Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)

Have you lost or damaged your Pleasure Craft Operator Card? We recently launched a new Course Provider Lookup tool. Check out the Replacing your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) section below for more information.

Until 1999, anyone could operate a boat, regardless of boating safety knowledge, experience or training. A lot has changed to make our waterways safer since then. One important reason for fewer recreational boating deaths and injuries is the requirement that boat operators demonstrate their boating safety knowledge by obtaining proof of competency.

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Obtaining a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)

Boaters who do not already have one of the other documents accepted as proof of competency must obtain a PCOC. You do this by passing a boating safety test; usually the test is taken at the end of a boating safety course.

All boating safety courses and tests leading to the issuance of a PCOC are delivered by course providers accredited by Transport Canada. You can view the list of accredited course providers online or call the Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687 to request that the list be mailed to you.

All fees for course, test and card services are established by the course providers. Services and fees vary among course providers. The Government of Canada does not collect or receive any fees for boating safety courses, tests or cards.

Boating safety course

The best way to prepare for and pass the boating safety test is by taking a boating safety course from an accredited course provider. Courses are available in the classroom and online. By taking a boating safety course, you will learn about:

  • your responsibilities as a boat operator
  • how to get your boat, your guests and yourself prepared before leaving the dock
  • the importance of making sure all the right boating safety equipment is on board and in good working order
  • how to prevent unsafe situations once underway
  • how to safely share waterways with others, including larger and less manoeuvrable commercial vessels
  • what to do in the event of an emergency

Whether you learn best in the classroom-style setting with lots of student-instructor interaction or prefer to learn at your own pace in an online environment, the information acquired in a boating safety course will help keep you and your guests safe when you are out on the water.

Replacing your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)

Your PCOC is valid for life. For lost or destroyed cards, you can request a replacement from your course provider. Course providers charge a fee for this service.

If you do not know the name of your course provider, use the new Course Provider Lookup tool to find them.

For any other inquiries, contact the Office of Boating Safety.

Proof of competency

In Canada, if you operate a boat with a motor and use it for recreation, you need proof of competency — something that shows you have a basic understanding of how to operate your boat safely and know what to do in an emergency. Proof of competency is required with all motor types (including electric trolling motors) and even when the motor is not in use (such as when sailing).

A variety of documents may serve as proof of competency:

Proof of competency is not required in the following situations:

  • the boat is being operated in the waters of Nunavut or the Northwest Territories
  • a visitor to Canada is operating the boat he or she brought into Canada for less than 45 consecutive days

For complete information, see the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations and visit our Operator Card (PCOC) – FAQ page.

Horsepower restrictions for youth

In addition to the requirement to carry a document serving as proof of competency, boat operators under the age of 16 must also comply with other requirements. Restrictions are imposed on the horsepower (hp) (or kilowatt (kW)) capacity of the motor of the boat they wish to operate.

  • Youth under the age of 12 with no direct supervision may only operate a boat with a motor of up to 10 hp/7.5 kW
  • Youth aged 12–15 with no direct supervision may only operate a boat with a motor of up to 40 hp/30 kW
  • Youth under the age of 16, regardless of supervision, may not operate a personal watercraft (PWC)

These restrictions do not apply in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

"Direct supervision" means a person 16 years of age or older is in the boat and directly supervising the operator.

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