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Instead of $59.95, for a limited time you pay only $29.95 for everything (the official online boater course, the official boater exam, and the official boater license – legally called the Pleasure Craft Operator Card). Plus: You pay only AFTER you pass the official boater test. Welcome aboard!

What is a boating licence?

In all provinces of Canada, the terms "boating licence", "boat operator card", and "boater card" always refer to the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). A PCOC is the same size and thickness and is made of the same material as a credit card and it looks like this:

Why am I required to carry a PCOC when operating a powered watercraft?

Approximately 200 boating fatalities (and as many as 6,000 non-fatal accidents) occur annually on Canadian waters. The Pleasure Craft Operator Card program was introduced more than two decades ago in an attempt to reduce the number of boating-related injuries and fatalities. And it is working; since the implementation of the program, boating fatalities in Canada have declined steadily.

Who has to carry a PCOC?

All persons regardless of age or nationality must carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card when operating a powered watercraft on any Canadian waters. The term "powered watercraft" includes watercraft fitted with any type or size of motor (even an electric trolling motor).

The PCOC is mandatory in all provinces in Canada. Failure to carry a PCOC on you when operating a power-driven pleasure craft in Canada will result in a fine of $250 (plus administration charges).

How can I get my PCOC?

The most common way to get a PCOC is to complete a Transport Canada-accredited PCOC course followed by the official PCOC exam.

In Canada, PCOCs are issued by course providers that have been accredited by Transport Canada to offer the PCOC course in preparation for an official PCOC exam. Click here to see Transport Canada’s official list of accredited PCOC course providers.

Are all PCOC courses the same?

All PCOC courses are written to comply with the same Transport Canada course syllabus. As a result, the content of the various PCOC courses is the same.

However, the prices charged for a PCOC program (PCOC course, PCOC exam, and official PCOC) can be as high as $49.95. Whereas, freecourse.ca charges only $29.95 for everything (official PCOC course, official PCOC exam, and official permanent PCOC).

If all PCOC courses are so similar, why do their prices differ?

Some course providers have very high profit margins as well as very high overhead costs (for instance, many spend heavily to advertise in traditional media, on social media, on online search engines, and in other marketing channels). We, on the other hand, have slim profit margins and lower overhead costs and we pass the savings on to our clients.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions on all aspects of Canadian PCOC regulations. If you have a question that should be added to this list, please send it to: support@freecourse.ca

In Canada, failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card while operating a powered watercraft risks a fine of $250 (plus administrative charges). Other common boating offences and their associated fines (not including administrative charges) include:
  • Not having enough approved lifejackets on board = $200 per count
  • Careless operation = $200
  • Speeding = $100
  • Allowing someone under age to operate a boat = $250
  • Operating a powered watercraft if you are underage = $100
  • Operating a powered watercraft without a working muffler = $100
  • Towing a person without the aid of a spotter = $100
No. The requirement to carry a PCOC when operating a powered watercraft on any Canadian waters applies to all operators, regardless of age.
The PCOC regulations are enforced by provincial, county, municipal, and river and harbour police forces as well as by any persons that the Minister of Transport designates as enforcement officers. In addition to carrying a PCOC, the regulations require powered watercraft operators to carry proof of age.
If your sailboat is not fitted with a propulsion engine, then you do not need to carry a PCOC but if your sailboat is fitted with any type of propulsion engine, then you must carry a PCOC when operating that sailboat (even while you are under sail and the engine is not operating).
The PCOC is valid (and mandatory) in all Canadian provinces.

A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) is a certificate (proof of competency) and is for the operator of a boat. The PCOC is not a license; think of a PCOC as being equivalent to a driver education certificate.

A Pleasure Craft License (PCL) is a document with a unique licence number for a particular pleasure craft (a pleasure craft is any vessel used for pleasure, recreation, or daily living). The PCL number serves as identification for that watercraft and allows search and rescue personnel to access important information in an emergency. No fee is required to get this licence. Every pleasure craft must have a Pleasure Craft Licence, with the following exceptions:

  • A pleasure craft using only a motor with less than 10 horsepower (7.5 kW); or
  • A pleasure craft that has been registered; or
  • A pleasure craft that was purchased less than 90 days previously (this is a grace period, during which the new owner must carry documentation that bears their name, address, and the purchase date).

There are two ways to apply for a Pleasure Craft Licence.

  1. Apply by mail: Print and complete the Application for Pleasure Craft Licence and mail it along with the required documents to:
    Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
    P.O. Box 2006
    Fredericton, New Brunswick
    E3B 5G4
  2. Apply online: Access the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing System and follow all instructions.

After you receive your Pleasure Craft Licence document in the mail, you must use it as follows:

  • Carry the Pleasure Craft Licence document on board at all times; and
  • Display the license number on both sides of your boat’s bow. The number must appear in block characters which are:
    • At least 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) high; and
    • In a colour that contrasts with the colour of the bow.

There is a $250 fine if you are found operating a vessel without a Pleasure Craft Licence number.

No. A driver’s permit is not required to operate a powered watercraft but you must carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (and official ID with your date of birth) when operating a powered watercraft.
Non-residents need to obtain a PCOC if they are operating their powered watercraft in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive days or if the boat they are operating is registered or licensed in Canada (this includes rented boats).

Horsepower restrictions for young people can be summarized as follows:

Age Restriction
Under 12 years of age and unsupervised Can operate a boat with under 10 HP (7.5 KW)
12 to 16 years of age and unsupervised Can operate a boat with under 40 HP (30 KW)
Under 16 years of age Not allowed to operate a PWC*
16 years and older No power restrictions

* PWC = Personal water craft (examples: Seadoo, Jet ski)

A PCOC is not yet legally required to operate a rented powerboat but most rental companies now require renters to hold a valid PCOC to rent their boats.

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Wear It!

Failure to wear a flotation device is the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities. When on the water, the single-most important thing that you can do to prevent drowning is to always wear a properly adjusted PFD or lifejacket of appropriate type, size, and fit.

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