When it comes to boating in British Columbia, you’re boating in one of the most magnificent places in the world! From the Sunshine Coast to Okanagan Lake, British Columbia is full of opportunities, from freshwater to saltwater, to explore from a boat. However, just like boating anywhere, boating in British Columbia does have its share of rules, regulations and restrictions — including the requirements to drive a boat in BC. Are you wondering if you need a license to drive a boat in British Columbia, we have you covered. Here’s all you need to know, and happy boating!

Do I need a license to drive a boat in British Columbia?

When you go out boating in British Columbia, you won’t necessarily need a boating license! However, to drive a pleasure craft, it’s required to have a pleasure craft operating card, also called a PCOC. While they’re usually referenced as boating licenses, they’re technically pleasure craft operating cards. You also may hear references to a pleasure craft license, which is used to register and identify boats.

What are the age requirements to drive a boat in British Columbia?

To boat in British Columbia, you must obtain and carry a pleasure craft operator card. Boating in British Columbia comes with several specific age and horsepower restrictions to be followed as well.

For example, 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 British Columbia?

In British Columbia, operating a boat without a pleasure craft operator card can result in a minimum fine of $250.

What types of boats need a licensed driver in British Columbia?

To drive any motorized boat in British Columbia you must have a pleasure craft operator card, regardless of length or engine size. However, there isn’t a requirement to hold a PCOC to drive a non-motorized vessel (i.e., a kayak or canoe).


How do I get a boating license in British Columbia?

Obtaining your pleasure craft operator card in British Columbia is simple with BOATsmart!. You can obtain your card and ensure that all of your boating days are legal in just three simple steps:

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

Are there any exceptions to needing a boating license in British Columbia?

There are no exceptions to the requirement for a pleasure craft operator card while boating in British Columbia. Each BC boater, regardless of age, must take a boating safety course in order to operate a motorized boat or pleasure craft.

The way we see it, boating in British Columbia is really one of the best things of all time. With so many places to launch your boat and head out on the water, you’re set! The key? To do so safely and legally.  Check out BOATsmart! here, and we’ll get you on the water ASAP.