Ontario Boating License: 7 Important Things To Know

ontario boating license

Do you have a boat? Yes? I am sure that you are tempted to spend your vacation sailing in Lake Ontario or anywhere in Canadian waters.

(Read Traveling In Canada: Top 9 Important Do’s & Don’ts While Traveling In Canada if you are traveling for the first time).

But, wait! There is a rule for that. You need to carry proof of competency to do so. You will need something that shows you understand the basic rules of boating and how to safely operate a boat. Canada Boating License or Ontario Boating License is what you will need to have. The license is required with a power-driven boat (even when the motor is not in use).

The boating license, officially known as Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), must be availed from a Transport Canada Accredited organization. You have to go through a certified boat safety course online and then give an exam on it. After passing, you can get your boating license via email.

Here is the detailed process you need to go through to get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Who can apply for Ontario Boating License?

The good news is, there is no restriction for that! Transport Canada has no age or citizenship restriction on applying for a pleasure craft operator card. No minimum age is required to take the online course, and interestingly, you do not need to be a resident of Canada to take the boating course as well.

ontario boating license

By aka CJ/Flickr.Copyright 2021.

Who does not need Ontario Boating License?

Not everyone needs PCOC to operate a pleasure craft/watercraft. Two important things to note here:

  • If you are visiting Canada with your boat or want to go boating for lesser than 45 consecutive days, you are all free from this rule.
  • If you are planning to boat in the waters of Nunavut or the Northwest Territories, ‘Proof of competency’ is not required.

Register for a Boating Safety Course.

To obtain your Ontario boating license, you need to enroll in a transport Canada accredited online course on boating safety education. You will learn the basics of boat safety through mediums like interactive animations, easy-to-use GPS navigation, customizable nautical maps, and many more.

After completing, you need to sit for the Transport Canada Test to get your pleasure craft operator card. You are now free to start boating in some of the best freshwater lakes of the Canadian Province of Ontario.

The online world is full of such course providers. But, you have to be careful when selecting one, as Transport Canada-approved courses are eligible for obtaining a boating license in Canada.

Let me help you a little more here. Here is the list of some providers who offer Transport Canada Approved online boating courses to get your pleasure craft operator cards.

  1. Aqua Safe
  2. BOATsmart!
  3. Boat-Ed.com
  4. CanadaBoatSafety.com
  5. Boaterexam.com under Skipper Online Services (SOS)

(You can get the full list of Transport Canada Accredited PCOC Course Providers here.)

Every opportunity is a source of new learning.

What will you learn through the course?

The course module of Transport Canada approved Boat Safety Course is very much flexible, and you can learn things at your own pace. Online courses are iOs or Android App Compatible too.

In your online boating safety course, you will get to learn basic lessons on the following:

Basic Boating Terminology

In the online course for boating license, you will learn about the basic jargon of equipment, methods, and maneuvers of nautical activities. These terminologies are most likely to be covered in the Transport Canada operator Competency Test. By learning these topics, you will be familiar with the parts of your pleasure craft and tools used for navigation or in emergencies.

Laws and regulations applied to a Pleasure Craft

If you want to operate a motorized boat in Canadian Waters, you must go through its laws and regulations. The boating course also educates on major acts, regulations, and codes affecting pleasure craft operators in Canada. It will be good for you to get familiarised with the need for a boat license, licensing of pleasure craft, boat insurance, and all the necessary domains that come with The Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which is the law that governs pleasure craft.

Preparing for Boating Trips

The ‘Transport Canada Boating Safety Test’ may also have questions on how to prepare and manage your boat safely. Here, you will learn about planning your trips, things to take care of, a list of safety equipment, and more. In this topic, you will be taught how to prepare yourself, your boat, and your guests before leaving the dock.

Boat Saftey Equipment

Boating in Ontario or anywhere in Canadian Waters is not advisable without safety equipment. To get the proof of competency, the pleasure craft operators must learn the types of safety equipment every pleasure craft is required to carry. You will also get to know the importance of making sure that all the right boating safety equipment is on board and in good working order.

Aids to Navigation System

‘Aids to Navigation’ are the system or structures or devices deployed on the water/land to help boat-owner reaching boating destinations. In your online course material, you will get to know all about them. You will also learn how to safely share waterways with others, including larger and less maneuverable commercial vessels.

Boating emergencies

To avoid unexpected damage to your pleasure craft like every other vehicle, you must opt to buy boat insurance (visit Aviva Canada). In Transport Canada Accredited Course, you will get lessons on handling emergencies like vessel breakdowns, external fatalities, and how to send a distress message to request help. It will help you to know how to prevent unsafe situations once underway.

You can learn these lessons in person or online too. If you love to sit in a classroom and learn alongside lots of student-instructor interaction or want to learn via audiovisual mode in an online environment, the choice is yours. Just sign in to a Transport Canada accredited course provider, and you are good to go.

Take the Online Exam.

The best thing about Transport Canada Boating Safety Test is that you can take it whenever you find it convenient. The easiest way to get your pleasure craft operator card is to take the exam online. Otherwise, you can take the exam by scheduling it, once you arrive in Ontario.

The Transport Canada Test for Ontario Boating License consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. You will need to complete the test within the allotted time, i.e. 75 minutes. You must score 75% or above 75% to avoid disqualification.

But, don’t get discouraged just yet. Transport Canada Test always gives you another chance with the online exam to get your boating license. If you fail, you can re-take the exam after 24 hours of your first take (Great!).

Print your Ontario Boating License.

On passing the exam, you need not wait longer to get your boating license. On the spot, you can print a temporary card and use it. It does not take long.

To get your permanent card, it may take 2 to 3 weeks. Your permanent boat license will be mailed to you. See? Isn’t getting your Ontario Boating License is easier than you thought?

To get a Replacement Card.

In case you lost your temporary license or your permanent Pleasure Craft Operator Card/Ontario Boating License, you need not worry too! All you have to do is to contact your course provider and they will do the rest. It is possible to get your Replacement Card within 4 weeks of applying. You can also carry your temporary card in the meantime. It is legal too.

But, if you do not remember your course provider, or it is no longer in service, or its service got suspended, you can call the Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687 or email at pcoc-ccep@tc.gc.ca. They will search your name in the national database of cardholders. You need not worry as an agent will be in touch to tell you what you need to do next.

How much does an Ontario Boating License Cost?

Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) / Ontario Boating License is the only thing required to operate a motor-powered boat legally. All fees related to courses, tests, card replacement services are determined by the course providers themselves. However, it does not cost much. You will need to pay around $49.95 for the online course for Ontario Boating License. Some course providers also don’t charge extra to replace your missing PCOC Card.

There is no limit for your knowledge, and our world, is a perfect place for us to start learning.

Getting an Ontario License is very simple and convenient. You might have got that for now. Whether you want to sail through Lake Ontario, Georgian Bay, or pristine Lake of the Woods, just take your ‘Pleasure Craft Operator Card’ and hop in.


You could enjoy camping, hiking, movie theaters, dining on the bank of waterlines too! Why wait? Log in to the channel you are interested in and apply for your license. 

(Note: Be a Responsible Boat Owner. It is always good to be careful and responsible while you are traveling/boating. Click at ‘How to be a responsible boat owner‘, an ultimate checklist Transport Canada provides for safe boating.)

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