Operating A Boat Requires A Boating License

By Carlene Kosloski

Every year, many Canadian residents and visitors to Canada enjoy the experience of boating on Ontario's waters. If you operate a power-driven boat in Ontario's waters, the government requires that you have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The law was enacted as a way to make boating safer and reduce the number of boating accidents. This is not just the law for Ontario, but it is the law for all of Canada.

The license you must have is called the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations states that "a Pleasure Craft Operator Card is a document issued to a person by the administrator of an accredited test, to a person that has passed the test. Therefore, a card cannot be issued unless an accredited test has been passed." You can obtain the PCOC card by taking a boating exam from a private accredited organization that offers the test. You can classroom course, an online course, or just take the test without a course. It is highly recommended that you take a boating course.

Once you have passed the exam, you will be sent your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The card entitles you to operate any motor-driven recreational watercraft in the province of Ontario. You are also mandated to keep the PCOC card with you when you operate your boat. Before navigating Ontario's water, it is recommended that you take a boating safety course as it will make you a safe and responsible boater. You will learn about Canada's boating regulations that include: operating a boat safely, navigating in Canadian waters, vessel right of way, safe boating speeds, collision regulations, small vessel regulations, laws regulating the operation of recreational watercraft.

Power boat competency regulations in Canada require boaters born after April 1, 1983 are mandated to carry the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Those who have taken a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999 will not be required to take another course or test. A copy of a certificate or a card issued upon the completion of boating courses taken prior to April 1, 1999 will need to be carried onboard the power-driven pleasure watercraft. As of Sept. 15, 2002, anyone who is operating a powered recreational vessel less than 4 meters in length must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. As of Sept 15th 2009, all operators of power-driven recreational personal watercraft must obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

If you have taken boating safety courses previously, the courses may be recognized. Experienced boaters write a challenge test without taking a course. Foreign visitors with a pleasure boat in Canada will be granted a grace period of 45 consecutive days. Those renting a vessel must complete a dockside checklist.

The laws regarding operating a motor-driven watercraft were enacted to improve boating safety and prevent boating accidents. It is important to follow the law and carry your boat license when boating in Ontario or you risk fines. It will also make your boating experience on Ontario's waters much safer and more enjoyable.

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