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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.

Ontario Boating License Requirements

WHAT IS A PLEASURE CRAFT OPERATOR CARD?

A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), more commonly known by Ontario’s boating community as a boating license, is a federally mandated boating 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. Boaters must carry their permanent card onboard and photocopies are not considered legal. 

WHERE CAN I GET MY ONTARIO BOATING LICENSE?

You can obtain your official boating license by taking the BOATsmart! Course online and passing the Transport Canada Boating Safety test. 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 within 4 weeks at no charge.

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

There is no minimum age to obtain your boating license in Ontario. Boaters of all ages, including those less than 16 years of age, are required by law to obtain and carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card while boating. In addition, certain Age and Horsepower Restrictions apply to boaters 16 years of age and under. See below.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY BOATING LICENSE?

The online boating safety course is standardized to a minimum of 3 hours. Once boaters complete the online course and pass the Transport Canada Boating Safety Test, they can print an official boating license. BOATsmart! then mails the permanent card 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.

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

In order to rent a boat in Ontario, boaters are required to either have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or complete an official rental boat safety checklist in order to prove their competency. Obtaining your PCOC is preferable, as you will learn all of the knowledge you need in order to boat with confidence. A checklist won’t teach you how to respond if your pontoon boat runs aground or if a passenger falls overboard.

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.

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 Ontario waterways. That’s why we’ve created a free, comprehensive BOATsmart! Knowledge Base. Ontario 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.

Boating and alcohol in Ontario

Ontario Boating and alcohol laws

It is illegal to operate a vessel in Ontario while consuming alcohol. While underway, open alcohol cannot be transported on any type of boat in Ontario. Alcohol may only be consumed on board vessels 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 Ontario are the same as those for operating a motorized vehicle.  

The OPP and local municipal police enforce Ontario’s boating and alcohol laws. Contact the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in Ontario.

PENALTIES FOR DRINKING AND BOATING

Boating and Alchohol offences in Ontario 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 Ontario.

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.

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.

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.  

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 Ontario regardless of age are required to obtain and carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or face a minimum $250 fine.

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Ontario's Boating Fines

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Failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card

$250

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Opearting 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 Ontario FAQs

Who Enforces Ontario’s Boating Laws?

Both the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and local municipal police detachments patrol Ontario’s waterways. The OPP operates out of 165 detachments spread across the province and you can get in touch with enforcement officers from anywhere in Ontario.

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

Non-Emergencies:
Call 1-888-310-1122 for non-emergency inquiries such as questions about regulations.

What do I need to know about building a dock or boathouse in Ontario?

Ontario’s rules for building docks and boathouses have recently changed. We’ve summarized dock and boathouse regulation here.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW WHEN GOING THROUGH THE LOCKS

Ontario boaters have access to some of the most extensive lock systems in North America. Find out what you need to know to stay safe when taking your boat through the locks

How To Get a Boat License in Ontario

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.

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 ONTARIO

Buying a boat in Ontario? 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 ONTARIO?

No, boat owners are not required to have boat insurance in Ontario. 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 Ontario 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 Cottage Country

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Ontario Boating Destinations

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!

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.

Helpful resources for boating in Ontario

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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.