Passenger Vessels FAQ

Information for Passengers

What is a passenger vessel?

A passenger vessel is any vessel that carries at least one passenger. A passenger is generally anyone who pays for a trip on a vessel.

Does this include activities like sightseeing, water taxis, ferries, and harbour cruises?

Yes. It includes all vessels receiving payment from passengers.

Are tour boat operations subject to safety regulations?

Yes. The safety of tour boat operations is regulated under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

Are small non-pleasure vessels inspected for safety by the government?

Small non-pleasure vessels may be inspected by Transport Canada at any time. Larger vessels - such as those carrying more than 12 passengers - are inspected annually.

Does the operator require certification of his/her qualifications?

The certification of small passenger vessel operators varies depending on factors such as the size of the vessel or the number of passengers.

Should I know the location of safety equipment?

Yes. Safety is a shared responsibility - shared between the boat operator and the passenger. While Transport Canada is responsible for establishing the safety requirements and inspecting vessels to verify compliance, passengers should also take precautionary measures to enhance their own safety while out on a tour. This includes making sure you get the information you need for a safe trip and ensuring the operator provides a safety briefing before setting out. Listen carefully to this briefing to make sure you know where the life jackets, life-rafts and other safety equipment are located, and what to do in the event of an emergency. Make sure there are sufficient life-jackets of the right size for children accompanying you on the outing.

Should I wear my lifejacket while on the tour?

Wearing a life-jacket is prudent, but optional while on an open deck of some vessels. However, life-jackets should not be worn inside the passenger cabin as this could impede escape in an emergency. Confirm with the operator the best practice for the vessel you are about to board. In all cases, you should ensure that:

  • you know where the life-jackets are located;
  • they are easily accessible; and
  • they fit.

Before the vessel leaves the dock, parents or guardians should ensure there are sufficient life-jackets of the right size for children accompanying them on the outing.

What should I do if I notice that the tour boat or its operator does not meet the above requirements?

You may choose not to board the vessel. For more information, contact the nearest Transport Canada Marine Safety office:

  • Pacific region: (604) 666-5300
  • Prairie and Northern region: 1 (888) 463-0521
  • Ontario region: (519) 383-1825
  • Quebec region: 1 (888) 649-6292
  • Atlantic region: 1 (800) 387-4999

Information for Operators

Where can I get more information on Transport Canada's requirements for my vessel? 

You may find the following web sites useful:

You may also contact the nearest Transport Canada Marine Safety office to obtain more information.