Pleasure Craft Operator Card

How to obtain your Canadian Boating License

How it works

Boaters can obtain their official Pleasure Craft Operator Card by achieving a mark of at least 75 percent on a Transport Canada Accredited Test. The official Test, which consists of 50 multiple choice questions, covers various aspects of boating safety including responsible boat operation, navigation, marker buoys, safety equipement, emergency preparedness and Canada’s boating laws and regulations. Boaters can prepare for the Test by completing BOATsmart!’s Online Course. Once obtained, the Operator Card is good for life. Boaters caught operating a motorized vessel without their Card face a minimum $250 fine.

What is a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

Proof of competency is required by all operators of motorized vessels in Canada, regardless of age or size of boat. An Pleasure Craft Operator Card is the most common form of “competency”. This means that the holder of the card has proven that he/she has gained the minimum level of knowledge to boat safely. The federal law applies to all operators of motorized vessels, regardless of boat length or engine size including sailboats that are fitted with auxiliary motors, small fishing boats with electric trolling motors as well as personal watercraft. A $250.00 fine is levied by a law enforcement officers upon an operator who fails to show proof of competency or Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Taking the Test

Boaters can obtain their card after attaining a mark of at least 75 percent on a Transport Canada accredited test, such as the one offered by BOATsmart!. Boaters have the option of challenging an accredited exam if they wish, and there is no legal requirement to complete a boating safety course. The exam is offered by BOATsmart! online or in person.

The Regulations

What you need to know about operator competency laws

Non-Canadian boaters

Non-residents who are boating in Canada for up to 45 days do not require proof of competency. However, non-residents who operate an out-of-country vessel in Canada for more than 45 consecutive days do require competency, such as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Proof of citizenship is required on board at all times, and if the person is operating a vessel registered in Canada he/she must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (or proof of competency) even if operating a vessel for less than 45 days.

Commercial operators

Commercial mariners who hold valid recognized professional maritime certificates, such as Master Mariner, can apply to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card to have on board while operating a Pleasure Craft. The completion of a Pleasure Craft Operator Card exam is not required in this instance.

Proof of competency

The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations (part of the Canada Shipping Act 2001) require operators of pleasure craft in Canada, fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes, to have proof of competency on board with them at all times. Proof of competency can take one of three forms:

  • proof of having successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada prior to 1 April 1999;
  • a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) issued following the successful completion of a Transport Canada accredited Test; or
  • a completed rental-boat safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats)