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The Proof of Competency Requirement
 for Boaters


In 1999, the government of Canada introduced a proof of
competency requirement for operators of recreational watercraft. While the law
was fully phased in on September 15, 2009, recent RCMP boating checks show many
boaters still have questions about whether they need to carry proof of
competency. Here are some answers.


Q: Who needs proof of

A: As of September 15, 2009 anyone who operates a powered
recreational watercraft (any boat with a motor) must carry proof of competency
on board. There are no exceptions! Even if you are over 65, fishing on a
private lake, and your boat only has an electric trolling motor, the law
requires you to carry proof of competency.


Q: What is proof of

A: There are three forms of proof of competency:

Proof of having successfully completed a boating
safety course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999;

A Pleasure Craft Operator Card issued following
the successful completion of an accredited test; 

A completed rental-boat safety checklist (for
power-driven rental boats, valid for the rental period).

(From Transport Canada)


So, for the vast majority of boaters, the Pleasure Craft
Operator Card (PCOC) is the required proof of competency and it is now, by far,
the most common form of proof of competency.


Q: Is the Pleasure
Craft Operator Card the same as a boating license?

A: The PCOC is sometimes referred to incorrectly as a
boating license, however, it should not be confused with the Pleasure Craft
License, which is the unique number given to recreational watercraft in Canada.


A Pleasure Craft Operator Card applies to the operator while
a Pleasure Craft License applies to the boat. These are different regulations
and there are different ways of obtaining each requirement.


Q: How do you get a
Pleasure Craft Operator Card?

A: You can get your PCOC by taking a Transport
Canada-accredited boating safety course. You can take this course online with, which is the largest issuer of PCOCs in Canada. The online
course takes three hours. The PCOC is good for life. You do not need to renew
this certification.

Q: What is the
penalty for not carrying proof of competency

A: You can receive a fine of $250.00 if you are stopped
without proof of competency on board. Because you are required to have a PCOC
on board, some boaters will order an extra PCOC when they pass the course and
keep one PCOC in the boat and one in their wallet.


Q: Why was this law

A: “These
requirements were introduced in 1999 in response to boating deaths and
injuries, with the goal of improving safety on Canadian waterways through
education and training.” (From Transport Canada)


This FAQ was written
by is providing NSFAH members with a discount of
$10 on their online boating safety course and also donates $5 to the NSFAH for
every member who takes the course. When you get the PCOC, you help support
the NSFAH and make sure you are legal when boating