What is Required to Get a Boater's License

You may be looking to take a quiet cruise with your family and friends or seeking adventure. Regardless, it's always a good time to be on a boat. The flexibility to visit landmarks, islands, and lighthouses is just one perk of having a boating license.

But how do you get a boater's license in Canada? A valid license for your boat is essential and requires renewal periodically. Drivers also need a special license to operate their boats on the water.

In Ontario, a boating license certificate is known as PCOC. It fully means "Proof of Competency." Anyone who operates a boat must have this card.

Here, we’ll explore how to get a boater's license and the duration it takes to get a PCOC.

Steps to Get a Boater's License in Canada

There are four basic steps to getting a boating license in Canada.

1.   Taking Canadian Boater Service Course

Every potential boater needs to meet a requirement established by Transport Canada before they get a boater's license. Among these is taking and passing the Canadian Boater service test. This training lasts between three and five hours.

The total course costs around 40 Canadian dollars. Meanwhile, there's a time safety test at the end of the training. You can do this class entirely and independently online.

You don't have to worry if you don't do well in your first take of the assessment. You can retake the course and re-write the exam 24 hours after the first trial.

What to Expect from a Boating Safety Course?

A boating safety course from a reputable provider is your best bet for passing the boating safety exam. Both in-person and online learning options are generally available.

Taking a course on boating safety will teach you about the following:

  • What you must do as a boat captain
  • What to do to ensure your boat, passengers, and you are all ready to go before you pull away from the dock
  • Make sure you have and are using all necessary safety gear when boating
  • Ways to avoid potentially dangerous situations while in motion
  • How to coexist peacefully with other watercraft, such as commercial ships that are larger and less maneuverable
  • What to do in a crisis

A boating safety course can help ensure your and your visitors' safety on the water. The tutors can also help you decide to buy inflatable boats.


2.   Boating License Card Issuance

Passing the final exam for the Canadian Boater Safety Course will grant you immediate access to a printable temporary Boating PCOC. This PCOC type is valid until you get the permanent boating license.

3.   PCOC

 Your boating license is your PCOC - proof of competence and should be kept safe because it's valid for life. It's usually sent via mail in a few weeks.

Within the province of Ontario, the Canadian PCOC is widely recognized. And as soon as you have the temporary card, you can set sail.

The Variety of PCOC

Any Canadian who wants to buy a motorized inflatable boat for recreational purposes must provide evidence of competency. That means any recognized certificate or license can indicate they are familiar with boating safety procedures and can respond appropriately in an emergency.

All motors, especially electric trolling ones, necessitate proof of competency. You require it even if you'll only be sailing and not actively operating the boating machine.

The following are recognized documents for proof of competence:

  • Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). Please take note that a PCOC cannot be accepted in paper or electronic form.
  • Proof that you completed a boating safety course in Canada before April 1, 1999. (when the current regulation came into effect)
  • Visitor's operator card or another document that meets the requirements of their home state or country; professional marine certificate or equivalent from the List of Certificates of Competency, Training Certificates and other Equivalencies accepted as Proof of Competency when Operating a Pleasure Craft;

In the following cases, you may not need proof of competence:

  • The boat is being ridden in the waters of Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • A visitor to Canada is just riding a boat they brought into Canada, and it's not more than 45 days since they arrived.

4.   Time

To finish the course and take the test usually takes between three and five hours. In other words, you can have your provisional PCOC in hours. However, your permanent card won't arrive for a few weeks.

Related Article: How to Repair a Leak in an Inflatable Boat?


Other things to Know After You Get a Boater's License

Other things you need to know about when you get a boater's license include:

Getting a Replacement License to Operate a Pleasure Craft

A PCOC is permanently granted to its recipient. But lost or destroyed PCOCs can be replaced by contacting the issuing certified course provider. Most course providers will charge you a small fee for the re-issuance of a new PCOC.

Meanwhile, you can call the Transport Canada Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687 or email pcoc-ccep@tc.gc.ca if the course provider is unknown or no longer in business.

The agent will first verify the applicant's identity against a national database. Afterwards, they'll tell you the requirements to get a new boater’s license.

Restrictions on Horse-Power for Minors

A boat operator under 16 must meet specific standards apart from getting a boating license. The maximum horsepower (hp) (or kilowatts (kW)) allowed for the boat's motor for minors is limited.

The following are the significant restrictions for minors:

  • Children under 12 can use outboard motors of no more than ten horsepower (7.5 kilowatts) with adult supervision.
  • Boats operated by accompanied minors between 12 and 15 are limited to 40 horsepower (or 30 kilowatts).
  • No one under 16 is permitted to operate a personal watercraft (PWC), regardless of parental or adult supervision.

To clarify, Nunavut and the NWT are exemptions from these regulations.

Related Article: How Long Do PVC Inflatable Boats Last?



Boat rides are an exciting and relaxing activity to engage in during leisure. But you must get a boater's license to be an authorized rider in Ontario.

Apart from authorization, the boat licensing comes with a course that takes you through sailing safety rules. 

We at Perun Outdoors prioritize the safety and leisure of boaters. Therefore, we have a collection of only top-tier inflatable boats for your patronage. Check out our online collection today!

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