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Is a Boating Licence Required to Drive a Boat in Ontario?

Boater’s License

Summer is nearing, and one of the best things you can do during this time is boating. It’s a great way to get outdoors and experience nature. Whether on a lake, riverway, or beach, there are dozens of fantastic boating opportunities in Ontario. However, since owning a boat is a considerable commitment, renting one can be more manageable.

You might be thinking, do you need a licence to drive a boat in Ontario? Although legal boat driving in Ontario plays a big part, boating safety and education are equally important.

Do You Need a Boat Licence in Ontario?

Are you worried about handling the paperwork and having the correct licence? Don’t worry; you do not need a special permit to drive a boat in Ontario. However, a pleasure craft operating card (PCOC) would come in handy. This card is available from Transport Canada, and it’s perfect to have if you’re planning on boating on Ontario lakes.

Although it’s highly suggested to have a PCOC, you don’t need to get them to rent a boat. There are specific requirements for people without competency who want to rent a boat, such as:

  • A government-issued ID, such as a driver’s licence.
  • A credit card or a deposit equals 10% of the rental amount.
  • A Rental Boat Safety Checklist (you can fill this out in advance).

By signing the Rental Boat Safety Checklist, you agree to do your best to maintain the vessel’s safety. They’ll inform you of the manufacturer’s specifications and the operator’s reference manual. Finally, they’ll advise you to wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device for safety.

Is There an Age Limit for Boating in Ontario?

There are some specific age restrictions when it comes to boating in Ontario. Even if you have a PCOC, here are the ages that you need to be to rent a boat and operate it:

  • No one under the age of 12 must operate a boat with more than a 10-horsepower engine.
  • Adolescents aged 12–16 can legally use the ship without supervision, as long as the horsepower engine is no more than 40. 
  • Even if you have a driver’s licence and a PCOC card, you must still be at least 18 years old to run a boat in Ontario.

Would You Be Penalized If You Drive a Boat Without a Licence?

Yes. There would be a minimum penalty of $250 if you operated a boat without a licence in Ontario. However, the Provincial Offences Act limits how much the court can fine you. The court can only fine you more if you’ve been charged with a second offence within two years.

Can One Be Exempted From Getting a Boating Licence in Ontario?

There are no exceptions when it comes to boating licences in Ontario. All boaters must take a safety course to operate a motorized boat regardless of age.

Final Thoughts

A boat-driving licence in Ontario does wonders for those who want to rent a boat. However, you can still operate a vessel without a permit if you’re with a licensed boat operator at least 18 years old.

If you’re considering renting a boat or already have one, ensure you’re aware of the basic rules and regulations that apply to your boat. Be sure to have fun this summer on a boat, whether you have a licence or not!

Sprint Driving School is where you can apply for your boat-driving licence in Ontario. Our experienced driving instructors can educate you on boat safety and handling. Contact us to find out more!