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Vessel Licensing
January 25th, 2013 @ 12:05 AM EST by admin
forwarded by Walter Kowalchuk, Executive Director, Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons. Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS) is celebrating their 75th Anniversary in 2013. Since 1938 CPS has been Canada’s premier recreational boating educator and, as part of their celebration activities, a series of articles on boating and boating safety are being published in our newsletter. These articles have been written by John Gullick, CPS Manager, Government and Special Programs. John took his first CPS course 25 years ago and is now a Life Member. He is a Past Commodore of the Peterborough Sailing Club and has been Chairman or President of many recreational Boating organizations. He is a well-recognized Boating Safety Specialist and freelance writer.

Vessel Licenses

These are not to be confused with a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)  which is an operator competency certificate required to operate any powered vessel. The Pleasure Craft License contains the ID numbers that you must purchase and attach to each side of the bow on your boat. They are accompanied by a Pleasure Craft License document, a copy of which must be kept on the boat at all times. A Vessel License is required for any powered vessel that has one or more motors that add up to 7.5 kW (10hp) or greater unless the boat is registered (see below). Tenders or dinghies that are carried on board or towed behind a licensed boat must also be licensed. This document is similar to a motor vehicle ownership certificate in that it contains information about the boat and its owner and also contains a section that must be completed and submitted by the new owner when the boat is sold. Application forms are available on line from Transport Canada at or for pick up at your local Service Canada Centre. Applications for pleasure craft license along with supporting documentation must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre:
Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre P.O. Box 2006 Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5G4
Allow at least ten (10) business days plus mailing time to process your application. Applications cannot be processed unless you provide complete information and include all required documents. You need a bill of sale. If the vessel has already been licensed you will also need the vessel license signed off by the original owner. To transfer a license to your name, submit the following documents:
  • a completed Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft License;
  • proof of ownership of the pleasure craft; and
  • a signed photocopy of a valid piece of government-issued identification.
Instructions about how to fill out Form 84-0172E, Application for Pleasure Craft License, may be found on the Transport Canada Boating Safety site’s How-to page. In particular, see the "To transfer a pleasure craft license" section. If you do not have documents that prove you own the pleasure craft, you will need to make a declaration under oath stating why you cannot produce the bill of sale or proof of ownership. You can use the sample declaration form (PDF Version, 62 KB) * provided on this site or another similar document, as long as it contains all the information required. When applying for a pleasure craft license, include a signed photocopy of your personal identification document. We will return the photocopy to you when we send you your license. Your application and supporting documents must be mailed-in for processing to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre, address above. Regulations require you display the Pleasure Craft License on both sides of the bow, above the waterline and as far forward as is practical. The numbers and letters must be in block and at least 7.5 cm (3”) high. Their colour must contrast with the background. You may choose to get a vessel license for safety reasons if your boat does not require one. This will help Search and Rescue personnel get information about your boat 7/24. A Pleasure Craft License does not prove ownership and Service Canada and Transport Canada cannot confirm ownership so when entering another country carry a bill of sale along with the Pleasure Craft License. Don’t forget the same for tenders and dinghies. Failure to produce these documents can cause delays, trouble and possibly fines when clearing customs.

Boat Registration

It is no longer required to register a pleasure craft that is over 15 gross tons but you can still choose to do so. There are costs to registering a boat but there are also a number of benefits which include:
  • A unique name and official number.
  • Proof of ownership – legal title.
  • The right to fly the Canadian flag.
  • The ability to use your boat as security for a marine mortgage.
For more information contact Transport Canada or go to

In Closing

If you have any specific boating safety related questions, please feel free to “Just Ask John” at CPS can also offer free Recreational Vessel Courtesy Checks (RVCC) at your club during your boating season. Again, contact John Gullick.