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Before Heading out on the water – Licensing or Registering Your Pleasure Craft

As Canadian pleasure craft owners know, their vessels must be either licensed or registered in accordance with the rules and requirements set out in the Canada Shipping Act and its corresponding regulations.  Some vessels are required to be registered, such as commercial watercraft while other types of vessels may be either registered or licensed.  What are your options as a pleasure craft owner?

According to the Small Vessel Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, any pleasure craft powered by a 10 hp or greater motor must be licensed unless the vessel is registered.  Pleasure crafts over 15 gross tonnes were previously required to be registered however this has been changed and currently the owner of a pleasure craft has the option to either license or register. The choice rests with the owner however where there is a mortgage to be recorded against a pleasure craft, the lender will generally require the vessel to be registered.  Additionally, if your pleasure craft is occasionally used commercially (also known as a “crossover vessel”) it must be registered in the Small Vessel Register or, if it is more than 15 gross tonnes, in the Canadian Register of Vessels.

What are the differences between registration and licensing?  Some of the main ones are:

1.   Both the registration and the licensing process obtain and store information about your vessel. The Canadian Register of Vessels contains the names, ownership details, mortgage details and records of all registered vessels for each Port of Registry.  This information can be accessed by the public through Transport Canada’s website.  Licence information is generally not made public but is available to various government agencies and the police so that a vessel may be identified in an emergency, or to assist in search and rescue efforts or alternatively to enforce pleasure craft regulations.

2.   Registration requires a vessel be named. Owners can submit their choices when applying to register.  One registered vessel cannot have the same name as any other registered vessel however same names with different numbers (for example the Sea Lass and Sea Lass II) will be considered as different names.  For licensing, exclusive licence numbers are provided and the vessel must be marked accordingly.

3.   Registration in the Canadian Register of Vessels currently costs $250 for a vessel and is valid for 3 years. Registration in the Small Vessel Register is $50 per vessel and is valid for 5 years.  One registered in either registry, renewal is free.  Licensing on the other hand is free and is valid for 10 years.

If you are interested in licensing your pleasure craft you can use this link for further information

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