Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who needs a boating license?

A1. All recreational boaters within Canada require their Pleasure Craft Operator Card as of September 15 2009. In order to avoid the fine all boaters in Canada need to have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card or a Recognized Boating Safety Course Certificate (Issued prior to April 1, 1999) when operating any recreational vessel. This includes any craft equiped with an engine (including electric trolling engines).

Q2. How do I get my operator card?

A2. You can visit a safe boating team, typically found at Canadian Tire store fronts. Or you can take a Transport Canada approved online exam from one of several providers. The test will cover areas such as safety equipment requirements, the Canadian Buoy system, how to maneuver waterways, all regulations, and what to do in an emergency.

Q3. When do I have to get the card?

A3. All boaters were required to have their boating license by September 15, 2009. All canadian boaters must either write the test with an approved testing provider or have already completed a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999 and recieved Recognized Boating Safety Course Certificate.

Q4. Do I need to renew my card each year?

A4. No! once you have recieved your Pleasure Craft Operator Card it is good for life. If you lose or misplace your Pleasure Craft Operator Card you can contact the testing provider you wrote the test with and have them issue you a replacement card.

Q5. Do I need a drivers license to get a boating license?

A5. No you do not need a drivers license to get a boating license, but you must have your pleasure craft operator card on you at anytime that you will be operating a motor vessel or else risk a $250 fine. The Pleasure Craft Operator Card is a proof of competency so you need to be able to clearly demonstrate you can operate a motor vessel safely on the water.

Q6. Is it an actual license?

A6. No, the operator card is not an actual license, it is a proof of knowledge on the water. Unlike a license the Pleasure Craft Operator Card doesn’t need to be renewed and can never be revoked. The operator is also good for life! It is a proof of competency and safe boating knowledge.

Q7. How old do you have to be to get a card?

A7. Boaters must be aged 8 or older to obtain their Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Young boaters also have to abide by horsepower regulations falling under the Boating Restriction Regulations. Children between the ages 8-12 can operate a vessel with up to a 10hp engine unsupervised. Children between the ages of 13-15 can operate a vessel with up to a 40hp engine unsupervised. No one under the age of 16 can operate a personal water craft.

Q8. Do I need a boating license to operate a PWC?

A8. Yes, you do need to have your Pleaasure Craft Operator Card to operate any PWC. As well no one under the age of 16 regardles if they have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card or not can not legally operate any PWC.

Q9. Is there a grandfather clause?

A9. No, There is no such thing as a grandfather clause for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Unless you have taken a safe boating course prior to April 1, 1999. Other wise you must complete your Pleasure Craft Operator Card with a transport Canada approved course provider.

Q10. What happens if I get caught without the card?

A10. Anyone operating a motor vessel needs to have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card with them at all times, anyone caught without their card could be fined a minimun of $250! which does not include any administrative charges.

Q11. How can I study for the exam?

A11. The best way to study for the exam is by reading the Transport Canada approved study guide available on TheOperatorCard.ca as well as trying the Pleasure Craft Operator Card practice questions available on TheOperatorCard.ca

Q12. Does everybody in the boat need a boating license?

A12. Whoever is operating the vessel will need to have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card or else risk a possible fine. If the operator of the vessel does not have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card and is caught boating without it they could be potential fined $250.

Q13. Can my card be revoked or taken away?

A13. No, The Pleasure Craft Operator is different from a drivers license in that once you have successfully passed a Transport Canada approved PCOC test and have obtained your Pleasure Craft Operator Card it can never be revoked or taken away. You also never have to pay to renew the Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Q14. Do I need the card if I am American?

A14. Americans who boat in Canada will need their boating license if they will be boating for more than 45 consecutive days in Canada, or if their vessel is registed in Canada. Some certificates from different states can be considered proof of competency, but it is a good idea to challenge the Pleasure Craft Operator Card exam and get your card anyways. This way you will be prepared for any situatioon where you may need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card and will also increase your knowledge of Canadian boating rules and regulations.

Q15. Where do I need the card? Is it just good in Canada?

A15. You need your Pleasure Craft Operator card to operate any motorized vessel in all Provinces. Currently you dont need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card if you will be boating in any of the territories. The Pleasure Craft Operator Card is recognized in most US states as well. Remember the fines differ province to province and can be as high as $250 so be sure to always carry your Pleasure Craft Operator card when ever your driving your vessel.

Q16. What if I lose my card?

A16. If you lose your card, you must contact the organization from which you got it, and get a new one sent to you. It is a good idea to order multiple cards once you have passed your test. This way you can leave one on each vessel you have and also have a spair incase of emergency.

Q17. Do I need the Operator Card if I have a sailboat?

A17. You need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card for any vessel equipped with an engine. Even if your vessel is equipped with an engine but it is not being used you will need your card. Most sailboats do have auxiliary engines equiped and as a result you will need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card even while you are primarily under sail.

Q18. What if I’m using my boat for work?

A18. No, You dont need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card if your using your boat for work. You are only required to have your boating license when you are operating a vessel that is being used for recreational activities. Although you dont need your card its a really good idea to get it to make sure you are aware of all the rules and regulations on the water.

Q19. Do I need a boating license if I rent a boat?

A19. Currently you dont need to have a Please Craft Operator Card to rent a boat. All that is need is a completed Rental safety checklist completed by yourself and the renter. Although More and more rental companies require you to have your card to rent from them, but all that is typically needed is the completion of a Rental Safety Checklist.

Q20. Can I take the online exam from my own home?

A20. Yes. The changes implemented by Transport Canada on April 15, 2011 allow boaters to complete the mandatory online study guide and online final exam in the comforts of their own home. Additionally, it is no longer required to have a supervisor while writing the online exam.

Q21. How many questions are on the boat test?

A21. The exam consists of 36 multiple choice questions, covering a wide area of safe boating. In order to pass the boating test, you must score a minimum of 27 out of 36.

Q22. What if I fail the boating test?

A22. You are allowed unlimited retries on the test. If you fail, you must wait 24hrs before attempting the test again.

Q23. What if I had previously taken a boating safety course, do I still need to get the operator card?

A23. If you had taken a recognized boating safety course prior to April 1st, 1999 you are exempt from the pleasure craft operator card as long as you carry your safety certificate on board with you.



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