Get a marine pilotage licence or certificate

In Canada, once a vessel enters a compulsory pilotage area, the vessel must have a marine pilot guide it through the area. These pilots are experts in their field, they use their maritime experience as well as their in-depth local knowledge of the waterways to ensure that ships travel safely in compulsory pilotage areas.

Transport Canada works with pilotage authorities to issue, renew, replace, suspend, and cancel Canadian marine pilotage documents which include licences and certificates. Experienced seafarers can apply for a marine pilotage licence or certificate by contacting your local pilotage authority:

On this page

Get a pilotage license

You can earn a pilotage licence through an apprenticeship with a pilotage authority. For more information on apprenticeships please visit the pilotage authorities’ websites.

Once you complete your apprenticeship, the pilotage authority will submit your application for a pilotage licence to Transport Canada for review and issuance.

Get a pilotage certificate

If you are a regular crew member on a domestic ship and want to pilot the vessel through a compulsory pilotage area, you will need a pilotage certificate. To qualify for a pilotage certificate, you need to meet the requirements in the Pilotage Act and General Pilotage Regulation Divisions for the Pacific, Great Lakes, Atlantic, and Laurentian Pilotage Authority Regions. Once you meet these requirements, you can apply for a pilotage certificate through a board of exams or by completing a pilotage certification program that is currently managed by the various pilotage authorities (please see websites for more information).

Once you complete your exam or training program, the pilotage authority will submit your application for a pilotage certificate to Transport Canada for review and issuance.

We’re currently developing a National Pilotage Certification Program. This program will ensure a consistent approach to certification across all compulsory pilotage areas in Canada.

After you apply

Processing time

We process applications in the order they arrive. The service standard is 5 business days to process an application. If your application is incomplete, it may take longer to process while waiting for required documentation.

To check the status of your application please email with:

  • your name
  • your Candidate Document Number (CDN), and
  • the area you applied for

Replace a document

If you need to replace a pilotage document, please email:

Confirm the status of a document request

Confirm the validity of a document via the Seafarer Certificate Database.

If you have questions or need something verified, please email:

Return a suspended or cancelled document

Canadian law gives Transport Canada the power to suspend or cancel a pilotage document. If you have questions about a document being suspended or cancelled, please email:

Contact us


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