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BOATsmart! has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 7295 ratings and reviews.
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Transport Canada Approved

We've been making smart boaters for more than 17 years. BOATsmart! is Canada’s largest Transport Canada Accredited Course Provider and we’re proud to be trusted by more Canadian boaters. Your BOATsmart! Card is also accepted in more than 40 U.S. states. We’ve got you covered.

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Kempenfelt Bay, ON

"Amazing Job!"

“Wow, you guys have done an amazing job! Way more interactive and interesting than 8 years ago when I first took the boat exam. I am very impressed.“

Billy Allen

Pro Wakeborder

BOATsmart! courseware on a tablet.

Watch, Listen & Learn

From anywhere, on any device at any time.

Our animated and narrated Boating Safety Course is perfect for all ages. Study from your Smartphone, Tablet or Desktop and switch between devices at any time. BOATsmart! automatically tracks your progress so you can study at your own pace.

BC Boating License Requirements

WHAT IS A PLEASURE CRAFT OPERATOR CARD?

All boat operators in BC are required to obtain and carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) to legally operate any powered or motorized boat in Canada. Commonly called a boating license the PCOC is a federally mandated boating competency card, which cannot be suspended or revoked. Your boating license is good for life, and must be carried on board your boat at all times during operation. Photocopies are not accepted.

WHERE CAN I GET MY BC BOATING LICENSE?

Boat operators in BC can obtain their boating license by taking the online BOATsmart! Course. To be certified, you must successfully pass the open-book Transport Canada Boating Safety Test. Once you pass you can print your temporary card immediately, and go boating right away. Your permanent card will arrive in the mail within 4 weeks. 

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO GET A BOATING LICENSE IN BC?

There is no minimum age to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card, commonly called a boating license, in BC. However, age and horsepower restrictions apply to boat operators who are less than 16 years of age. All boat operators are required to carry a boating license to legally operate any motorized boat in Canada.  

AGE AND HORSEPOWER RESTRICTIONS

Children under 12 years of age are not permitted to operate a boat with a motor of 10 hp or more, unless they are supervised by a person who is 16 years of age or older who has also obtained their PCOC. 

You who are 12 – Under 16 years of age may not operate a motorized boat with an engine of more than 40 hp, unless they are directly supervised. 

Any person who is under 16 years of age is not permitted to operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC), such as a Jet Ski or Sea Doo. under any circumstance.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY BOATING LICENSE?

It takes a minimum of three hours to get your Boating License Online. Once boaters have completed the course and Transport Canada Boating Safety Test they can print their Temporary Pleasure Craft Operator Card Immediately. The permanent boating license will arrive in the mail within 4 weeks. Although the online course is the fastest way to get certified, boaters can also sign up for in-person classroom courses to get their license. 

CAN I GET REFRESHER LESSONS AFTER TAKING THE BOATING COURSE?

It’s important to keep up-to-date on boating laws and regulations in BC, including boating safety equipment requirements, boat licensing requirements, and collision regulations. BOATsmart! has got you covered, with a free BOATsmart! Knowledge Base that includes everything you need to know about boating safety in British Columbia. Boaters in BC can also purchase the printed BOATsmart! Study Guide. Keep a copy at the cabin, or on your boat to reference the latest regulations. The BOATsmart! Study Guide is available online and at Canadian Tire.

DO I NEED A LICENSE TO RENT A BOAT IN BC?

Boat operators in BC must obtain their PCOC, or complete an official rental boat safety checklist in order to legally operate a rented motorized boat in Canada. To ensure you’re confident on the water obtaining your boating license is ideal, and will ensure you have the knowledge you need to stay safe on the water. Since a rental checklist won’t teach you what to do if your boat runs aground or you fall into icy water, it’s a good idea to get certified. 

Boating and Alcohol in BC

BC BOATING AND ALCOHOL LAWS

It is illegal to consume alcohol while operating a boat in BC. Additionally, open alcohol can not be transported in any type of boat in BC, while the boat is underway. Alcohol may only be legally consumed by passengers on boats that are at anchor, that are equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters. Boat operators who are convicted of operating a boat under the influence will face the same fines and penalties and those for operating a motorized vehicle. 

The BC Provincial Police enforce BC’s boating and alcohol laws and regulations. For more information about boating with alcohol in British Columbia, content the BC Provincial Police. 

PENALTIES FOR DRINKING AND BOATING

Boating and alcohol violations in BC are the same and those for operating a motorized vehicle under the influence. There is NO difference between drunk driving & drunk boating

A boat operator’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level cannot exceed 80 mg. This is the legal alcohol limit in British Columbia.

A drunk boater may have their driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 1 year.

British Columbia’s Ignition Interlock Program will apply to those convicted of drunk boating.

Boat passengers may consume alcohol on board a boat in BC 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.

 

Age & Horsepower Restrictions

A silhouette of a 9.9 Litre onboard motor

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. Boaters 12 years of age and under are not allowed to operate a PWC under any conditions.  

Silhouette of a 40 litre onboard motor

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.

Silhouette of an onboard motor larger than 40 litres

16+ YEARS OF AGE

Can operate a boat or PWC without supervision or horsepower restrictions so long as they have proof of competency.

A Boatsmart Canada pleasure craft operator card

ALL OPERATORS

All boat operators in British Columbia regardless of age are required to obtain and carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or face a $250 fine.

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British Columbia's Boating Fines

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Failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card

$250

Silhouette icon of PWC or jetski.

Operating a Personal Watercraft (PWC) under 16 years of age

$250

A silhouette of a 9.9 Litre onboard motor

Violation of age and horsepower restrictions

Up to $500

Silhouette of boat tachometer

Operating a vessel in an unsafe manner

$500

life jacket silhouette icon

Insufficient number of Transport Canada Approved lifejackets or PFDs. Fine is applicable for EACH missing or improper lifejacket or PFD.

$200

General Boating BC FAQs

WHO ENFORCES BC’s BOATING LAWS?

Both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and local municipal police detachments patrol BC’s waterways. 

Boating Emergencies:
Call 911 for emergencies on the water, like a boating accident or drowning.

Non-Emergencies:
Non-emergency lines for the BC Provincial Police vary by region. Visit
Gov.Bc.ca for more information.  

DO COMMERCIAL BOAT OPERATORS IN BC REQUIRE A PLEASURE CRAFT OPERATOR CARD?

Commercial operators require different certification than those operating recreational boats. However, any person who operates a pleasure craft in Canada should participate in the PCOC program. The BOATsmart! Safe Boating Program covers all aspects of safe boating and responsible operation on Canadian waterways. Boaters of any age and ability are encouraged to participate in the BOATsmart! Program.

How To Get a Boat License in BC

DO I NEED A PLEASURE CRAFT LICENSE? 

All motorized boats and PWCs in BC 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.

HOW DO I GET A PLEASURE CRAFT LICENSE?

You can obtain a 10 year license for free from Service Canada. There are two ways obtain the license:

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

REGISTERING YOUR BOAT

Registering your boat is different than obtaining a Pleasure Craft License for your boat. There are added benefits to registering your boat.

BUYING A NEW OR USED BOAT IN BC

Buying a boat in BC? Whether it’s a brand new boat from a dealership or a used vessel, you’re required to obtain a Pleasure Craft License. You are also required by law to ensure you carry on board all of the required boating safety equipment for the type and size of vessel. 

DO I NEED BOAT INSURANCE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA?

No, boat owners are not required to have boat insurance in BC. However, there are benefits to insuring your boat including 3rd party liability, replacement and accidental damage coverage. Boaters who obtain their license with BOATsmart! automatically qualify to save up to 25% off boating insurance.

Bowrider boat with BC registration number on the side. Illustration.

A Pleasure Craft License or ‘boat license’ is a document and a set of I.D. numbers for your vessel. 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.

Welcome To Boating Mecca

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British Columbia Boating Destinations

BC is peppered with lakes, rivers, and a coastline that’ll keep boaters exploring for years. Some of our favourite lakes for watersports and lakeside festivals include Okanagan Lake which spans 130 km, Harrison Lake with almost unlimited boating access, and Cowichan Lake where the top water-skiing and wakeboarding fanatics have been known to land some tricks! More of a ‘cruise along the coast’ type of boater? Check out Tofino for some amazing shoreline scenery, sunsets and world famous surfing competitions, or start at Fraser River and work your way up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound for weeks of endless beauty!

Trust us, fishing in BC is where it’s at! To get where you’re going, use Discover Boating’s Marina and Boat Launch finder, and before you cast a line, be sure to read and understand BC’s Freshwater Fishing Regulations and Offshore Fishing Regulations. British Columbia is an angler’s paradise with freshwater and offshore fishing opportunities for sturgeon, salmon and trout! So get out there and reel em’ in!

Helpful resources for boating in British Columbia

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25% off your boat insurance

Get certified with BOATsmart!® and save up to 25% on you annual policy premiums – for life. BOATsmart! Assure® is a new way to buy boat insurance. You get premium coverage at consumer direct pricing.

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NISSAN WHOLESALE PRICING

BOATsmart!® Cardholders automatically receive no-haggle dealer cost pricing on Nissan vehicles. That’s exclusive wholesale pricing for you.