Recreational Boating North of 60

Recreational boating is a part of daily life for many Northerners. That's why it's important for people living in the North to have the information, tools and resources they need to be safe out on the water.

Transport Canada administers regulations and delivers programs to you to reduce the risks during recreational boating activities.

Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Card

The Pleasure Craft Operator Competency card is a form of proof that pleasure craft operators need to carry to demonstrate their ability to operate a recreational boat. To receive your card - which is good for life - you must pass a test. To prepare for this, you can take a boating safety course through one of Transport Canada's accredited course providers in the North. By taking a boating safety course, you also improve the safety of all boaters and the boating environment. If you rent a boat, you need to complete a rental-boat safety checklist.

At this time, a Pleasure Craft Operator Competency card is not required in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, though operators in these two territories may obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Competency card if they wish, but must obtain the card if they intend on operating a recreational boat outside these two territories. In the Yukon and the rest of Canada, every pleasure craft operator will require a Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Card by September 15, 2009.

Pleasure Craft Licensing

A Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Card is different from a Pleasure Craft Licence, which is the number you must place on the side of your recreational boat. This number helps law enforcement and search and rescue organizations to identify boats. In Canada, every pleasure craft less than 12 metres in length and with a motor over 10 horsepower must be licenced. A Pleasure Craft Licence is free and can be transferred to future owners.

In the North, you can license your pleasure craft at Service Canada Centres in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon. For a complete list of Service Canada Centres where you live, call 1-800-O-Canada or visit Service Canada on-line.

General Boating Safety

Having the right safety equipment while boating can save a life. Transport Canada's Small Vessel Regulations set out the minimum safety equipment required on board recreational boats.

For example, you must carry enough Canadian-approved flotation devices in the right size for everyone on board. Every year in Canada, about 200 people die in recreational boating accidents, and about 90 per cent of all drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). To work, lifesaving equipment must be worn at all times. Believing that you can locate, put on and do up a PFD in the water is dangerous for many reasons. In cold water, for instance, your ability to get into your PFD can be severely impaired.

To find out what other safety equipment you must have, visit or call the boating safety info line at 1-800-267-6687 to request your Safe Boating Guide.

Drinking and Boating Don't Mix

Drinking too much and taking to the water leads to dangerous situations. When you drink and boat, you not only endanger yourself, but also everyone in your boat and others on the waterway.

Drinking and driving (whether on land or water) is illegal and punishable under the Criminal Code, meaning you can be fined or imprisoned if found guilty of an offense. Provinces and territories have their own rules to determine when alcohol can be consumed or how it can be transported aboard a vessel. Contact your local authorities for more information.

Commercial and Non-Pleasure Craft Boating

If you are using your vessel for commercial or other non-pleasure purposes, different rules and regulations apply. For information on these regulations and how they relate to you, visit Transport Canada Marine Safety on-line at or call 1-888-463 0521.

April 2006