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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.

Nova Scotia Boating License Requirements

WHAT IS A PLEASURE CRAFT OPERATOR CARD?

A Boat License, also called a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), is a mandatory competency card required for any person who operates a motorized recreational boat in Canada. The PCOC cannot be suspended, or revoked. In order to operate a boat legally, you must carry the card on board with you at all times during operation. Photocopies are not accepted as proof of competency. 

WHERE CAN I GET MY NOVA SCOTIA BOATING LICENSE?

Take the online BOATsmart! Course and Transport Canada Boating Safety Test to get certified with your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Once you’ve successfully completed the course and test, you can print your Temporary Card immediately. You’ll get your permanent BOATsmart! Boat License in the mail within 4 weeks.  

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

Boaters of all ages can get certified with their boat license in Nova Scotia. There is no minimum age. All boat operators, including those less than 16 years of age, are required by law to obtain a carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) and carry it while boating. Additionally, certain Age and Horsepower Restrictions apply to boaters 16 years of age and under. See below.

AGE AND HORSEPOWER RESTRICTIONS

No children under 12 years of age can operate a powerboat with a more than 10 horsepower engine.

Youths, aged 12 to 15 may only operate a boat with a motor up to 40 horsepower unsupervised.

Operators must be at least 16 years of age to operate a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski or Sea Doo.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY BOATING LICENSE?

It takes a minimum of 3 hours to complete the standardized online boating safety course. Once boaters complete the course and pass the Transport Canada Boating Safety Test, they can print their temporary card right away. Operators will receive their permanent boat license in the mail within four weeks. Although boaters can complete an in-person classroom course and test, the online course is the fastest way to complete the process.

CAN I GET REFRESHER LESSONS AFTER TAKING THE BOATING COURSE?

Boating laws can change over time, and certain boating skills like docking your boat in the wind or anchoring your boat for an overnight stay often need revisiting. There’s also lots to know about the boating safety equipment you need onboard, as well as remembering the different types of marker buoys on Nova Scotia waterways. That’s why we’ve created a free, comprehensive BOATsmart! Knowledge Base. Nova Scotia boaters can also obtain a printed BOATsmart! Study Guide to keep on board as a reference guide. The BOATsmart! Study Guide is available online and at Canadian Tire.

DO I NEED A LICENSE TO RENT A BOAT IN NOVA SCOTIA?

It is highly recommended that boat operators obtain their PCOC before renting or operating a boat in Canada. In order to rent a boat in Nova Scotia, operators must either complete a rental boat safety checklist or be certified with their Pleasure Craft Operator Card. By obtaining your boat license you will learn all of the knowledge you need in order to boat with confidence.

Boating and alcohol in Nova Scotia

NOVA SCOTIA BOATING AND ALCOHOL LAWS

Operating a vessel while consuming alcohol in Nova Scotia is illegal. Open alcohol cannot be transported in a vessel while underway in any type of boat in Nova Scotia. Alcohol may only be legally consumed on boats that are equipped with a galley (kitchen), head (bathroom) and sleeping quarters, and only consumed while at anchor. The fines and penalties for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol in Nova Scotia are the same as those for operating a motorized vehicle.  

Contact the RCMP for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Nova Scotia.

NOVA SCOTIA BOATING AND ALCOHOL LAWS

Boating and Alcohol offences in Nova Scotia are the same as those for operating a motor vehicle while 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 Nova Scotia.

Operators convicted of boating under the influence will face significant fines and penalties, and may have their driver’s license revoked. 

Age & Horsepower Restrictions

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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. 

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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.

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16+ YEARS OF AGE

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

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ALL OPERATORS

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

Nova Scotia's Boating Fines

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Failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card

$250

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

$250

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Violation of age and horsepower restrictions

Up to $500

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Operating a vessel in an unsafe manner

$500

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

$200

General Boating Nova Scotia FAQs

WHO ENFORCES NOVA SCOTIA’S BOATING LAWS?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), provincial and municipal police forces and other local authorities patrol Nova Scotia’s waterways. 

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

WHERE CAN I GO BOATING IN NOVA SCOTIA?

There are so many prime boating destinations across this province! If you’re looking for some travel inspiration, Discover Boating is an excellent resource for finding new waterways, rivers and lakes in Nova Scotia, or check out our top locations to anchor and eat. Keep in mind that certain lakes that are part of provincial or national parks may not permit powered boating. Make sure you check the rules before heading out on the water!

How To Get a Boat License in Nova Scotia

DO I NEED A PLEASURE CRAFT LICENSE? 

All motorized boats and PWCs in Nova Scotia 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 NOVA SCOTIA

Buying a boat in Nova Scotia? 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 NOVA SCOTIA?

No, boat owners are not required to have boat insurance in Nova Scotia. 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.  

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 Canada’s Ocean Playground

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Nova Scotia Boating Destinations

Whether you’re taking a Bay of Fundy Boating Adventure, going Tidal Bore Rafting, kayaking on the Shubenacadie river or boating on Bras d’Or Lake, Nova Scotia has some of the most magnificent waterways in Canada. With over 7,000 kms of pristine coastline, we guarantee you’ll fall in love with boating in Nova Scotia.

Take a trip down the historic Mersey River on a kayak or paddle a SUP board around the South Side to see some friends. Either way, these rugged and untouched shores will have you visiting over and over.

More of the fishing type? Nova Scotia is amazing for fishing salmon, trout, perch and of course, bass. The inland and tidal water regulations differ so make sure you check the local regulations before leaving the dock!

Helpful resources for boating in Nova Scotia

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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.