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Home / Travel Resources / Regulations / Boating Regulations

Boating Regulations

Agencies

Transport Canada runs an office of Boater Safety that delivers prevention-based programs to reduce the safety risks and environmental impacts of boating on Canadian waters. For information on prevention programs and boating requirements visit The Office of Boating Safety web site.

Transport Canada sets and enforces regulations for all boaters. For information, contact the Transport Canada Office of Boating Safety at 1-800-267-6687 or visit the web site.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for border access, services and security. The Canada Border Services Agency web site details many answers to questions frequently asked by travellers.

Entering Canada by Boat (Customs)

When you arrive in Canada, the operator of your vessel has to report to a customs officer by telephone through a vessel-reporting station. The officer will need details of the voyage, cargo, and passengers. Some stations have customs officers on duty during the boating season, while other stations use a telephone reporting system. You are not required to report to customs when you leave unless you reported articles on Form E29B, Temporary Admission Permit, when you arrived, or you are exporting goods that need to be documented (e.g., under export permits).

For more information on the procedures to follow when entering Canada from the United States using a private boat, click here.

Canadian Boat Operator Competency Requirements

The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations require that all operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor have proof of competency and proof of age on board at all times.

The Regulations are being phased in as follows:

  • All operators born after April 1, 1983 are required to have proof of competency since 1999.
  • As of September 15, 2002, all operators of craft of less than 4 m (including personal watercraft) will be required to have proof of competency.
  • As of September 15, 2009, all operators will be required to have proof of competency.
How the Boat Operator Regulations Apply to Non-Residents

The Regulations 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).
  • 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.
Boat Operation Age - Horsepower Restrictions

The Age - Horsepower Restrictions prohibit operators under the age of 16 from operating recreational vessels above specified horsepower limits:

  • Children under the age of 12 and not directly supervised by someone 16 years of age or older can operate a recreational vessel with no more than 10 hp (7.5 KW).
  • Youth between 12 years of age and under 16 years of age and not directly supervised by someone 16 years of age or older can operate a recreational vessel with no more than 40 hp (30 KW).
  • Only persons 16 years of age or older can operate a personal watercraft (PWC) regardless of supervision.

The age restrictions apply to all operators of pleasure craft in Canadian waters both domestic and foreign.

Driving a Boat Under the Influence of Alcohol

Boating while impaired is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Operators with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood are liable to the following fines :

  • 1st offence: at least $600 fine
  • 2nd offence: at least 14 days of imprisonment
  • 3rd offence: at least 90 days of imprisonment

The maximum sentence may vary depending on provincial statutes.

Consumption of Alcohol on Boats

Alcohol may be consumed on board the pleasure craft if it meets all of the following conditions:

  • The vessel has permanent sleeping facilities
  • The vessel has permanent cooking facilities
  • The vessel has a permanent toilet
  • The vessel is anchored or secured alongside a dock

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