A group of people enjoying the waters on a boat.

Getting a boating licence in Ontario

A group of people enjoying the waters on a boat.

Boating is life in this land of lakes, and with so many casual ways to get out on the water, it’s not surprising that not everyone has their licence—but there are plenty of good reasons to get one, besides the legal ones.

It's hard to avoid being on the water in Ontario

Ontario is the land of water—bordered by the Great Lakes to the south, the Arctic Ocean to the north and many mighty rivers all around.

City dwellers rush out to the lakes on the weekends and the country folk spend most of their time in, on or beside them.

There’s no getting around it: if you live in, or are visiting Ontario, you’ll be around water—and the best way to enjoy it, is to feel safe and comfortable.

It’s the law

If you are running a boat with a motor in it, you need to have a boating licence. There are no two ways about it.

It could save lives

In the training you need to complete to get your licence, you'll learn critical information that could make the difference between life or death when operating a boat.

Probably the most important information is how to navigate when confronted with rapidly changing weather. The training prepares you for how to deal with capsizing, unmanageable waves or a swamped boat. 

It’s cool to know about boats

Boats have been around for a long time—in fact, without them, we probably would still all be stuck on our own continents just dreaming about what’s happening on the other side of the world. And if current trends count for anything, boating is just getting more popular.

So being a bona fide sea captain gets you extra cool cred when you want to rock the sailor stripes or get an anchor tattoo. Also, people love friends with boats.

You’ll learn very useful stuff

So, besides being able to react properly in emergency situations, there’s plenty of useful stuff in the licence training. Like, which side of the boat is aft? On which side should you pass a boat that’s coming towards you? How do you properly overtake another boat so they don’t accidentally crash into you? How do you dock your boat like a pro?

All these questions and more will actually make boating more pleasant. So forget what you thought you knew, and just do the training.

Think you’re ready now? Try out this practice test from MyBoatCard.com and see how you do. You might be surprised with your results.

It’s the new thing to do

Getting a boating licence is a new requirement in Canada—and it’s important. Having more licenced boaters means safer waterways, which means fewer headlines about drownings, accidents and mishaps. And once you get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card you’re good for life with no annual fees.

Avoid facing fines

Getting a boating licence is basically saving money—because the cheapest fine you can get for doing things wrong is $200. That’s more than double the cost of taking the test. On busy waterways there are more patrols, and it’s pretty easy to get a ticket if you’re not following the rules. 

Getting your boating licence doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s always a good idea to know how to react in emergencies, and you’ll end up learning things that will improve your experience, even when you’re just out for a pleasure cruise. Plus, you’ll be the coolest person on a dock when you actually can bring the boat with some style.

Once you’re ready to get your licence—it’s easy to do and you can do it online—click on one of the providers below and they’ll help you get on the water:

Last updated: October 13, 2023

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