Canadian Boater Competency Cards and U.S. Visitors

November 18, 2009

In September 2009, a 10-year phase-in for boater competency cards ended in Canada, and all Canadian boaters now need their card. Our question was, “What about U.S. visitors to British Columbia?” We contacted Jillian Glover with Transport Canada in Vancouver, who provided the information below.

Let us summarize by saying that U.S. visitors on non-Canadian boats who remain in Canada for less than 45 consecutive days need only meet their home state requirements. For Washington State residents, those born before 1955 do not need at Washington State card.

Here is Jillian Glover’s e-mail to us.

Hi Bob,

It was on September 15, 2009, that it became a requirement that everyone, including non-residents, who are operating a power-driven pleasure craft must carry proof of competency on board. Proof of competency can be:

  • A Canadian-issued pleasure craft operator card.
  • A completed boat rental safety check-list (for power-driven rental boats).
  • An operator card or equivalent that meets the requirements of their state or country.

The regulations do not apply to non-residents who operate their pleasure craft in Canadian waters for less than 45 consecutive days. Please note that a proof of residence will be required on board at all times.

Here are the regulations that apply to non-residents:

  • If they operate their pleasure craft in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive days or,
  • If they operate a pleasure craft that is licensed or registered in Canada (including rented or chartered boats).

When it comes to boating, we're looking to improve Canada's already enviable safety record. One death is too many. That's why we phased in a program to ensure boaters have at least some knowledge of boating safety before heading out onto the water. The PCOC card is proof that you have passed a boating safety test with a passing grade of 75%, and that you understand the rules and regulations of Canadian waterways. For those Americans interested in obtaining Canadian Pleasure Craft credentials, they can visit for a list of the 65 accredited course providers.

Hope that helps!

Jillian Glover
Regional Communications Advisor
Tel: (604) 666-9307
Communications and Marketing, Transport Canada, Pacific Region
| Communications et Marketing, Transports Canada, Région du Pacifique
Suite 1100 - 800 Burrard St. (TE), Vancouver, BC V6Z 2J8

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