Apply for or manage a Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL)

This page explains what a Pleasure Craft License is, who needs one, how to apply for one, and how to keep your information up to date.

Understand the differences between a pleasure craft, pleasure craft licence, vessel registration and pleasure craft operator card

Pleasure craft

A pleasure craft is a vessel that is used for pleasure, recreation, or daily living and doesn’t carry passengers. A "passenger" is a person who has paid a fee to be transported in a commercial vessel. A "guest" doesn’t need to pay a fee. Please read Pleasure Craft vs. Non Pleasure-Craft for more information.

Pleasure craft licence

Any pleasure craft that is equipped, even temporarily, with one or more engines whose total power is at least 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) or more in Canada, must have a Pleasure Craft Licence before it can be operated unless it is registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

A pleasure craft licence is a document with a unique number displayed on both sides of the bow of a pleasure craft. The pleasure craft licence is like a licence plate on your car. This number allows police and search and rescue personnel to access important information in an emergency. You may be fined $250 if your pleasure craft does not have a valid licence or is not registered. The Pleasure Craft Licence is not proof of ownership, and is valid for 10 years. You can check the expiry date of your pleasure craft licence with your licence number.


A side view of a boat displaying a licence number on the side of the bow.

Vessel registration

You need to register your vessel if:

  • you are going to use your vessel commercially and it’s powered by motors totalling 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more
  • you plan to use your vessel outside of Canada
  • you need a marine mortgage registered with Transport Canada
  • you require a reserved name

When a vessel is registered it’s recorded in the Canadian Register of Vessels and it is assigned an official number.


A rear view of a boat displaying a reserved vessel name and port of registry.

Pleasure craft operator card (PCOC)

Like a driver’s licence for your car, a PCOC is a proof of competency that demonstrates an understanding of the basic rules for safely operating a pleasure craft. If you do not have a PCOC, you can get one by taking a boating safety course and passing a boating safety test available through a Transport Canada accredited course provider. Courses are available in the classroom and online. See if you meet the requirement for proof of pleasure craft operator competency. A PCOC is valid for life.


A Pleasure Craft Operator Card with blank sections for name, date of birth, card number, and date of issuance.