get Your British Columbia Boating License
British Columbia’s Official Boating Course, Test and License. Animated, narrated & perfect for all ages.
Get your Official Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC) today. Animated, narrated & perfect for all ages.
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BOATsmart! is the easiest and fastest way to get your British Columbia Boating License. We include everything you need.
1. Take the course
Study up with the Official Boating Safety Course. Animated and narrated lessons put you in the captain’s seat. Anywhere, on any device and perfect for all ages.
2. Ace the test
It’s easy. Our Transport Canada multiple-choice test is open book with unlimited free retries. Basically, you’re guaranteed to pass and it’s good for life!
3. You’re the captain now
Print your temporary British Columbia Boating License immediately and we’ll see you on the water. Your permanent card will arrive by mail – but that’s not important, you’ll be out on the boat!
Who needs it?
Listen up! In British Columbia, all operators of motorized boats are required to obtain and carry a Pleasure Craft Operators Card regardless of age, length of boat or engine horsepower. There’s a $250 fine for boating without it.
Boaters & growing
Made for boaters, by boaters. The BOATsmart! Course is the fastest, easiest way to get your Official Canadian Boating License. Study at your own pace and we'll automatically track your progress. We include 24/7 access, live customer support and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Plus, exclusive partner discounts.
Official BOATsmart! Course
Canadian Boating Knowledge Base
Boating in British Columbia
Trusted and recognized from coast to coast
British Columbia is peppered with lakes, rivers, and a coastline that’ll keep boaters exploring for years. Check out Tofino for some amazing shoreline scenery, sunsets and world famous surfing competitions, or start at Fraser River and work your way up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound for weeks of endless beauty!
How to get a boat license in British Columbia
A Pleasure Craft License or ‘boat license’ is a document and a set of I.D. numbers. The document must be on board your boat at all times and the numbers must be displayed on the bow of your boat at all times.
Do I need a Pleasure Craft License?
All motorized boats and PWCs in British Columbia powered by 10 horsepower or more are required to have a Pleasure Craft License. The number must be displayed on both sides of the bow, above the waterline, as far forward as possible, in block letters at least 7.5cm high that contrast with the colour of the boat.
You can obtain a 10 year license for free from Service Canada. You must renew the license after the 10 year period has expired.
How to get a pleasure craft license
You can obtain a 10 year license for free one of the following two ways:
Option 1: Apply for a free Pleasure Craft License online.
Option 2: Download a paper application form and mail the completed form to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre at the following address:
Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre
P.O. Box 2006
Fredericton, New Brunswick
British Columbia Boating Laws & Fines
BC’s laws for boating & alcohol
The fines and penalties for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol in BC are the same as those for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.
A boat operator’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level cannot exceed 80 mg. This is the legal alcohol limit in BC.
There is NO difference between drunk driving & drunk boating.
Boat passengers may consume alcohol on board a boat in BC so long as the boat is licensed for alcohol consumption, or the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or docked.
Contact the RCMP of British Columbia for more information about the laws for boating with alcohol in British Columbia.
BC’s Age & Horsepower Restrictions
12 years of age & under
Can operate a boat without supervision so long as the engine is not more than 10 horsepower and they have proof of competency. They are not allowed to operate a PWC under any conditions.
12-16 years of age
Can operate a boat without supervision as long as the engine is not more than 40 horsepower and they have proof of competency. They are not allowed to operate a PWC under any conditions.
16+ years of age
Can operate a boat or PWC without supervision or horsepower restrictions so long as they have proof of competency.
Failure to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card
Violation of age and horsepower restrictions
Insufficient number of Transport Canada approved lifejackets or PFDs (warning: the fine applies for EACH missing or improper lifejacket or PFD)
Operating a PWC under 16 years of age
Operating a vessel in an unsafe manner
British Columbia Boating FAQs
What is a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)?
The PCOC, more commonly known by British Columbia boaters as a ‘boating license’, is a federal competency card that proves you can safely operate a boat. You must obtain and carry your PCOC in order to legally operate any powerboat or motorized boat in Canada. Unlike your driver’s licence, your PCOC can not be suspended or revoked, and once obtained, it’s good for life! Remember, you MUST have your Boating License on the boat during operation. We recommend keeping an extra BOATsmart! Card on the boat, in the boathouse and in your wallet!
Who needs a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) in BC?
A PCOC, or Canada Boat License, is required to legally operate any boat with a motor in Canada. If you’ll be heading down the coast to Washington, Oregon or even as far down as sunny California, and plan on operating a boat while visiting the U.S., an Official Boating License may be required, depending on which state you are visiting. But no worries, your Canadian boating license will be accepted in more than 40 states in the U.S.
How old do you have to be in BC to get your Boating License?
There is no minimum age for Canadians wishing to take the Online Course. However, the following age restrictions apply to boat operators: Children under 12 years of age can operate a boat powered by 10 horsepower or less with supervision. Children ages 12 to 16 can operate a boat without supervision if the engine is under 40 horsepower. Operators over 16 years of age can operate a boat without supervision or horsepower restrictions.
When does my BC Boating License expire?
Once you’ve taken the BOATsmart! Online Course and passed the Online Test you’ll be good for life! No renewal is needed because your BC boating license will never expire.
What is the minimum age in BC to get a boating license?
There is no minimum age to take Canada’s Online Boating Course. You can legally drive a boat at any age in Canada so long as you have obtained your Pleasure Craft Operator Card. However, there are certain horsepower restrictions for younger boaters. See the infographic outlining BC’s age and horsepower restrictions below!
Are there waterways in BC where I can’t go boating?
Yes, but no worries, with so many amazing lakes, rivers and coastal waterways in this province you won’t have any trouble finding an awesome spot to launch your boat. However, BC Parks does not allow motorized boating activities in some protected lakes, rivers and waterways.
How do I get a Boating License in BC?
It’s easy to get your boating license in British Columbia! Just take the Online Course, pass the Transport Canada Boating Safety Test and you’ll be able to go boating right away. You can take Canada’s Boating Course online, from the comfort of home. It’s 100% open-book, and includes free Test retries. It’s everything you need in one package!
Do I need to insure my boat in BC?
No, boats and watercraft in BC are not required to have boat insurance. However, marine insurance is highly recommended for all boat types in Canada. You can save up to 25% off your annual policy with BOATsmart! Assure. Get a quick, online quote today!
Are there free boating lessons I can take after I've completed the Course & Test?
Absolutely! We know that it can take practice to properly perform certain boating skills, like docking your boat in the wind. We also know that it can be helpful to remind yourself about the boating rules and regulations, like the rules for boating with alcohol in BC! There’s also lots to know about the safety equipment you need on your boat to avoid getting a fine. That’s why we’ve created our free BOATsmart! Knowledge Base for free. Additionally, if you would like to keep a boating safety handbook on the boat, you can order a handy BOATsmart! Study Guide. We’ll keep you up-to-date, BC!
What is the fine for not having a BC Boating License?
Boaters who fail to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card on the water in British Columbia can be fined a minimum of $250.
Go Boating in British Columbia
BC is peppered with lakes, rivers, and a coastline that’ll keep boaters exploring for years. Some of our favourite lakes for watersports and lakeside festivals include Okanagan Lake which spans 130 km, Harrison Lake with almost unlimited boating access, and Cowichan Lake where the top water-skiing and wakeboarding fanatics have been known to land some tricks! More of a ‘cruise along the coast’ type of boater? Check out Tofino for some amazing shoreline scenery, sunsets and world famous surfing competitions, or start at Fraser River and work your way up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound for weeks of endless beauty!
Trust us, fishing in BC is where it’s at! To get where you’re going, use Discover Boating’s Marina and Boat Launch finder, and before you cast a line, be sure to read and understand BC’s Freshwater Fishing Regulations and Offshore Fishing Regulations. British Columbia is an angler’s paradise with freshwater and offshore fishing opportunities for sturgeon, salmon and trout! So get out there and reel em’ in!
BC’s top boating destinations!
Okanagan Lake, BC
Osoyoos Lake, BC
Harrison Lake, BC
Gulf Islands, BC
Atlin Lake, BC
Harrison Lake, BC
Lake Cowichan, BC
The Sunshine Coast, BC
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