Licensing and Registering Your Inflatable Boat

licence an inflatable boat

Owning an inflatable boat is not only enjoyment but also a lifestyle. You can fish, go on trips, take boat trips with friends or be alone in the endless water. So, you have already chosen the most suitable pleasure craft for your needs. The first stage of its legalization is the Hull Identification Number, which is already put onboard your vessel by the manufacturer and added to the Coast Guard database. Do you need additional registration or licensing? Let’s find out!

What is a Pleasure Craft Licence?

The Pleasure Craft License is a unique identification number given to a vessel for security purposes that helps to trace the boat and its owner. The number itself and information about the boat and owner are stored in the Transport Canada electronic system. A Pleasure Craft License is required for a boat that meets a particular set of requirements.

Which Boats Need a Licence?

All requirements for the Pleasure Craft License for small boat registration are described in the Small Vessel Regulations of the Shipping Canada Act and Canada’s Maritime Transport Safety Authority. If your boat is registered with the Canadian Register of Vessels or has an engine capacity of less than 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) – no additional registration is required; all other licenses are voluntary.

A Pleasure Craft Licence is required for boats with an engine capacity of 7.5 kW (10 horsepower) or more. What types of motors are, the main differences, is it essential to have a motor more powerful than 10 HP, and how to choose the most suitable one for your boat – read here (link).

Licence vs. Registration – What is Needed?

There is a clear difference between a Pleasure Craft Licence and a Vessels Registration. The former is always used for pleasure and non-commercial purposes. In contrast, the latter is used for commercial or government purposes. Also, the Pleasure Craft License does not denote ownership, while Vessels Registration does.

Pleasure Craft License is obtained for all boats with a 10 hp engine and more. The licensing of a pleasure boat is free of charge. This is done for the safety of the water area. It is issued for 10 years, after which the captain is obliged to renew it. After purchasing a boat, there is a 90-day grace period where the boat can be used without a license.

Vessels Registration is needed for all ships requiring a maritime mortgage; ships travelling outside of Canada; ships requiring a registered name and port of registration; commercial vessels with an engine more potent than 10 horsepower; barges with a capacity of more than 15 tons.

Where Do I Get a Licence?

Today, getting a license is a matter of 10 minutes. On behalf of Transport, Service Canada has 320 license locations across Canada. You can license a new boat for free or transfer ownership of a previously licensed boat, update license information, or request a renewal. Licensing rules may vary slightly, depending on the provinces – check the relevant information in the locations that suit you!

It is also possible to obtain a license online at Fill out the form at the link

How to Register a Boat in Ontario?

The basic procedure for Ontario boat registration is the same as in most provinces and is described at You need to select 3 boat names (of which one will be approved), pay $250, complete an application for registration, provide a certificate of ownership and a statement of qualifications to register the boat and measure your boat by tonnage.

Transferring Ownership Of Your Boat

A pleasure boat license is not legal proof of ownership – boats can be sold without transferring the license. If you have bought a boat that has already been licensed, there are several solutions:

  • Request a new license from Transport Canada «Marine Safety.»
  • Obtain the previous license number of the prior owner. To make a pleasure craft license transfer, you must take the “bill of sale” signed by the previous owner and the completed transfer form (backside of the Pleasure Craft license form) and contact Service Canada. The license number must be entered into the Pleasure Craft Licensing System to make appropriate changes to the boat owner. If you are selling a boat, follow the instructions on the back of the license. The new owner makes further actions on the boat ownership transfer. After the purchase and sale transaction, the license for the vessel must be transferred within 90 days.

Explaining Boat Numbers

The size of a license number must be a minimum of 3 inches and attached to the hull on both sides as close to the boat’s bow as possible. The colour of the number should be as contrasting as possible compared to the colour of the boat’s hull. Numbers can be painted or pasted on.

The character set in the license number has the following sequence:

  1. Two letters come first – provincial digraphs.
  2. The following numbers are assigned to the boat in a particular order.

Licenses beginning with the letter “C” refer to small commercial craft licensed before 2007. Until 2007, the sequence was different – such numbers are still found. However, their owners are strongly advised to replace them with new ones.

What is the Difference Between Canadian & U.S. Terminology

Boat owners who move from Canada to the US and vice versa may be confused by the similarities in boat legalization. Canadian Pleasure Craft licensing is similar to US boat registration. Canadian Vessel Registration is identical to U.S. Documentation (also developed for commercial vessels). There are also slight differences in the spelling of words and articles and differences in the use of postal abbreviations.

Buying or Importing a U.S. boat

The Free Trade Agreement with the US provides relatively low import taxes on boats and marine equipment manufactured in the USA. After purchasing a boat in the US, residents of Canada can only bring it into Canada for a limited time, after which duties and taxes (GST and PST) must be paid. Canadian law also requires a PCOC (or Proof of Competence) to operate a boat.

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