WINTER: Snowbird locations and overnight RVing. TRAVEL ALERTS: Know Before You Go

Yacht Downtown Vancouver Looking Towards Stanley Park - Photo Don

Boating Regulations

The following is a list of Boating Regulations for operations of Pleasure Craft in Canada. We suggest you use this as a reference when taking part in any recreational boating during your stay. For further information please visit The Office of Boating Safety website.


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 website.

Transport Canada sets and enforces regulations for all boaters. For information, contact the Transport Canada Office of Boating Safety Pacific Region Telephone: (604) 666-2681 or Email: [email protected] 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 boaters.

Entering Canada by Boat (Customs)

When you arrive in Canada, the master of a recreational boat (the person in charge) is required to go to a designated telephone reporting marine site and call the telephone reporting centre at 1-888-226-7277. No one except the master may leave the boat until the Canada Border Services Agency gives authorisation.

Note: To find designated telephone reporting marine sites in your area, call 1-888-226-7277.

The officer will need details of the voyage, cargo, and passengers including passports if applicable.

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. Proof of competency indicates the boater has a basic level of boating safety knowledge required for safe recreational boating. Click here for more information.

How the Boat Operator Regulations Apply to Non-Residents

If a non-resident operates 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) then Boat Operator Regulations apply.

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. For non-residents, proof of competency can take one of three forms:

  • 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.

For more information click here.

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 $1,000 fine
  • 2nd offence: at least 30 days of imprisonment
  • 3rd offence: at least 120 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

For more information visit requirements for Foreign Recreational Boaters In Canadian Waters

Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989