registry from Transport Canada's Vessel Registration Office.
Q7: If I don't need to register my small non-pleasure vessel with Transport Canada, can I still enrol in the SVCP?
Q8: How do I register my vessel with Transport Canada?
A8: Follow this link to register your vessel.
Call us at 1-877-242-8770.
Q9: I have registered my vessel with Transport Canada and I am still waiting for my Certificate of Registry. Can I still enrol in the SVCP?
A9: Yes. In addition to the regular SVCP enrolment process, you must prove that you have applied for registration. If your Detailed Compliance Report and supporting documents are complete, you will receive a Letter of Conditional Participation (valid for one year) in the SVCP. Once you are registered, contact your local TCC Marine office and we can continue with the enrolment process and send you your Blue Decal.
Q10: I am already registered with Transport Canada. How do I enrol in the Small Vessel Compliance Program (SVCP)?
A10: Contact your nearest Transport Canada Centre (TCC) Marine office to receive a Small Vessel Compliance Program package
Follow this link to download the Small Vessel Compliance Application.
Q11: What is the difference between a registered vessel and a vessel enrolled in the SVCP?
A11: According to The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001), section 46, all non-pleasure vessels must be registered with Transport Canada (there are some exceptions, follow this link for more information). A registered vessel is one that has a Certificate of Registry from Transport Canada’s Vessel Registration Office.
Enrolment in the SVCP is optional and is designed to help owners/operators of registered vessels meet their requirements under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Whether or not you choose to participate in the SVCP, your vessel must always be in compliance with the CSA 2001 and its regulations.
Q12: Can I enrol in the SVCP if my vessel is registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels (Large Ship Registry)?
A12: Yes. You can still enrol in the SVCP as long as your vessel has a Certificate of Registry, measures 0-15 gross tonnes, carries 0-12 passengers, and is not a pleasure craft used solely for recreational purposes.
The SVCP does not currently enrol human-powered vessels or fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing activities.
Blue Decal/SVCP Documents
Q13: How long is a Blue Decal valid for?
A13: The Blue Decal is valid for five years from the date on the Letter of Confirmation of Participation. At the end of the five years, small non-pleasure vessel owners and operators must reinitiate the enrolment process in the SVCP.
Note that during the five-year validity period, once a year, vessel owners must complete the Annual Compliance Report and keep it in their records. A copy of the Annual Compliance Report must also be kept onboard the vessel.
Q14: What do I do with my Blue Decal?
A14: Display your Blue Decal where it:
- Is visible: Can crew, passengers and Marine Safety Inspectors easily see the Blue Decal?
- Does not hide other on-board information: Make sure the Blue Decal is not covering another item that provides information related to the safe operation or identification of your vessel.
- Does not obstruct someone’s view: If you choose to place your Blue Decal on a window, make sure that it does not reduce crew members’ field of vision.
Q15: How do I get my Annual Compliance Report?
A15: You will get your Annual Compliance Report in your SVCP package, along with your Blue Decal and Letter of Confirmation. Store all original documents in a dry, safe place and keep copies onboard. Please contact the nearest TCC Marine office if you need to replace reports. You can also follow this link to download the Annual Compliance Report.
Q16: How can I replace my lost SVCP Blue Decal and/or forms?
A16: Any lost forms or Blue Decals can be replaced by Transport Canada. To have the SVCP Blue Decal or forms reissued or replaced, please contact your local TCC Marine Office as soon as possible. Follow this link to contact a TCC Marine Office.
Q17: I moved. How do I change my address with Transport Canada to make sure I receive my Blue Decal?
A17: Send a change of address request in writing (via e-mail, mail or facsimile) to the Vessel Registration Office as soon as your address changes. Your letter should also include:
- the official number, and
- the owner's name.
Operations & Environmental Programs
Safety and Security
330 Sparks Street, 10th Floor
For information about your vessel, call the Vessel Registration Office toll-free: 1-877-242-8770.
Once you have notified the Vessel Registration Office of your changes, contact the closest TCC Marine office and give them the same information so that the SVCP information will be sent to the right address. Follow this link for a list of TCC Marine office locations.
Q18: Are there any SVCP documents that participants need to have on board as a requirement of the program?
A18: Yes. SVCP participants should place their Blue Decal on board the vessel where it is easy to see. Copies of your Letter of Confirmation of Participation in the SVCP as well as the completed annual reports should be kept on board as well.
While you may keep the original documents ashore, you may be asked to produce them at any time by a Marine Safety Inspector.
Q19: Do I need to fill out forms for each of my vessels?
A19: Yes. One Small Vessel Compliance Report should be filled out for each vessel and submitted to Transport Canada. You will receive a Letter of Confirmation of Participation in the Small Vessel Compliance Program and a Blue Decal for each vessel in return.
Q20: What do I do if I have a decal from another Transport Canada program?
A20: The SVCP Blue Decal signifies enrolment in the national program, which updates and replaces all regional programs. If you are part of a regional decal initiative, contact your local TCC Marine Office to learn how to switch to the national program. Follow this link for a list of TCC Marine Centres.
Q21: If I have filled out my SVCP Compliance Package and am waiting for approval and the Blue Decal, may I still operate my vessel?
A21: Yes. You may operate your vessel as long as it is fully compliant with the CSA 2001 and it's regulations. The CSA 2001, section 106, outlines that the owner is responsible to ensure compliance with the applicable requirements for their vessel.
Electronic Version of the SVCP Application
Q22: How do I fill out the electronic version of the SVCP application form?
A22: The electronic version of the application is an Excel file. Follow this link for detailed instructions.
Q23: To fill in the electronic version of the SVCP application form (compliance report), I need to enable macros. How do I do that?
A23: To enable macros:
- Launch Microsoft Excel
- Press F1 key for help
- Search for ‘enabling macros’
- Click on ‘Enable or disable macros’ or Security Levels in Excel
- Follow ‘enable all macros’ or select ‘medium’ steps
- Once macros are enabled, open saved SVCP Excel file that you saved to your desktop.
Q24: What is a fishing vessel?
A24. A fishing vessel is a vessel used for commercially catching, harvesting, or transporting fish and/or other marine resources.
Follow this link for more information on Small Fishing Vessels.
The SVCP does not currently enroll fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing activities.
Q25: What is a passenger?
A25. The definition of "passenger", as found in the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, is as follows: “passenger” means a person carried on a ship by the owner or operator, other than
A person carried on a Safety Convention ship who is
- the master, a member of the crew or a person employed or engaged in any capacity on board the ship on the business of that ship, or (ii) under one year of age,
A person carried on a ship that is not a Safety Convention ship who is
- the master, a member of the crew or a person employed or engaged in any capacity on board the ship on the business of that ship, or (ii) a guest on board the ship, if the ship is used exclusively for pleasure and the guest is carried on it without remuneration or any object of profit,
- A person carried on a ship in pursuance of the obligation on the master to carry shipwrecked, distressed or other persons or by reason of any circumstances that neither the master nor the owner could have prevented, or special purpose personnel
Q26: What is a gross ton?
A26. A gross ton isn't a unit of weight. Rather, it is related to the volume of a vessel, and is a marine term equal to 100 cubic feet (approximately 10 cubic meters) used to describe the size of vessel. Gross tonnage indicates the internal volume of a vessel, including cargo holds and other areas, while net tonnage is the commercially useful internal capacity of the ship, that is, gross tonnage volume minus the internal volume used for crew quarters, engine rooms, and so on.
Gross tonnage or size of your vessel will determine in part which regulation and standards apply to your vessel - Follow this link for more information on tonnage measurements.
Q1: Where did the Small Vessel Compliance Program come from?
A1: Transport Canada regional offices developed and tested ways to help vessel owners meet their legal obligations. The regional “Blue Decal” initiative proved to be popular among vessel owners and industry, and provided the foundation for the development of the national Small Vessel Compliance Program (Non-Pleasure Craft) (SVCP). Basing a national program on the regional initiatives and acting on “lessons learned” has helped us develop a strong program.
The SVCP provides owners with an easy-to-use tool to help them ensure that their small non-pleasure vessel meets its requirements under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations.
Q2: What are the advantages of participating in the Small Vessel Compliance Program?
A2: Most participants find participation in the program very rewarding because they:
- learn how to meet the many legal obligations and safety requirements for their vessel;
- discover more about how their vessel is constructed; and
- can display the Blue Decal on their boat as a way to show clients, enforcement officers and others that they make safety the top priority in their business.
Q3: Under what regulations does the Small Vessel Compliance Program operate?
A3: Sections 405 and 502 of the Small Vessel Regulations state that the owner of a workboat or passenger-carrying vessel shall not operate or permit another person to operate the workboat or passenger-carrying vessel unless, before it is first put into service, the owner has informed Transport Canada, in a form determined by the Minister, of
- the intention to operate the workboat or passenger-carrying vesselor permit its operation;
- the physical characteristics of the workboat or passenger-carrying vessel; and
- the nature of its operation.
The owner of a workboat or passenger-carrying vessel shall submit to Transport Canada, on request, information respecting the physical characteristics of the workboat and the nature of its operation.
Q4: What is the purpose/goal of the SVCP?
A4: The purpose of the SVCP is to help vessel owners understand and meet their obligations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations. The SVCP supports Transport Canada's objective of promoting safety in marine transportation by increased awareness and understanding of safety requirements.
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