As of September 15, 2009 all recreational boaters in Canada must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card*, commonly known as a Canadian Boating License. Boaters caught without the card* risk a $250.00 fine. Take the boating course online, pass the 36 question multiple choice exam and get certified for life.

*Pleasure Craft Opeator Card or proof of competency

Fast Facts!

  • Take your Pleasure Craft Operator Card Exam from one of BOATsmart! Canada's Safe Boating Teams or Certified Affiliate locations near you
  • Once obtained your Operator Card (commonly know as a boating license) is good for life
  • Temporary slip is provided immediately upon passing the boating exam
  • Exam consists of 36 multiple choice questions
  • Passing grade is 75% or greater (27 out of 36)
  • Accredited by Transport Canada

To take your boater exam now, click here!

Who is BOATsmart! Canada?

BOATsmart! Canada promotes the safe, enjoyable and environmentally conscious use of Canada's waterways. Our organization is committed to helping Canadians boat safely and with confidence. As Canada's largest Course Provider, we are a leader in boating safety education and Pleasure Craft Operator Card certification.

Is BOATsmart! Canada a recognized boating safety organization?

Yes. All BOATsmart! Canada course materials, training programs, and exams have been officially accredited by Transport Canada.

Do I need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

All operators of power driven pleasure craft (including Personal Water Crafts and motorized sailboats) used for recreational purposes within Canada are now required to carry proof of competency. The following are considered proof of competency:

* Pleasure Craft Operator Card
* Recognized Boating Safety Course Certificate (Issued prior to April 1, 1999)
* Rental Boat Safety Checklist

When do I need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

* ALL operators of powered watercraft used for recreational purposes require a Pleasure Craft Operator Card* as of September 15, 2009.
* There are no exemptions for age, size of boat or engine size.
* Powered watercraft means any recreational boat, personal watercraft, sailing vessel, or other type of craft fitted with any size motor - including electric trolling motors.
*or proof of competency

Is there a "Grandfather Clause"?

All pleasure craft operators will be required to obtain an Operator Card. There is no "grandfather" clause or age exemption.

What is the fine for operating a powered watercraft without your card?

The fine for operating a powered watercraft without a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (or proof of competency) on board is $250.00 plus provincial administrative charges.

Who will enforce the law and issue fines?

The law requiring boat operators to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (or proof of competency) is enforced by peace officers including RCMP, OPP and Conservation Officers (depending on province and/or jurisdiction). The law requires operators of powered watercraft to carry proof of age as well as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (or proof of competency) on board at all times.

Is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card a "boating license"?

Although its commonly referred to as a "boating license", the Operator Card is actually a "Competency Card". By successfully passing the BOATsmart! Exam and obtaining your Operator Card you have proven your competency as a safe boat operator.

If the Operator Card isn't a boating license, can it be revoked or suspended?

A "license" can be revoked, suspended and typically has an expiry date. However, a Pleasure Craft Operator Card cannot be revoked or suspended and once obtained, the card good for life.

Do I need a boating license as well as an Operator Card?

No. Canadian law does not require recreational boaters to obtain a boating license. The only legal requirement for boaters is to carry proof of competency (i.e. Pleasure Craft Operator Card) on board at all times.

Do I need a driver's license to operate a watercraft?

No - a driver's license is not required to operate a watercraft. However, you must carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (or recognized proof of competency) on board at all time while operating a powered watercraft.

Is there a difference between a Pleasure Craft Operator Card and a Pleasure Craft License?

The Pleasure Craft Operator Card is required for the operator of a boat, whereas a Pleasure Craft License is required for all boats fitted with a engine of 10 HP or more. The original Pleasure Craft Licence certificate must be carried on board at all times and the Pleasure Craft License number must be displayed in a visible area on the both the port and starboard side of each recreational vessel. Specific regulations as to the size and placement of the License numbers can be found in the Canada Shipping Act Small Vessel Regulations.

You can apply for a Pleasure Craft License at your local Service Canada outlet. For the location nearest you please visit or call 1-800-O-CANADA

How do I get my Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

You can obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card by passing the 36 question, multiple choice exam offered by BOATsmart! Canada. You must achieve a score of at least 75% to pass the exam and obtain your Operator Card.

Is my Operator Card good for life?

Yes. Once obtained, your Operator Card is good for  life. If your Operator Card is lost or stolen you can purchase a replacement from BOATsmart! Canada.

I have already completed a boating safety course. Is it recognized?

Certificates for recognized boating safety courses completed before April 1, 1999 may exempt you from taking the exam. If you've already taken a course prior to these regulations - and have proof - then that course certificate or card will be accepted as proof of competency. The ORIGINAL course certificate must be carried on board the pleasure craft at all times. Photocopies are not valid.

Do visitors from foreign countries need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

Non-residents operating their pleasure craft in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive days are required to obtain an Operator Card. An operator card or equivalent issued to a non-resident by their state or country may be considered as proof of competency. Please contact us for more details.

Do commercial operators need a Card?

No. As long as you are operating your craft for commercial purposes then you are not required to show proof of competency. However, if you operate your vessel (or any other pleasure craft) for recreational purposes you are required to show proof of competency.

Who should participate in the BOATsmart! Canada Program?

Any person who operates a pleasure craft in Canada should participate. The BOATsmart! Canada Safe Boating Program covers all aspects of safe boating and responsible operation on Canadian waterways. Boaters of any age and ability are encouraged to participate in the BOATsmart! Canada Program.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Boaters have four options to prepare for the exam:

* BOATsmart! Canada Home Study Guide
* BOATsmart! Canada CD-ROM
* Online Safe Boating Course
* BOATsmart! Canada Classroom Course

Each format is recognized and approved by Transport Canada and includes all the knowledge you need in order to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. To order a copy of the BOATsmart! Canada Safe Boating Manual or CD-ROM call toll free: 1-877-792-3926

Is there an online safe boating course or Canadian Safe Boating Course on the internet?

Yes. BOATsmart! Canada offers a comprehensive safe boating course online. The online boating course includes all of the knowledge required to take the boating exam. BOATsmart! Canada also offers classroom courses for safe boating and the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Call toll free 1-877-792-3926

What will I learn?

BOATsmart! Canada educational resources include all the knowledge you need in order to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Topics include:

* Canadian Boating Rules and Regulations
* Properly Equipping Your Craft
* Operating Your Boat Safely
* Ensuring the Safety of Your Passengers
* Understanding Navigational Aids
* Properly Maintaining Your Craft and Equipment
* Responding to Emergencies and Distress Signals

Boaters Exam click here!