PCOC - COMMON QUESTIONS & ANSWERS PREPARED BY TRANSPORT CANADA
When do I need to get a card?
Will boaters who have previously taken a boating safety course be required to take another course or test?
Do I need proof of competency to operate a non-powered pleasure craft?
Do I need proof of competency to operate a sailboat?
Do I need proof of competency if I operate a small boat in conjunction with my work?
Do the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to aboriginals?
What is acceptable proof of competency for non-residents?
Do the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to non-residents?
If my child is 11 years old and drives a boat of less than 10 HP (with my direct supervision) do they still need proof of competency?
What is proof of operator competency"?
Do I need to take a course before I write the test?
Why take a boating safety course?
What is covered in a course?
What are my options?
How do I replace my lost Pleasure Craft Operator Card?
What should I do if I received training prior to April 1, 1999 and my certificate does not show a completion date?
Can I exchange my certificate for a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?
Can I obtain a PCOC if I hold a Marine Safety Certificate?
Does Transport Canada or the Canadian Coast Guard teach boating safety courses or offer testing?
Are course or test fees collected for the federal government?
Do I need a licence to operate my boat?
Isn't an operator card just another word for a licence?
If I don't pass the test, can I try again?
The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations require operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes to have proof of competency on board at all times. These requirements are being phased in over ten years (see table).
Date at which proof of competency is required *
How this applies to operators** of pleasure craft fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes:
- All operators born after April 1, 1983, proof of competency required on board by September 15, 1999.
- All operators of craft under 4 m in length, including personal watercraft, proof of competency required on board by September 15, 2002.
- All operators, proof of competency required on board by September 15, 2009.
* These requirements apply in areas outside the Northwest and Nunavut Territories at this time.
** Applies to non-residents operating their pleasure craft in Canadian waters after 44 consecutive days. Operator card or equivalent issued to a non-resident by their state or country will be considered as proof of competency.
If you hold any certificate on the List of Certificates of Competency, Training Certificates and other Equivalencies as Proof of Competency when Operating a Pleasure Craft, you already meet the requirements of the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations – you just need to make sure you carry your certificate on board. Proof of certification may include original documentation or a copy of the certificate.
Tip: Certificates for boating safety courses completed before April 1, 1999 will be recognized. If you've already taken a course prior to these regulations - and have proof - then that course certificate or card will be accepted as proof of competency!
Proof of competency can take 1 of 3 forms:
- proof of having successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999
- a pleasure craft operator card issued following the successful completion of a Transport Canada accredited test;
- a completed rental-boat safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats).
The operator card is good-for-life.
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.
No. The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations only apply to pleasure craft fitted with a motor.
You need proof of competency if the sailboat is fitted with an auxiliary motor, even when under sail.
The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations only apply to operators of pleasure craft (boats used for recreational purposes). Confusion between pleasure craft operation and non-pleasure craft operation is common. Non-pleasure craft are commonly referred to as small commercial vessels
While the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations apply to aboriginals, the Regulations do not apply in situations where the craft is used for daily living or subsistence activities (such as hunting and fishing for the purpose of subsistence). However, most aboriginals that use a boat for subsistence activities also use it for recreational purposes on occasion. As such, it is recommended everyone have proof of competency. To remove ambiguity, the Regulations state that application is limited to pleasure craft used for recreational purposes.
For non-residents, proof of competency can take one of three forms:
- A Pleasure Craft Operator Card;
- A completed boat rental safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats); or,
- An operator card or equivalent which meets the requirements of their state or country.
The Regulations apply to non-residents if:
- They operate their pleasure craft in Canadian waters for more than 44 consecutive days or,
- 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 (licensed in a country other than Canada) in Canadian waters for less than 45 consecutive days. Please note that a proof of residence will be required on board at all times.
If you require more information on how Canadian requirements apply to non-residents visit the Requirements for Foreign Recreational Boaters In Canadian Waters.
Yes. The age-horsepower restrictions were developed under the Boating Restriction Regulations and aren't affected, or superseded, by the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations . The two are entirely separate regulations and their respective requirements should be looked at separately to avoid confusion. Remember, anyone born after April 01, 1983 is required to carry proof of competency now.
Proof of operator competency can take one of three forms:
- A Pleasure Craft Operator Card;
- Proof of having successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999; or,
- A completed rental-boat safety checklist.
A Pleasure Craft Operator Card is issued following the successful completion of an accredited test. This proof of competency is the most common.
If you have taken a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999, the certificate you obtained is a valid proof of operator competency. However, the certificate must clearly show that the course you took was taken in Canada and prior to April 1, 1999.
If you are renting a pleasure craft fitted with a motor you must complete a rental boat safety checklist. This will be considered your proof of competency and is valid for the duration of the rental period. The rental company will review the checklist with you.
Taking a boating safety course is strongly recommended regardless of age or experience. However, you can challenge the test without taking a course.
- To improve the safety of all boaters and the boating environment.
- To get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card as required by the regulation.
- To learn about your responsibility.
- To make your boating experience enjoyable for everyone.
The course covers a full range of basic boating information such as:
- minimum safety equipment requirements required on board your boat;
- the Canadian Buoy system;
- how to share waterways;
- a review of all pertinent regulations;
- and how to respond in an emergency situation.
Take the course in class, by correspondence; or, purchase a training manual from an accredited training organization, study on your own and then take the test.
While Transport Canada administers the regulations - all cards are issued by private sector organizations referred to as “Course Providers”. Here are a few tips to getting a card replacement:
- First, contact the accredited course provider that originally issued the card. A complete list of Course Providers is available on this website.
- Second, if you can't remember the name of the course provider that originally issued your card there are a few things to do to help to remember:
- Did you take the test with a family member or friend? If so, check with them as the name of the course provider will be on their card.
- Did you keep a copy of your receipt or the letter that came in the mail with your card attached to it? The course provider’s name is included on both of these documents – and…
- Most importantly, Transport Canada recommends that all boaters make a copy of their card upon receiving it. This will eliminate doing any research in order to get a replacement card. It’s the simplest and most effective way to get your card replaced!
If the course provider that issued the certificate is still in existence, you can contact them to issue you a certificate showing the appropriate completion date. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
No. The Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations clearly state that a Pleasure Craft Operator Card is a document issued to a person by the administrator of an accredited test (see exception below), to a person that has passed the test. Therefore, a card cannot be issued unless an accredited test has been passed.
Any person who holds a certificate or equivalency on the List of Certificates of Competency, Training Certificates and other Equivalencies is competent to operate a pleasure craft under the Competency of Pleasure Craft Regulations. A person holding such a certificate or equivalency simply needs to carry their certificate or equivalency (or a copy of it) on board their pleasure craft, accompanied by a proof of identification.
Transport Canada is currently working on a process whereby a person holding certificates or equivalencies from that list can obtain a PCOC from Transport Canada.
Once the new card system is in place, a person will have the option to continue to carry a copy of their certificate on board or obtain a PCOC from one of the Marine Safety Transport Canada Centers.
No. Private companies administer all courses and tests and issue all cards.
Because private companies administer all courses and tests and issue all cards no money is collected for the federal government.
Sometimes proof of competency is also referred to as a licence to operate a vessel. The two are not the same. In most instances what people actually want to know about is the requirement to carry proof of competency, as required under the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations
All operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor are now required to have proof of competency on board.
No, unlike a driver's licence, the operator card cannot be revoked and is good for life.
The test can be written as often as required, although it is strongly recommended that a course be taken if you are unsuccessful the first time. The test can be written only once in every 24-hour period.
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