BOATING: Licence required for boat operators

Pleasure craft operator competency requirements are now a reality in Canada.

As of 2009 all operators are required to carry proof of competency such as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

The PCOC – also known as  a ‘boater licence’ – is not actually a licence,  but proof of boating competency.

All power boaters regardless of age, engine horsepower or size of boat need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Boaters must be aged eight or older to obtain their card. Young boaters also have to abide by horsepower regulations falling under the boating restriction regulations.

Children between the ages eight and 12 can operate a vessel with up to a 10hp engine unsupervised. Children between the ages of 13-15 can operate a vessel with up to a 40hp engine unsupervised. No one under the age of 16 can operate a personal water craft.

Whoever is operating the vessel will need to have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card or else risk a possible fine.

Canadian boaters caught without the card risk a $250 fine.

Those who have taken a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999 will not be required to take another course or test.

A copy of a certificate or a card issued at the completion of courses taken prior to April 1, 1999 will need to be carried on board the pleasure craft.

In 2011, Transport Canada raised the requirements for getting a Pleasure Craft Operator Card to improve boating safety in Canada.

The number of questions increased to 50 from 36. The test was standardized, with questions set by the government instead of testing agencies.

Also, students using an Internet exam are required to spend at least three hours studying the online course material before writing the exam.

Once a boater receives an operating card, it’s good for life. The card doesn’t expire and boaters do not have to rewrite the boat test.

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