Recreational Boat Operator License Requirements Now in Force in Canada

New regulations requiring operators of all power driven recreational boats in Canada to obtain an “Operator Card” (an operator license) were adopted by the government during the week of January 11, 1999.

Operators of power driven boats will have to obtain “Operator Cards” according to the following schedule:

  • September 15, 1999 – All operators born after April 1, 1983.
  • September 15, 2002 – All operators of craft under 4 m (a little over 13 feet) in length, including personal watercraft.
  • September 15, 2009 – All other operators (including people over the age of 55).

These requirements also apply to sailboats equipped with an engine. Generally speaking, most people have up to ten years to acquire a recreational boat “Operator Card” (operator license).

The Canadian Coast Guard has been accrediting boating safety courses which will allow people to obtain the “Operator Card”. For a list of Canadian courses that have been accredited to date, see theCanadian Canadian Coast Guard RegulationsCoast Guard Web Site .

The proposed regulations that were tabled in Parliament last June indicated that people 55 years old and over would be exempt from having to take the boating safety course or pass the test. There is no such exemption in the regulations that are now coming into force.

Foreign boats visiting Canada for less than 45 consecutive days are exempt. American boaters who have an operator card, license or the equivalent, issued by their State will not be restricted to the 45 consecutive day limit before having to obtain an “operator card” in Canada.