Do You Need a License to Drive a Boat in Ontario? 

When it comes to the waters of Ontario, there are few places on earth as enticing and exciting to boaters. With over 250,000 lakes to choose from, Ontario itself is home to almost a fifth of the entire world’s fresh water supply — and it’s one of the most beautiful, fun and boater-friendly spots to boat in the world. Are you ready to enjoy a day on the Ontario waters? Are you wondering if you need a license to drive a boat in Ontario? Here at BOATsmart! we have all you need to know to prepare for an awesome boating adventure!

A big part of boating in Ontario involves ensuring that you’re legal and prepped to do so, which is where boating safety and boater education comes into play.

Father and daughter sitting on dock in Muskoka Ontario

Do I need a license to drive a boat in Ontario? 

In Ontario, you don’t need a specific license to drive a personal boat (also known as a pleasure craft). However, you do need a pleasure craft operating card — also known as a PCOC and commonly referred to as a boating license. While there is indeed such a thing as a pleasure craft license, it’s not the same thing as an operational one. Instead, in Ontario, pleasure craft licenses are used to register and identify boats.   

What are the age requirements to drive a boat in Ontario? 

In Ontario, all boaters — regardless of age — are legally required to obtain and carry a pleasure craft operator card while operating any motorized boat or personal watercraft in Ontario. There are some specific age and horsepower restrictions to operate a boat in Ontario. For instance, no children under the age of 12 may operate a powerboat with more than a 10 horsepower engine, children from the age of 12-15 may only operate a boat unsupervised if it’s 40 horsepower or less, and those operating a personal watercraft must be at least 16 years of age. 

What are the fines/penalties for driving a boat without a license in Ontario? 

In Ontario, operating a boat without a pleasure craft operator card may result in a minimum fine of $250.  

What types of boats need a licensed driver in Ontario? 

In Ontario, a pleasure craft operator card is required to drive all motorized boats, regardless of length or engine size. However, you do not need a pleasure craft operator card to drive a non-motorized vessel, such as a kayak or canoe. 


How do I get a boating license in Ontario? 

Obtaining your pleasure craft operator card in Ontario is simple, especially with BOATsmart!. In just three simple steps, you can get your card and ensure that all of your boating days are legal: 

  1. Take the BOATsmart! Canada Boating Safety Course online 
  1. Pass your online Transport Canada Boating Safety Test
  1. Print your temporary certificate immediately, and get on the water. 

Are there any exceptions to needing a boating license in Ontario? 

In Ontario, there are no exceptions to the pleasure craft operator card requirement. Regardless of age, all boaters must take a boating safety course to operate a motorized boat or pleasure craft.  


We’re huge fans of boating in Ontario, and we’re definitely not the only ones. With hundreds of thousands of spots to launch your boat, there’s just something extra special and adventurous about those Ontario waters — and it’s our joy to prepare as many boaters as we can to head out safely on their pleasure crafts. Ready to start boating in Ontario? Log on now, and we’ll get you safe and legal for your next pleasure craft trip.