Boating Laws

How to Get a Canada Boaters License (and Why You Need One)

A woman holding a boating license, Canada boaters license concept.

Getting on the water this season could be as easy as launching your boat – if you already have your Canada boaters license! 

In Canada, operating a watercraft with an engine of 10hp (7.5kw) or higher requires a boating license. To get this license, you must show competency, including a basic understanding of boating safety. The goal of education is to reduce accidents and injuries on the water and keep you and other boaters protected. 

The Canada boaters license is what you may know as the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), and everyone who operates a boat needs one. Passing a Canada-approved safety education course is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get your PCOC, and it gives you plenty of good information to take with you out onto the waterways.

Here's what else boaters need to know to get back on the water this season!

Kids sitting on the dock wearing lifejackets ready to go boating, Canada boaters license concept.

Understand the Boating Basics

First, it's important to understand that there are no options to be "grandfathered in" or drive a boat without a license due to age or other characteristics. 

When getting your boating license, there are some essential things you can expect to learn. Courses that the government approves to get your PCOC have specific areas they have to cover. That helps ensure you understand the most vital aspects of boating before you leave the dock.

While there's a lot to learn about operating a boat, you'll get more comfortable with practice. You need to be sure you can handle the basics before you get behind the wheel and head out into open water. 

You don't want to put yourself and other boaters at risk by not understanding how to navigate safely or not knowing what to do if something goes wrong.

So, what will you learn during a course that prepares you for your boating license? You can expect to get great information in areas such as:

  • Navigation Rules
  • What Buoys and Markers Mean
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Safe Operating Procedures

You'll gain knowledge in all those areas by taking a course to get your PCOC. It's not always easy to know what to expect on the water, as weather conditions can change suddenly, taking you from a calm, sunny day to wind and unexpected waves. So, a boating education course helps prepare you for any situation on the water. 

You or a passenger could also have a medical emergency, the boat could break down or refuse to start, or you may decide to take a different route from the one you had planned. No matter what occurs, you'll be better prepared for it when you've been through a boating safety and information course. 

Being prepared adds to your confidence, which makes spending time on the area's waterways more fun.

People on a boat on the water, why you need a Canada boaters license concept.

Boating Education Helps Increase Environmental Awareness

There's much more to getting a boating license than understanding how to navigate the water and handle unexpected situations. As a boater, you can also play a role in protecting the aquatic ecosystems in your local area. 

When you properly dispose of waste and avoid areas with sensitive wildlife, you do your part to improve environmental conservation. These efforts help keep aquatic animals safe and healthy and give them suitable environments they can enjoy and feel secure in. 

Additionally, healthy ecosystems mean better places to swim, fish, and experience the beauty of the local waterways, so they're important for various reasons.

Enjoy Benefits Beyond Compliance

Along with being legally compliant and environmentally aware there are other benefits to getting a Canada boaters license. Adding to the benefits increases your reasons to take a course and ensures you have the proper licensing before taking your boat out on its next adventure. These important benefits include:

  • Increased confidence on the water
  • Access to more boating opportunities
  • The ability to rent or charter watercraft
  • More fun and fewer injuries

Remember that you should also license or register your boat so you can adequately insure and protect your vessel under Canadian law. It's not a difficult or complicated process to ensure you and your boat are correctly licensed, but it increases your levels of protection and peace of mind.

Choose Online Courses and Exams

Getting your boating license is easy and convenient. There are online boating courses you can complete from the comfort of your own home during times that work around your schedule. You can even take your exam that way, too.

All BOATERexam courses and the exam are online, so you can complete them and not worry about having to go in person to complete all your requirements. Having boating questions is normal, and an online course is a great way to get the answers you're looking for.

A man driving a boat, get a Canada boaters license concept.

Take the Right Course to Get Your Canada Boaters License

With help from BOATERexam, you can get your boating license at home, online, on your own time. Then, you can feel confident that you know all the basics of boating to help protect yourself and others, be prepared for an emergency, and enjoy your time on the water more fully, ensuring a great boating season.

If you're excited to get on the water this season, now is the time to get your safety certification! Choose the Canada-approved course and start learning.