Do You Need a Boating License for an Inflatable Boat?

Inflatable boats and traditional boats have some differences, but they are the same in that they both require a “proof of competency.” Proof most often comes in the form of a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). This is commonly referred to as a boating license and is required to operate any motorized watercraft in Canada. 

Fortunately, obtaining a boating  license is a fairly simple process and inflatable boats are extremely user friendly.  Here we will look at the requirements for obtaining a boating license in Canada and other important things you will need to operate your inflatable boat.  

How Do You Get a Boating License?

The boating license process simply consists of taking a boating safety course and then proving your competency by passing the Transport Canada Boating Safety Test.  Both the course and test can be completed in a matter of hours - 3 to 5 hours on average. 

When you decide to get a boating license, you have two options:

Online Boating License:  This is the fastest way to earn your PCOC. Many boaters can complete the online course in as little as three hours, though it is certainly not recommended to rush through this as it is important you retain the information. 

In-Person Classes: In-person classes are also available. Though online classes are more convenient, many people find one-on-one instruction beneficial.  

Important Things to Note

  1. Though you can print out your certificate after completing the online course, this printout will not be accepted as proof of competency. You will, instead, need to wait until you receive your official license in the mail. 
  2. No matter how you choose to learn boating safety, the most important thing is choosing an instructor who has been certified to teach boating safety in Canada. 
  3. You have two attempts to pass the test. If you do not pass on the first try, you will need to wait 24 hours before taking it again. 

Why Choose an Inflatable Boat? 

Inflatable boats have several key advantages compared to traditional boats especially if you are new to boating and just getting your license. Their top benefits include:

  • More affordable due to lower upfront costs and also you do not need to pay a docking or storage fee. 
  • Inflatables are very user friendly and even new boaters are often able to operate their boats with ease quickly.
  • Inflatables are also easier to maintain and repair compared to traditional boats. This is a bonus for both new and experienced boaters alike. 

Do You Need a Driver’s License to Get a Boating License?

One of the great things about a boating license is that a driver’s license is not a prerequisite. This means boating is an option for persons who are younger than 16 or who have not obtained a driver’s license for other reasons.

However, there are some age specific restrictions including:

  • Children under 12 cannot operate a powerboat with more than 10 horsepower.
  • Those who are ages 12 to 15 cannot operate a boat that has more than 40 horsepower.
  • You must be at least 16 to operate personal water crafts such as Jet Skis and Sea Doos.   

Are There Other Forms of Proof of Competency?

While a PCOC, or boating license, is the most common proof of competency, it is not the only one. You can also prove competency in the following ways:

  • If you have a certificate from a boating safety course dated before April 1, 1999 you do not require any further proof of competency. This is allowed because 1999 is when new regulations were put in place. 
  • You can also prove competency with equivalent certificates and training such as a professional marine certificate. 
  • Completion of a rental boat safety checklist also counts as proof. Note that this proof will only be valid for the duration of the current rental. You will need to complete this checklist again if you want to rent a boat in the future.

Do Visitors Need a Canadian Boating License?

Visitors to Canada do not need a PCOC but they do need equivalent proof from their home country. However, if a visitor extends their visit past 45 days, they will need to obtain a PCOC. 

When is Proof of Competency NOT Required?

There are two key situations when a proof of competency is not required in Canada:

  1. As mentioned above, a visitor to Canada does not need a proof of competency if their stay does not exceed 45 days.
  2. A boating license/proof of competency is not required in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.

Do You Need a Boating License to Rent a Boat? 

Only plan to be on the water occasionally? In this case, a boating license might not be for you. Fortunately, when you rent a boat, you will just need to complete a boat rental safety checklist. Just keep in mind that you will need to complete this each time you rent a boat so if you plan to rent frequently, getting a license could save you time in the long run. 

Find the Perfect Inflatable Boat for You

If you already have your license in hand, it’s time to find the perfect inflatable boat for you. Inflatables come in a variety of styles for both individual boaters and groups. Shop Perun Outdoors selection of premium inflatable boats now for affordable, quality watercrafts.