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Ontario residents operating a motorized boat or personal watercraft (PWC or 'Sea Doo') are required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). The PCOC is more commonly known as an Ontario Boating License. This applies to all boaters, regardless of their age, the size of their boat or the engine horsepower.

Operators of motorized boats in Ontario and all of Canada, are required to carry this federal proof of operator competency on board during boat operation or they will face a fine of $250.

All Engine sizes, all boats, and all ages

Pleasure Craft Operator Card

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Boating in Ontario? The FAQs.

What is a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)?
A PCOC, more commonly known by Ontario’s boating community as a ‘boating license’, is a federal competency card. You must obtain and carry your PCOC in order to legally operate any powerboat or motorized boat in Canada. Unlike your driver’s licence, your PCOC can not be suspended or revoked, and once obtained, it’s good for life! Make sure you’re carrying it on board while boating! It doesn’t count if you’ve obtained your boating license... but it’s sitting on the kitchen counter while you’re out boating!
How old do you have to be in Ontario to get a boating license?
There is no minimum age to take Canada's Online Boating Course and you can drive a boat at any age in Canada so long as you have obtained your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Restrictions exist for younger boaters, see the infographic outlining Ontario's age and horsepower restrictions below!
Where can I get my Pleasure Craft Operator Card in Ontario?
Right here! Simply take Canada’s Online Boating Course and Test now. Once you pass the open-book Test you can print your Temporary Card right away and go boating. Your Official BOATsmart! Card will arrive in the mail just a few weeks later. Take the Course online, with any device, from anywhere - even with your smartphone from that Muskoka chair on the dock.
How long does it take to get my Ontario boating license?
The Online Course & Test take approximately 3 hours to complete. You can print your Temporary Card immediately once you pass the Transport Canada Test, and your Permanent Card will arrive in the mail within 4 weeks! This is the fastest way to get your boating license, Ontario!
Do I need boat insurance in Ontario?
No, boat owners are not required to have boat insurance in Ontario. However, it is a smart idea to protect your boat and your boating experience with great coverage features. You can save up to 25% off your annual boat insurance policy with BOATsmart! Assure.
What do I need to know about building a dock or boathouse in Ontario?
We don't claim to be the experts on this one, but we've been wondering too! Turns out, Ontario's rules for building docks and boathouses have recently changed. We've summarized this for you here.
Who enforces Ontario's boating laws and regulations?
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) patrol Ontario's waterways.

The OPP operates out of 165 detachments spread all across the province and you can get in touch with Ontario's law enforcement from anywhere in Ontario.

For emergencies on the water, like a boating accident or drowning, always dial 911.

For non-emergency related reasons, like questions and queries about the rules and regulations in your area, call:
1 888 310-1122
1 888 310-1133 (TTY).

Can I get free boating lessons after taking the Course?
Yes! We know that boating laws can change over time and that it can be tough to perform boating skills like docking your boat in the wind or anchoring your boat for an overnight stay on the water. There's also lots to know about the safety equipment you need on your boat and the different types of buoys on the water in Ontario. That's why we've created our free BOATsmart! Knowledge Base. You can find anything you need to know in there! If you would like to have a handbook to have with you on the boat, you can also order a BOATsmart! Study Guide. We've got you covered, Ontario!
What do I need to know about buying a new or used boat in Ontario?
Buying a boat in Ontario? Whether it's a brand new boat from a dealership or a used boat from someone down the lake, you are required to obtain a Pleasure Craft License for it and to make sure it has all of the required boating safety equipment. For information about licensing your boat, see the section below.
Do I need a boating license to rent a boat in Ontario?
When renting a boat, you can use your completed boat rental safety checklist as your proof of operator competency. However, it's a super smart idea to get your official BOATsmart! Card as your proof of operator competency. A checklist won't teach you how to respond if your pontoon boat runs aground or if a passenger falls overboard when you're out wake surfing!
What are the laws in Ontario for boating & alcohol?
The OPP enforces the laws for drinking and boating in Ontario and they are on the waterways regularly to patrol the waters. We always recommend that you keep the drinks at the cottage & keep it dry on the lake! For the specific laws for boating with alcohol in Ontario, see the list we've provided below.

Ontario’s boating laws & fines:

Failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card
$250

Operating a PWC under 16 years of age
$250

Violation of age and horsepower restrictions
$250

Operating a vessel in an unsafe manner
$500

Insufficient number of Transport Canada approved lifejackets or PFDs (Warning: the fine applies for EACH missing or improper lifejacket or PFD)
$200

Ontario’s laws for boating & alcohol.

  • The fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol in Ontario are the same as those for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.
  • A drunk boater may have their driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 1 year.
  • Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program will apply to those convicted of drunk boating.
  • A boat operator’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level cannot exceed 80 mg. This is the legal alcohol limit in Ontario.
  • There is NO difference between drunk driving & drunk boating.
  • Boat passengers may consume alcohol on board a boat in Ontario so long as the boat is licensed for alcohol consumption, or the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.
  • Contact the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Ontario.

Ontario's age & horsepower restrictions.

12 years of age & under: Can operate a boat without supervision so long as the engine is not more than 10 horsepower and they have proof of competency. They are not allowed to operate a PWC under any conditions.
12-16 years of age: Can operate a boat without supervision as long as the engine is not more than 40 horsepower and they have proof of competency. They are not allowed to operate a PWC under any conditions.
16+ years of age: Can operate a boat or PWC without supervision or horsepower restrictions so long as they have proof of competency.



How to get a boat license in Ontario:

A Pleasure Craft License or ‘boat license’ is a document and a set of I.D. numbers. The document must be on board your boat at all times and the numbers must be displayed on the bow of your boat at all times.

Do I need a Pleasure Craft License?

All motorized boats and PWCs in Ontario powered by 10 horsepower or more are required to have a Pleasure Craft License. The number must be displayed on both sides of the bow, above the waterline, as far forward as possible, in block letters at least 7.5cm high that contrast with the colour of the boat.

You can obtain a 10 year license for free from Service Canada. You must renew the license after the 10 year period has expired.

How to get a Pleasure Craft License

You can obtain a 10 year license for free one of the following two ways:

Option 1: Apply for a free Pleasure Craft License online.
Option 2: Download a paper application form and mail the completed form to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre at the following address:

  • Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
    P.O. Box 2006
    Fredericton, New Brunswick
    E3B 5G4

Wondering how to officially register your boat in Ontario? There are added benefits to boat registration, but a fee will apply. Click here for more information.



Go boating, Ontario!

Ontario

Did you know that there are approximately 250,000 lakes and over 100,000 kms of rivers in Ontario? It's no wonder this province is considered to have some of the very best boating in Canada! On top of that, Ontario is home to The Muskokas and surrounding lakeland areas, including the Kawartha Lakes and the Haliburton Highlands, where the term ‘cottage country’ originated.

With so many awesome spots to hit the water in Ontario, choosing a starting point may seem impossible! But no worries, there’s really no bad place to go boating in Ontario. Whether you’re exploring the breathtaking wilderness of Northern Ontario’s lakes, like the pristine Lake of the Woods, cruising the urban shorelines of Toronto or Kingston on Lake Ontario, exploring the Trent Severn waterway that features 386 kms of canal and Peterborough's Lift Lock, the largest hydraulic boat lift in the world, or visiting one of Ontario’s Provincial Parks, you’ll find no shortage of boat launch locations. To find an Ontario boat launch near you, check out Discover Boating’s marina finder, then hook up the boat trailer and head out! Just make sure you’ve got your Ontario Boating License (Pleasure Craft Operator Card) with you on your awesome boating adventure.

Going fishing in Ontario? It’s really awesome here - anglers from around the world come to take part in Ontario’s premier fishing. You can reel in record-breaking Largemouth Bass, Carp, Muskie and Pike! Don't forget to find out about Ontario's fishing regulations and pick up an Ontario fishing license.

We're boaters too, so we get it.

Think of us as your boating coaches and get in touch by phone, email or chat anytime you need our support! Our bilingual team of safe boating experts can answer any questions you have about getting your Boating License, Canada's boating laws or they can even just hook you up with some great tips and advice to help you enjoy your time on the water.
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We’ve been making smart and safe boaters for over 13 years. And we’re proud to be boaters too.

The BOATsmart! Card is good for life and valid in all of Canada's Provinces & Territories including Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.