Almost 9 million boaters navigate Canada’s waterways each year.
To make boating safer for all, the Canadian Coast Guard launched a mandatory licensing program for pleasure craft powerboat operators in 1999. Today all boat operators, regardless of age or engine horsepower, must carry proof of competency or risk a $250 fine. Provincial Police, Conservation Officers and the RCMP are responsible for enforcement.
The Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCO Card) is the easiest way to show proof of competency. To get your card, you must attain a mark of at least 75 percent on a 36-question, multiple-choice Transport Canada accredited test. Once you successfully complete the test and obtain a license, you have it for life. There is no re-testing or re-licensing required.
Besides the PCO Card, proof of competency can include proof of having successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada prior to April 1st 1999; or completion of a rental-boat safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats).
The pleasure craft operator’s course focuses on educating mariners on the rules of the waterways and restricting children from operating certain vessels based on age and engine horsepower.
How this applies to operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes:
|Under 12 years of age, and not directly supervised*||Can operate a vessel with no more than 10 hp (7.5 KW)|
|Between 12 years and under 16 years of age, and not directly supervised*||Can operate a vessel with no more than 40 hp (30 KW)|
|Under 16 years of age||Not allowed to operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC)|
|16 years of age and over||No power restrictions|
- The above age / horsepower limitation chart refers to “not directly supervised” when under the age of 16. Directly supervised means accompanied by and directly supervised by someone 16 years of age or older.
If you don’t already have your pleasure craft operator’s card, a list of course providers is available from Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-paperwork-paperwork_operator-360.htm