Getting your 15 to 150 gross tonnage vessel inspected and certified

All small commercial marine vessels between 15 and 150 gross tonnage must be inspected and certified by Transport Canada. Any smaller vessel that carries more than 12 passengers must also be inspected and certified.

After an initial inspection, regular inspections are required. The frequency depends upon the vessel’s commercial use.

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Initial inspection and certification

All small commercial vessels must be inspected prior to entering service and must have a valid operating certificate any time they are used for commercial purposes. If Transport Canada has not yet inspected your vessel, it’s your responsibility to arrange for an inspection. This can be done by contacting your local Transport Canada Marine Safety office.

Regular inspections

After the first inspection, regular inspections are required ― either every year or every four years. These regular inspections are necessary to maintain the validity of the vessel’s operating certificate. Read on to see which inspection schedule applies to your vessel.

Annual inspection

Vessels more than 15 gross tonnage or carrying more than 12 passengers must be inspected yearly. Such annual inspections begin after the initial inspection/certification mentioned above.

During the annual inspection, the Transport Canada Marine Safety Inspector inspects the vessel externally and internally. The following are checked:

  • general condition of structures, equipment, and their operation
  • maintenance records, and validity of certificates
  • lifesaving, fire-fighting and fire detection equipment
  • watertight and fire-resisting door/window systems
  • quick-closing arrangements in fuel system
  • main and auxiliary steering gears
  • hatch closures, scuppers and sounding pipes
  • safety guards and rails
  • pressure vessels and pressure-release arrangements
  • bilge-pumping arrangements and oil record books
  • safety notices and instructions
  • navigation and radio equipment
  • electrical equipment and switchboard safety
  • ship-side valves
  • crew accommodation
  • cargo gear safeties

Advise the inspector of any changes that have been made to the vessel or how and where it is used since the last inspection. Accident investigations frequently find that modification to the vessel was a contributing factor.

Inspection every four years

Vessels between 15 and 150 gross tonnage that do not carry passengers, and fishing vessels in this size range, only need to be inspected every four years.

The items checked are similar to the items verified during an annual inspection.

Passenger vessels more than 15 gross tonnage or carrying more than 12 passengers must undergo a more extensive inspection every four years.

Inspection fees and other information

Fees for inspections vary according to the type and size of vessel. Transport Canada’s fees for vessel inspection and related services are based on the Board of Steamship Inspection Scale of Fees.

Important information related to inspections for small passenger vessels is contained in the following Transport Canada document:


Contact Marine Safety

If you still have questions, take a look through the FAQs or Marine Safety: