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Do you need a boat license in Ontario to rent a boat?

Going out on the water is one of the wonderful pleasures of living in Ontario. And renting a boat is one of the most convenient ways to enjoy this beautiful province’s stunning waterways. However, it is understandable that renters may be concerned about the rules and regulations when it comes to operating a boat in Ontario. One of the most frequently asked questions among renters is whether they need a boating license to rent a boat in Ontario. Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about renting a boat in Ontario, including whether you need a boating license.

Boating Laws and Regulations in Ontario

According to boating laws and regulations in Ontario, boaters are required to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, more commonly known as a boating license, to operate a boat with a motor. This applies to residents and non-residents alike. The card must be carried on board when operating a motorized watercraft.

However, there is an exception for those who wish to rent a boat. The Canadian Coast Guard allows boaters to legally rent a boat in Ontario without holding a boating license if they complete and co-sign a Rental Boat Safety Checklist with the rental boat company. This exception ensures that renters have basic knowledge of boating safety rules and regulations in Ontario.

The Rental Boat Safety Checklist

Completing the Rental Boat Safety Checklist takes between 15 to 30 minutes and is a straightforward process. The checklist is divided into two parts: The first part consists of a general safety briefing for the renter, in which they are provided with an overview of the rules and regulations and are familiarized with the operation and handling of the vessel.

The second part of the checklist consists of a pre-departure inspection of the boat. This includes an inspection of the safety equipment onboard, such as life jackets, and other safety gear, as well as the boat’s navigational, emergency and electrical systems.

Who is Eligible for the Rental Boat Safety Checklist?

The Rental Boat Safety Checklist is available to everyone who is 16 years or older, and wishes to rent a boat in Ontario. Whether you are a resident or a non-resident, you can complete the checklist and legally rent a boat without a boating license.

However, it is worth noting that while you may be able to rent a boat without a boating license, the rental boat company may impose additional restrictions or limitations. For example, they may require renters to stick to certain routes or limit the type of boats that renters are allowed to use.


Renting a boat in Ontario is a fantastic way to spend time on the water and enjoy what this great province has to offer. And, while having a boating license is required for operating a motorized watercraft in Ontario, the Rental Boat Safety Checklist provides an exception that allows people to safely rent boats without the prerequisite of a boating license.

No matter where you choose to rent, always ensure you follow the rules and regulations laid out by the rental boat company, and that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the watercraft you’ll be using before heading out on the water. By doing so, you will ensure that you have a fun-filled and safe boating experience.


Who needs an Ontario boating license?

In Ontario, it is a legal requirement for all operators of motorized boats to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), commonly known as a boating license. This includes individuals of all ages, boat lengths, and engine sizes, even if it is just an electric trolling motor.

The PCOC is proof of competency in both the rules and regulations of boating and the practical skills necessary for safe boating. Boaters who have successfully completed a boating safety course or exam from an accredited organization are eligible to acquire their card.

There are no exceptions to this requirement in Ontario, including visitors from other provinces or countries. Non-compliance with boating laws in Ontario can lead to hefty fines and impounding of boats.

It is important to note that the PCOC is not a substitute or equivalent to a driver’s license, and does not provide any authorization to operate a vehicle on a public road.

Any person who plans to operate a motorized boat in Ontario, regardless of age, boat length, or engine size, must carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, which verifies that the operator has completed and passed a competency exam or boating safety course.

How old do you have to be to rent a boat in Canada?

To rent a boat in Canada, the person who plans to operate the vessel needs to be at least 18 years old and have a valid boat license. This means that even if the rental company issues temporary licenses, the person renting the boat must present a valid license that proves they are over 18 and authorized to drive a boat. Additionally, some rental companies may require that renters have a G2 driver’s license, which is a graduate license that allows them to drive a car under certain restricted conditions. While the requirements to rent a boat may vary by company, it is always important to check with the rental agency before making a reservation to ensure that you meet all of their age and licensing requirements. Furthermore, it is essential to remember that operating a boat can be dangerous, and inexperienced operators can pose a significant risk to themselves and others who may be sharing the water. It is recommended that renters take a boating safety course to ensure that they are prepared to operate a vessel safely and responsibly. By following all safety guidelines and adhering to age and licensing requirements, renters can enjoy a safe and enjoyable boating experience in Canada.

How much does it cost to get a boat license in Ontario?

In order to legally operate a pleasure craft in Ontario, you need to obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). The cost of getting a boat license in Ontario varies depending on where you choose to take the test and what options you choose for studying and testing.

If you choose to take a classroom-based boating safety course, the cost can vary anywhere from $75 to $200, depending on the operator offering the course. These courses typically last around 6 hours and are offered at marinas, community centers, and other locations.

If you choose to take an online boating safety course, the cost is typically cheaper than a classroom-based course. The cost of an online boating safety course in Ontario can range from $39.95 to $49.95 for a standard package. This includes access to the course materials, as well as the ability to take the online examination for the PCOC. It is important to note that some online courses offer additional features for an extra cost, such as more in-depth materials or practice tests.

Once you have completed a boating safety course, you will need to pass the PCOC examination to receive your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The cost for the examination is $54.95 CAD. The exam is administered by Transport Canada and can be taken online or in-person. The online examination is self-paced and can take up to 3 hours to complete. If you don’t pass the test on the first try, don’t worry. After a waiting period of 24 hours, you’ll have one more attempt to pass the test.

The cost of obtaining a boat license in Ontario varies depending on the method of instruction and examination you choose. However, it is important to remember that obtaining the Pleasure Craft Operator Card is necessary to legally operate a pleasure craft in Ontario, and the cost is a small price to pay for the safety and enjoyment of yourself and others on your boat.