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Canadian boat operators now need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 25, 2009 03:11 PM

Published: 2009-09-25 15:11:37
Countries: Canada

By & 9:08 PM Mon 14 Sep 2009

After a 10 year federal law phase in period, all Canadian boaters now need to have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card, commonly referred to as a boating license, or they risk expensive fines.

Effective since Tuesday September 15th 2009 anyone operating a powered watercraft recreationally in the country must have the Card.

Experts believe less than half of Canada's 10 million recreational boaters have obtained the operator card, as of last week.

Boaters can print a temporary card as soon as they pass online and their permanent card is mailed to their home in a few weeks, and the card is good-for-life, it never needs to be renewed.

This law applies to all ages, many people think that kids need to be 16yrs to get certified and that if you are 65 yrs and up you are grandfathered, this is false, there is no minimum age to get certified, and no age exemption. Others think that you don't need the card if your motor is under 10 horsepower, but in fact it's needed to operate any size motors, even an electric motor on a canoe for example.

Under new rules from Transport Canada that came into effect last Tuesday, those who are caught driving a motorized watercraft without the Pleasure Craft Operating Card (PCOC) risk being fined $250 or more. Municipal and provincial police will enforce the new rules.

To obtain the PCOC bBoaters must pass a test on topics such as how to share waterways, use safety equipment and respond to emergencies in order to get the card. They will then be required to carry it on board their watercraft at all times.

Private companies are conducting training courses, administering the testing and issuing the cards.

Transport Canada has posted a list of accredited companies on its website.

The test includes 36 multiple-choice questions. Boaters have to answer 75 per cent of the questions correctly to obtain the card, which is good for life.

In addition, there is a grandfather clause for certain courses from organizations such as "Canadian Yachting Association". Below is from the CYA website

Proof of Competency

If you have completed a CYA course prior to April 1, 1999 and have documentation, it may be used as proof of competency. These are the CYA courses that are acceptable:

Basic (or Intermediate, or Advanced) Coastal Cruising
Basic (or Intermediate) Power Boating
Basic Outboarding

A copy of your certificate or the card issued at the completion of courses taken prior to April 1, 1999 will need to be carried on board the pleasure craft.

Our thanks to Jeff Knowlton for this information.