If you own a boat or are thinking of buying one, there is a lot to know. Boats come in all shapes and sizes. If you own a personal watercraft, sailboat, commercial vessel, pleasure craft with a motor or luxury yacht, you are responsible for using it safely, keeping it in good working order and properly disposing of it when it reaches the end of its life. You are also responsible for any pollution or hazard-related costs, including clean-up and/or repairs.
On this page
- Plan to become a responsible boat owner
- License or register your boat
- Meet all safety requirements
- How to plan for the end of life of your boat
Plan to become a responsible boat owner
Buying a boat is a big decision. You will need to decide on your budget and what kind of boat is the best for you. Make sure you factor in all costs like maintenance, insurance, fuel and disposal or recycling. You’ll also need to know about the rules and regulations for your boat.
License or register your boat
While these words mean one thing when we talk about owning and driving a car, they mean different things when we talk about boats.
Whether you need a licence or registration for your boat depends on what kind of boat you have and the size. Licences and registrations are used to identify boats and also to help with search and rescue. Always be sure to keep your licence and registration information up to date.
Learn about whether your boat needs to be licensed or registered.
Meet all safety requirements
It is important to operate your boat safely and responsibly. Here are some resources that will help you:
- Pleasure Craft Owners: Transport Canada's Safe Boating Guide (PDF, 4.7 MB)
- Small Commercial Vessel Owners: Small Vessel Compliance Program and Transport Canada's Small Commercial Vessel Safety Guide
- Commercial Fishermen: Transport Canada's Small Fishing Vessel Safety Manual
Also, if you plan to use a boat with a motor, you need to show that you have proof of competency or certification.
Learn how to operate your boat
There are many organizations and businesses that can help you learn to operate your boat.
Maintain your boat
Keeping your boat working well will make your day on the water more fun and safe. Nobody wants to get stuck on the open water because of mechanical problems. Using a checklist before you head out for the day and keeping a regular maintenance routine will keep your boat in good shape longer.
Make sure you also respect the environment. As a boat owner, you are also responsible for any pollution-related incidents, including costs for clean-up and/or repairs. Under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, this will now include any hazard-related costs.
How to plan for the end-of-life of your boat
There comes a time for every boat owner when they no longer want or need their boat.
You may choose to sell it. If you do, make sure that the ownership documents and the licence or registration are properly transferred.
If your boat has reached the end of its useful life, don’t abandon it. Abandoning your boat is against the law. Part of owning a boat of any kind is disposing of it in the proper way before it causes problems to the environment or to the safety of others. Owners of boats are responsible for pollution or hazard-related costs including clean-up and/or repairs.
Here are some options:
- Find a boat recycling facility in your area
- Search for charities or companies in your region that may want your boat
- Ask the nearest landfill operator if they accept old boats
- Ask local boat retailers if they take old boats in trade
How to be a responsible boat owner
(PDF, 504 KB)