Keep your family safe and have fun by making sure you know about boating laws before you head out on the water!

If you operate any motorized vessel, including a powered watercraft such as a boat or Seadoo, you must carry proof of competency such as a boating safety course taken in Canada before April 1, 1999 or a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).  The Pleasure Craft Operator Card may also make you eligible for a reduction in marine insurance.  Check with your insurance company to see if this applies to you. 

The Pleasure Craft Operator Card is good for life, and is recognized across Canada.  If you plan on boating this summer, go to Canada’s Office of Boating Safety for information on how to get this Card, and be sure to read their 'Safe Boating Guide' - go to to view it.

If you have friends or family visiting, federal regulations have exceptions for non-residents of Canada.  Non-residents do not need proof of competency if their pleasure craft is in Canada for less than 45 days, or if they have a boat safety knowledge certificate from their home state or country.  They must carry proof of residency. Click here for more information for visitors to Canada.

If you are just renting a motorized boat you must either have proof of competency, or complete a rental boat safety checklist, which would only apply while you are renting the boat.

If you are under the age of 16 there are special restrictions:

  • You are not allowed to operate any personal watercraft (such as a Sea-Doo or Jet Ski) even if you are supervised
  • Children under 12 years of age may only operate a motor-propelled pleasure craft with no more than 7.5 kW (10 hp), unless they are supervised in the boat by a person 16 years of age or older.
  • Youth between 12 and 15 years of age may only operate a motor-propelled pleasure craft with no more than 40hp (30kW), unless they are supervised in the boat by a person 16 years of age or older. 
  • Both the individual operating the boat and the adult supervising must have a PCOC, even if the operator is a child.

Finally, remember the basic rules of the water.  You must have a properly fitting Canadian-approved lifejacket or personal flotation device on board for each person on the boat (go to for information about lifejackets).   For more detailed information about required safety equipment on board a pleasure craft, according to type and length, please contact Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety at 1-800-387-4999, or go to

You can go to Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety to learn more, but here are the fines for common boating offences:

  • Operating a vessel in a careless manner - $350
  • Speeding - $200 
  • Underage (under 16) operation of a personal watercraft (eg. Jet Ski, Sea-Doo) - $100
  • Operating a power-driven pleasure craft without a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or other proof of competency - $250 
  • Not having enough lifejackets or personal flotation devices for everyone on board- $200, plus $100 for each missing device.

It is a criminal offence to operate a vessel while impaired by drugs or alcohol, and if convicted you face a minimum fine of $1000, prohibition from operating a boat, or even jail.

Enforcement officers, including RCMP, municipal police and Department of Natural Resources officers, are allowed to board your pleasure craft to make sure you are following boating safety rules.

Long weekends and summer vacations are the perfect time for getting out on the water.  Just remember the rules and good times are guaranteed!

For more information about safe boating, visit the Canadian Safe Boating Council website at

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