Below is the information you need to know about boating laws and regulations in Manitoba.

Q: Do I need a boat licence?

Recreational boating is one of Canada’s most popular pastimes, with millions enjoying our waterways each year. However, accidents happen – most of which are preventable! Failure to wear life-jackets and falling overboard results in over 200 fatalities each year, with thousands more non-fatal incidents. You can’t drive a car without a licence, so why should you be allowed to drive a boat? The Pleasure Craft Operator Card regulations came into effect in 2009 to ensure safety on the water, and allow boaters to adequately prepare themselves before heading out.

What’s the difference between licensing a boat and getting my boating license?

A Pleasure Craft or Vessel License is the document you get when licensing your boat, with a unique ID number that must be displayed on your boat for identification purposes. A boating license on the other hand, which is officially called a ‘Pleasure Craft Operator Card’ or ‘PCOC’ is your boating version of a driver’s license; proof that you are competent and certified to drive a motorized boat in Canada. So basically, your boat needs to get licensed – and so do you!

Q: How long does it take to get my boat licence? 

Transport Canada accredited courses take a minimum of 3 hours to complete. You can take the test online, and once you complete and pass your final exam, you can get out on the water immediately! We will issue you a with a temporary licence, and send your Personal Craft Operator Card out to you within 2-4 weeks.

Q: What score do I need to pass?

You must achieve a minimum of 80% to pass. But don’t worry, if you don’t pass the first time you can re-take the exam free of charge until you complete the test.

Q: Do I need to take the course all in one go?

You can take as long – or as little – time as you like to complete your boating licence course. The course is designed to take a minimum of three hours, however you can do it at your own pace and complete modules over time if you prefer.

Q: At what age can I get my boat licence?

If you are going to drive a powerboat, you need a licence – regardless of age. Click here to learn more about the age restrictions for various types of vehicles on the water.

Q: Do I need a licence to drive a jet-ski?

As of September 15, 2009 all boaters of motorized / powered watercrafts are required to have the Pleasure Craft Operator Card on board at all times. This includes jet-skis, and applies to all ages. If you are driving a rented power boat, this may not apply but many rental agencies and operators will require it.

Q: Where Is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) valid?

Your PCOC, commonly known as boating license, is valid in each province; Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia (BC), Prince Edward Island (PEI), Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador (NFLD).

Q: What is the fine for operating without your card?

Not having the required Pleasure Craft Operator Card or proof of competency on board will result in a fine of $250, excluding administrative charges. Some other common boating offences and associated fines include:

  • Not having enough approved life-jackets on board = $200
  • Careless operation = $200
  • Speeding = $100
  • Allowing someone under age to operate a boat = $250
  • Operating a boat if you are under age = $100
  • Operating a boat without a working muffle in good condition = $100
  • Towing someone without a spotter = $100

* Source Transport Canada. Learn more about boating related fines and penalties here. 

Q: Who enforces these laws?

The law will be enforced by peace officers on all Canadian waterways. The law requires that the operator of a powered watercraft carry his Pleasure Craft Operator Card, as well as proof of age, with him at all times – no excuses.

Q: Is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card Valid for work purposes?

The certification requirements for operators and crew on workboats depends on what the vessel is being used for (e.g. commercial fishing, water taxi, harbour tour), where it is being operated, and how many passengers are on board. To find out the certification and crewing requirements for your work situation, check with authorities at any Transport Canada Marine Safety Examination Centre.

Q: What if I want to drive a boat, but don’t live in Canada

  1. Non-residents need to obtain a Boat Licence/Pleasure Craft Operator Card if they are operating their powered boat in Canadian waters for more than 45 consecutive days or if the boat they are operating is registered or licensed in Canada (this includes rented boats).

Sign up for your boating licence and get out on the water today! If you have a question that is not on our list, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


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